A golfer whose love of the sport was sparked as a teenager by seeing Gary Player and Sir Henry Cotton in action has claimed the ultimate accolade and been awarded PGA Master Professional status.
Neil Selwyn-Smith has scaled the heights after a successful career across all aspects of the golf industry from club professional through to coaching, corporate golf entertainment and lecturing on the sport.
The Bromsgove-based member runs Golf by Design Ltd, a thriving corporate golf business which each year charters a train and/or plane to take clients to the Open Championship.
Selwyn-Smith also still coaches private clients and he is familiar to hundreds of young aspiring professionals as a PGA Tutor and is also lecturer on the Applied Golf Management Studies degree at the University of Birmingham.
He got the golf bug in 1959 when as a reward for helping a neighbour dig a ditch during the summer holidays near his Kings Heath home in Birmingham, he was taken to the Swallow-Penfold Tournament at Copt Heath where great names of the day were in action including newly crowned Open champion Gary Player, Sir Henry Cotton, Dai Rees and Dave Thomas.
“I was hooked from that moment on,” said Selwyn-Smith who obtained his first post at Cocks Moors Woods at aged 16.
In 1969 he was appointed head professional at Edgbaston Golf Club where he stayed until 1984 when he then branched out into corporate golf and also golf driving range and course architecture including designing and building Henley in Arden Golf Club in the early 90s.
A well-known figure in the Midlands, he has been both captain and chairman of the region and is secretary of the Warwickshire PGA as well as club and coach co-ordinator for the Warwickshire County Golf Partnership.
It was his expertise in corporate golf that helped him attain the final rung in the career ladder to achieve Master Professional status with a thesis on the subject ‘Corporate Entertainment Through Golf – Is It Worth It?’
“It was a fascinating subject, very hard work and challenging,” said Selwyn-Smith. “It was also very relevant in the current economic climate. We carried out an extensive survey of West Midlands businesses plus club professionals and secretaries and had an excellent response, more than 30 percent. “I was able to analyse and get a perspective on the subject and encouragingly the overwhelming findings were that golf is an ideal way to develop business relationships.”
Selwyn-Smith joins an illustrious band of golfers to have attained PGA Master Professional status including top European Tour coaches Denis Pugh, David Leadbetter and Peter Cowen.
“I’m very proud to have attained PGA Master Professional status,” added Selwyn-Smith. “To reach the top of your profession and be recognised by your peers is very special.”
Dr Kyle Phillpots, PGA director of training and education, commented: “Neil has had an outstanding career as a PGA Professional and someone who has achieved a great deal through golf.
“The Master Professional thesis he presented on the subject of corporate entertainment in golf was an excellent piece of work and will serve to educate other PGA Professionals on how to make a success of this side of the business.
“Neil thoroughly deserves his award and as with all the Master Professionals is a great role model on how to develop a career in the business of golf. Like many others he started out by playing the game and then made the most of the different opportunities that came his way.”
Golf by Design Ltd www.execgolf.co.uk
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