The Professional Golfers’ Association has teamed up with the University of Birmingham to offer an honours degree in golf. The first student intake will start work in September 2002, when 25 would-be professionals will be able to combine undergraduate-level academic studies with tuition in every aspect of the game.
The PGA hopes that the radical project will provide two major benefits. Talented golf players anxious to begin their career with an academic grounding will no longer be lost to the professional game and those determined to make the transition from amateur status to full-time pro will be given a greater chance of success.
“The standard of British golf professionals is already impressively high but this degree will provide future professionals with an even greater range of qualifications,” said the PGA’s chief executive, Sandy Jones.
The three-year course will range from the latest thinking in sports science and historical perspectives of golf, to analysis of swing theory and advanced equipment technology. Psychology lecturers will do their best to ensure the students develop the mental toughness essential for success in the modern game.
The course will also focus on developing each player’s inter-personal skills and during vacations the students will be sent on golf club placements.
Those who pass the examinations and submit a dissertation of sufficient quality will be awarded a BA (Hons) Humanities in Applied Golf Management Studies and be eligible to become PGA professionals. This is believed to be the first time any university has been involved with a sport’s governing body to create such a degree course.
The University of Birmingham was chosen for its proximity to The Belfry, where the PGA’s National Training Academy is based, combined with its ranking in Britain’s premier league of universities. The University’s director of external affairs, Sue Primmer, calculates that around 20 academic and PGA staff will teach each student over the three years. “Three different schools of the university will be involved: Education, Metallurgy and Materials, and Sport and Exercise Science,” she said.
Applications for the course will be accepted from both the UK and overseas. All successful candidates will need to have at least two A levels at ‘C’ grade, or the equivalent, plus a handicap of four or better. The course will encompass the PGA’s current three-year national training programme but in even greater depth.
The Royal & Ancient has given its blessing and support and the PGA has decided that students will be able to retain their amateur status. Graduates will need to spend a year’s attachment with a golf club before turning professional.