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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier…Pro15 min read


Posted on: 29th Jul 2014

PGA Professionals across the globe are now carrying out a huge variety of jobs and careers ranging from full-time playing Professionals, to managers, directors, referees, administrators and more.

Here IGPN takes a look at some of these PGA Professionals that all touch the PGAs of Europe in some way to give an insight into some of the varied roles that they play, and find out more about their industry and see what tips they can pass on to other Professionals looking to enter their respective fields of work…

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THE TEACHER

Kevin Flynn

Kevin Flynn – Head professional at Tournerbury Golf Centre; PGAs of Europe Golf Development Professional

Q. What does your current role involve?

As a PGA professional you have to firstly be very versatile. The areas of work my current position demands is coach, presenter, designer of development programs, rules advisor, competition organiser and handicap secretary, shop manager, club manager, developing golf in other countries, and educating golf coaches on new technology and swing theories.  Being in the position of Head Professional you have to lead by example and support your staff while making sure that all things golf are catered for at the club.

Q. What was your reason for going into your area of the industry?

The reason for going into the industry was originally to play on tour, however I soon realised i did not have the desire or commitment to practice the game at the level needed to achieve at the highest level.  Meeting John Jacobs gave me the desire and inspiration to better myself as a coach and I feel as though I am continually getting better through my own self-motivation to become the best I can be.   I hear the words “those that cant play teach” an awful lot but in my own personal experience I get greater satisfaction from seeing others improve than actually improving as a player myself.

Q. What are the main obstacles you face in your position?

I have found it difficult to find staff that are as passionate towards the game of golf as I am.  I think a lot of youngsters who embark on a career in golf do so because it is an easy route into a profession, however I think this is changing with the introduction of new education programs and the criteria needed to be accepted into the PGA.  It is also frustrating to see how many outstanding golf professionals are struggling to establish themselves as Head professionals.  The PGA are doing a fantastic job in raising the standards of our professionals however I feel that golf clubs in the UK need to be better informed as to how the PGA professional is evolving.

Q. What are the main pieces of advice you would give to a PGA Pro looking to move into your area of the industry?

My advice to an aspiring PGA trainee would be to remain passionate about the game of golf.  We are so lucky to be involved in the game of golf and what better way to spend your life, teaching golf, living in an environment where you meet new people everyday and enjoy walking in some of the most beautiful places on the planet.  Embrace the game of golf and never stop learning.

Q. Is there one key thing that you have learnt in your area of expertise that could be applied to all areas and if so what is it?

The greatest thing I have learnt and try to use as a reminder to myself is this quote by John Wooden: “It is what we learn after we think we know it all, that counts”.

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THE MANAGER

Gavin Chappell_smGavin Chappell – Golf Manager, Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club, Abu Dhabi

Q. What does your current role involve?

I am lucky that I have a great team working with me in the golf department here in Al Ain which makes it easier for me to oversee that the club is moving in the right direction. Managing that team to ensure that we are giving our members and guest the best experience possible when they visit the club and at the same time continually looking to promote the resort to both new members and guests. The standards of clubs in the region are so high, so unless we are constantly looking to improve on how our club is run then we would be left behind.

Q. What was your reason for going into your area of the industry?

I had the opportunity to move in to my current role at the start of this year and I felt it was something that I wanted to do to further my career and also the additional role and responsibilities it presented. I have been in the golf industry for the last 18 years with various roles which I have all enjoyed but I feel that most people want to continue to grow in whatever field they are in and I am certainly no different.

Q. What were your reasons for going to work in that particular location?

I have been lucky since leaving the UK in the opportunities that I have been given and the different places I have worked.  My first role in Cairo led to a new challenge in Ras Al Khaimah which is the most northern Emirate in the UAE, which in turn presented a move to Al Ain, part of the Abu Dhabi Emirate. I have been in the UAE for almost 9 years now and in that relatively short period of time I have seen great growth in the game of golf which has been fantastic as both local and international rounds continue to raise, for these points and also the fact of the quality of our golf facility go together as main reasons in why I am here in the UAE.

