Global Edition

GBN Interview: Robert Maxfield, Chief Executive of The PGA

2.46pm 11th September 2020 - Interviews

As The PGA unveils its 2020 Vision, we speak to Chief Executive, Robert Maxfield, about the exciting initiative that offers increased specialisation for PGA Professionals plus membership opportunities for all who work in the golf industry – including business professionals and club volunteers.

Golf Business News: Thanks for joining us, Rob, perhaps you could start by giving us an overview. What’s The PGA’s 2020 Vision all about?

Robert Maxfield: I suppose you could say that this is one of the most significant moments in the 119-year history of The PGA. We recognise that the golf industry has changed and over the last 18 months we’ve been working hard on detailed plans to evolve our Membership structure so that our Members – and us as an organisation – remain relevant to golf in the 21st century. This plan is what we call our 2020 Vision.

It’s really about recognising the changing role of PGA Professionals and The PGA itself.

That’s why we’re evolving one traditional Membership category, that of PGA Professional, into three clearly defined categories – PGA Professional, PGA Coach and PGA Manager. This will enable our Members to select the specialism that better reflects their role and area of expertise.

Robert Maxfield, Chief Executive of The PGA

GBN: This isn’t just about the re-categorising of members though is it?

RM: No, it’s not. The second aspect of 2020 Vision is about the role of The PGA in the wider sphere of golf. We feel it is really important to bring the entire industry together with a common voice and common goal at this incredibly challenging time – getting everyone in the same tent is a phrase I keep coming back to.

With this in mind we’ve created two new industry Membership groups that will be open to everyone who is employed or working as a volunteer in the golf industry. These are the Business Management Group and Club Volunteer by PGA.

As an organisation we feel we have the resource and expertise to pull the business of golf together for the good of our game, offering world-class support, education and networking services for everyone involved in golf.

GBN: These are very significant changes from The PGA – how do they fit in with your goals as an organisation?

RM: We believe 2020 Vision goes hand-in-glove with The PGA’s stated aim of improving the personal and professional lives of members. By enabling present and future Members to specialise and develop further in their chosen areas, we are recognising and championing their expertise. By bringing all those who work and volunteer in golf under the umbrella of The PGA, we’re positioning ourselves at the heart of the game for years to come.

Of course, we’re not going to undermine the rights and benefits of our existing Members, but we believe that The PGA in 2020 needs to represent a very different face to that of The PGA of the last 20 years. With the 2020 Vision we will be a membership of professionals in the business of golf rather than a membership of professional golfers.

GBN: Why the need to change, from the perspective of your Members?

RM: PGA Members hold a much wider range of roles than ever before, which means that The PGA’s structure, particularly in terms of support and education, needs to better reflect that. By holding a membership category that represents their individual career, specialism and focus – and having a tailored CPD programme to support that focus – Members will derive a clear benefit from a framework that demonstrates their value to the industry, as well as increased use of The PGA brand and logos that highlight their expertise.

GBN: Can you talk us through the rationale behind the new categories for existing Members?

RM: Our Members have told us they want to be recognised in their areas of specialism and want to differentiate themselves from their peers. These changes acknowledge the diverse roles of PGA Members. For instance, approximately 25% of our members hold management roles as opposed to coaching or playing – and there are currently limited opportunities for them to demonstrate their skills and influence. Many are reluctantly leaving the Association because our existing structure doesn’t allow them to retain membership. 

The ability to specialise and be recognised as an expert in your chosen field by employers and consumers alike is vital for Members, so moving from one general category to three specialist categories enables them to promote themselves as specialists and elevate themselves further by working towards Advanced, Specialist and Master status. It’s a massive change and something our Members are very positive about.

GBN: Here at Golf Business News, we are excited to hear about your new Business Management Group. Who can join and what does it involve?

RM: At the moment, it’s fair to say the golf industry is quite fragmented, so the Business Management Group will aim to help bring the industry together with a common voice and common goal, enabling those who work in golf exclusive networking and training opportunities under the umbrella of a single professional body – The PGA.

The Business Management Group is about helping to support and develop the workforce of golf and will be open to everyone within the game – whether they’re involved in golf clubs, hotels, resorts, operations, retail, travel, equipment or other golf business sectors. It provides all of these people who make golf business happen the opportunity to join a professional body and be a part of what we hope will become the leading industry network for knowledge sharing, networking and career development.

GBN: That brings us to the Club Volunteer category – what’s that all about?

RM: Club Volunteers are vital to the development of the game and play a huge role in supporting PGA Members within golf clubs. By our reckoning there are around 40,000 people volunteering at clubs and facilities in the UK and Ireland. The parallel we use is that of Governors, who enable the smooth running of schools. Golf volunteers are highly committed and bring a range of skills to their roles sitting on committees, organising events or running competitions.

With the creation of the Club Volunteer category, The PGA will provide training and guidance, enabling volunteers to update their skills and align their goals and aspirations with the professional workforce. The training will be in the areas of everything from marketing and finance to safeguarding and health & safety. Busy club managers don’t necessarily have the time or expertise to train volunteers themselves, but members of our Club Volunteer category will have access to high-quality PGA CPD allowing them to upskill and offer more to the club.

Establishing these two new group Membership categories will hopefully ensure that everybody involved in the business of golf is speaking the same language.

GBN: Thank you for talking to us about these exciting changes, Rob… when does it all begin?

RM: Thank you for allowing me the time to outline the detail of our 2020 Vision, we’re really excited to finally be able to talk about it externally. We’ve had many constructive conversations with individuals, companies and many different bodies across the industry over the last 18 months and I have to say the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re looking forward to working in partnership with them and hopeful that many industry colleagues will join when the application process is opened up in November

• Interested in joining The PGA’s Business Management Group? Learn more and register your interest at


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