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Dennis Shaw: ‘An inspirational story…proud to have helped write it’6 min read


Posted on: 30th Oct 2012

Dennis Shaw, Media Consultant to The PGAs of Europe since 1998, will this year hang up his notepad as he retires, having worked closely with staff and directors over a fourteen year period since the association’s inception. Here Dennis writes his final piece for The PGAs of Europe to sum up a fantastic term with the association…

It’s been a humbling yet uplifting experience, one in which the past and the present collide, where nostalgia is inevitable, though suddenly rather quaint, and with reminders that if yesteryear was yours the future belongs to younger versions of yourself.

In bowing out of the responsibilities of media consultant to the PGAs of Europe after fourteen years in that role, there could not have been more forensic support for the accuracy of the timing than the coverage of the UniCredit 2012 PGA Professional Championship of Europe on www.pgae.com.

Instant hole-by-hole scores…pictures galore, some taken only moments ago…video clips…tweets…Facebook connectivity…all singing, all dancing, ‘ thumbs up if like it’, you name it, it’s there.

What more could one possibly ask from today’s world of miraculous communications in which the microchip and digital media have condensed time and space into the click of a mouse?

The use of this kind of technological wizardry is, as we all observe by the hour, commonplace to the new generations including those fortunate PGA professionals who have graduated in recent years. Now they must harness these hi-tec opportunities or get stuck in a time warp.

This is the very good reason why the PGAs of Europe communications policy, under newly-appointed manager, Aston Ward, has gone stratospheric. Me ? I’m toddling off into the sunset….humbled because, at pushing 80, it’s all rather beyond me, uplifted at the thought of all the progress that’s been made since 1998.

It was different, very different, back then, seemingly in another life, when the then secretary of the association, Lawrie Thornton asked me if (without a fee but well housed, watered and fed), I would travel to Spain to cover the International Team Championship and Annual Congress.

Thornton was acutely aware of the importance of communications and PR having launched an attractive Year Book and planned a quarterly ‘hard copy’ newsletter. That’s about all you could do back in the 1990s. And even that cost an arm and a leg…but he laid the foundations that have steadily been built on.

So, equipped with a notebook and ballpoint pen…no mobile with overseas capability, no laptop, no website, no interested sources for news output, no real idea why I was there, no monthly newsletter, I complied with the request. This is why, earlier, I used the expression ‘rather quaint’.

It felt, at the time as though I were there – ill-equipped and short of knowledge about the subject – to write about a non-event for no one in particular. In recalling that air of uncertainty it seems like just a year or two ago yet we’re now in a whole new age in terms of communications and information technology.

But were the enterprising, thoroughly modern new media man to be shunted back a mere fourteen years in a time machine to see me writing out reports in long-hand to be faxed from hotel reception to recipients who were not very interested, he would require a quick change of underwear. Rather like my age group watching Charlie Chaplain in his first silent movie backed only by a tinkling piano.

We had started using laptops by then, of course, but the connecting infrastructure internationally was…er…let’s be kind and say ‘unreliable’. I once tried for two solid days to e-mail material from the Beko Pro-Am at Kemer G&CC, Istanbul…and was then told it was a holiday weekend. The system had closed down.

However, that was then. And this is now. So as I down tools professionally for the first time in 64 years I heartily applaud Ian Randell, Sandy Jones and the board, the staff and all concerned for leading the PGAs of Europe communications capability into tomorrow’s world, and Aston Ward for implementing the 21st century tools at his disposal.

I daresay I’ll be peeping from the sidelines now and then but I won’t be opening a Facebook page nor a Twitter account…yesterday’s men are more comfortable with yesterday’s publications.

It’s been a fabulous fourteen years, though, chronicling the progress as it has been forged by the innovators and decision-makers… and it does seem to me that those original founding fathers from back in 1989, who recognised the need for an association of European PGAs, with education at its core, must never be forgotten.

Their departure of many of them from the scene, one by one, has been almost imperceptible but evolution is inevitable: Christer Lindberg, (late chairman and president), Lawrie Thornton (former executive secretary), Education chairmen Jean-Etienne Lafitte and Leif Ohlsson, directors Heinz Fehring, Donato di Ponziano, Richard Perthen.

These pioneers, and others remember, including former PGA chief executive John Lindsey whose ideas it was, started the PGAs of Europe from a hazy concept and a blank page and, to paraphrase the words of a pop song, ‘Baby, just look at it now…’

Ryder Cup Partner…influential member of the PGA World Alliance…almost 40 member PGAs…international members such as Brazil and Canada taking territorial coverage to huge swathes of the earth’s surface…21,000 individual pros worldwide, an education philosophy and policy that has grown the game in so many ways almost beyond belief.

All that and a thoroughly modern communications policy. Who would have thought that the 1989 ‘blank sheet of paper’ would become such an inspirational story? I’m proud to have helped to write it thus far.

Dennis Shaw

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From Ian Randell, Chief Executive of the PGAs of Europe:

“Dennis has been with the association for a number of years and has seen immense change within the organisation, bringing his fantastic style of writing and reporting from his previous endeavours as a football writer for the biggest publications in the country. It’s that experience that has enabled him to ensure that all the stakeholders invested in the work we do are aware of the ongoing evolution of the organisation.

“Dennis has done a fantastic job in publicizing the activities and progress of the PGAE over the years. It was a privilege to be able to acknowledge this with the presentation of the inaugural PGAs of Europe Special Recognition Award last year to him. I know I speak on behalf of all members, directors and staff in offering a big thank you for all that he has done for the PGAs of Europe.”