Q. What are the main obstacles you face in your position?

Again I am lucky in the team I have in Al Ain which makes a lot of the potential obstacles you could face not being a problem. One challenge we face in Al Ain is with our location, being over an hour from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We not only have to compete with the more well known clubs in the region we have to do it from where we are situated. This has its obvious  problems in encouraging visitors from either inside or outside of the UAE to visit us but again I feel what we have to offer at the resort goes a long way to counter act this.

Q. What are the main pieces of advice you would give to a PGA Pro looking to move into your area of the industry?

Even though your roles and responsibilities would change from your previous position, a lot of what you had been involved in previously will hold you in good stead. I feel that is the case for myself as I try to use my experiences from past roles while at the same time trying to look for ways in moving forward. Each club or resort will vary in terms of what they are looking to achieve and what is the vision of their owners or management, but by understanding those and continuing to do the basics well and being pro active in moving forward to grow the club and the services you offer would in my opinion be important traits.

Q. Is there one key thing that you have learnt in your area of expertise that could be applied to all areas and if so what is it?

I feel having good interpersonal relationship is certainly a major point and one that is necessary in the role. From having a team that you oversee as well as being responsible in reporting to and meeting with superiors, and at the same time dealing with golfers be it members or visitors to the club. All of the 3 different points do take different forms but all of them are crucial in having a successful club.

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THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR

SONY DSCRobert Moss – PGA of Great Britain & Ireland Advanced Golf Professional, Mendip Spring Golf & Country Club; PGAs of Europe Tournament Director; PGA Rules Referee  

Q. What does your current role involve?

I am the club Professional at Mendip Spring and spend most of my time coaching individuals, groups as well as going in to the local schools to develop a local schools/club link.  I’m also involved with the Somerset Golf Partnership taking golf to the community and encouraging more participation.   I am a member of the PGA Rules panel, refereeing at tournaments for the PGA, European Tour and the LET.   I’m also the Tournament Director for the PGAs of Europe’s tournaments.  This involves making sure the tournament runs smoothly from start to finish from meeting with the host venue/sponsor, course set up and marking the course to ensure the fair and strict applications of the rules of golf, producing local rules, identifying tee and pin positions to use during the week and locating areas of the course for referees to cover during tournament days. I MC prize presentations and follow up with correspondence with all personnel attached to the event to maintain relationships.

Q. What was your reason for going into your area of the industry?

I have been on the PGA Rules Panel for 12/13 years and it all started with one of my members always coming into the pro shop asking ‘worst-case scenario’ rules questions, which I struggled to answer!  I saw the PGA had a CPD Rules course, which I attended and did reasonably well in the exam and was invited to join the panel.

Q. What are the main obstacles you face in your position?

The biggest problem is slow play!!  Pros are playing for a lot of money and understandably don’t want to rush shots and the amateurs pay a lot of money to play so also want to take their time and enjoy the day.  Our job is to ensure a sensible pace of play is maintained for the enjoyment of everyone.  I also think as coaches we have an obligation to the game to work on set-up routines with our pupils that is an acceptable time whilst still getting them prepared for the shot.  There’s nothing worse as a referee than having to put a player on the clock and increasing the pressure on him when he is playing for his living!

Q. What are the main pieces of advice you would give to a PGA Pro looking to move into your area of the industry?

Learn the rules and in particular the ‘Definitions’ as they are the foundations of which the rule book is written.  Once you are comfortable navigating the rule book, contact your PGA or federation to find out about any refereeing opportunities.  Whilst the days on the course can be long, I have been very fortunate to go to some fantastic venues around the world for tournaments.

Q. Is there one key thing that you have learnt in your area of expertise that could be applied to all areas and if so what is it?

I would say take your time and gather all the facts/information before giving an answer.  The last thing you want to do is dive straight in and answer and then find out material facts that would have changed the outcome!  It is better to take your time and give the correct answer rather than rush and give a wrong answer.  Also never be afraid to call for a second opinion, that is a strength rather than a weakness.  The same can be applied to coaching as well, I like to take my time to fully assess the situation before delivering my verdict and I am never afraid to seek a second pair of eyes or opinion if needed.

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THE PLAYER

SONY DSCHenrik Engdahl – Head Professional, The Crete Golf Club Greece

Q. What does your current role involve?

At the moment I run the club’s academies, coach the Greek national team, give lessons and then play in Pro-Ams with members and clients.

Q. What was your reason for going into your area of the industry?

As a fully qualified PGA Professional I find it important to offer a full service in many areas to all my members and guests.  That’s why I try to have a broad variety of services and expertise under my belt.

Q. What were your reasons for going to work in that particular location?

Leaving Sweden as a very mature market and going to Greece where golf is a lot newer was quite a challenge, but I wanted to help build and support Greek Golf.  Now there are a few new developments happening and I think we’re on the right track.

Q. What are the main obstacles you face in your position?

I would say only language really, many of our guests are coming from Russian speaking countries and my knowledge in Russian is very limited but luckily I have a Russian-speaking assistant this year.

Q. What are the main pieces of advice you would give to a PGA Pro looking to move into your area of the industry?

Build a good foundation based on education/experience, be open-minded and accept that you are in a different culture.

Q. Is there one key thing that you have learnt in your area of expertise that could be applied to all areas and if so what is it?

Work on your social skills and be a good listener and last but not least, make sure you are educated a proper education can get you everywhere.

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THE OPERATIONS DIRECTOR

Michael BraidwoodMichael Braidwood – PGA of Great Britain & Ireland Advanced Fellow Professional; Operations Director, Braemar Golf  

Q. What does your current role involve?

I am the Operations Director for Braemar Golf Developments who are a golf management company.  My role is to oversee any project we have from a Golf Operations standpoint of view, however I do get involved in Human resources and Sales, Marketing and PR related issues.   I have for the past 2 seasons been on secondment to a Russian developer called Millhouse (owned by Roman Abramovich) who have developed a golf course on the outskirts of Moscow.  Skolkovo Golf Club is unique in many ways, however with its location so close to the centre of Moscow it is fast becoming the most desired club in Russia.   My role here is actually closer to General Management and Director of Golf and it very much at the coal face meeting prospective clients, selling memberships, organising the golf operations and events.

Q. What was your reason for going into your area of the industry?

I moved to Braemar Golf in 2010 after spending 12 years in Bahrain as the General Manager of Riffa then the Royal Golf Club.  During my time in Bahrain I got involved with Braemar Golf on a couple of projects and we jointly did the pre- and post- opening of the Sahara Golf and Country Club in Kuwait.  The progression from running one facility in Bahrain to running multiple facilities on behalf of Braemar Golf seemed a natural one and one that I find interesting as it poses many interesting challenges.

Q. What are the main obstacles you face in your position?

The main obstacles I come across are –   1. Vision – many of our clients don’t really understand golf and don’t have a clear vision from their project!  This leaves me trying to tease out of them what they really want!   2. Communication – In some of the locations we work English is not widely spoken and the language of golf is almost non-existent! (Golf is very alien to many people we deal with). This means we have to be very, very clear in how we communicate. I am currently trying to learn Russian – My Russian language handicap must be around 34!!   3. Procurement – in some parts of the world you just cannot get some things you would expect to have to run a successful golf operations, or it takes a very long time to get it. Procurement internationally is really planning and planning so far ahead.  In the UK now we are spoilt, we want something today and it is delivered tomorrow, this is not the case in Russia and other parts of the world!

Q. What are the main pieces of advice you would give to a PGA Pro looking to move into your area of the industry?

Learn every aspect of the golf club operation plus a few things more!  I could not do my role if I did not understand the structure of a good human resources framework, understand the sales, marketing and PR process, have a good insight into F&B operations etc.  You also need to be good and efficient at writing reports, as that‘s what our clients like.   I was lucky early in my career to work at Gleneagles and they were very progressive with training and cross-training.  I volunteered to spend time with the housekeeping department so I could understand how the process of cleaning rooms worked.  I also went on the Hotel Duty Manager rota, which gave me an insight into how the hotel operated.   Signing up for the PGA Director of Golf Program is also a good way of ensuring that you have competency and knowledge across all of the disciplines required.

Q. Is there one key thing that you have learnt in your area of expertise that could be applied to all areas and if so what is it?

There are 2 key ones really – planning in detail and communication. You can’t do enough of both.