Former Tartan Tour No.1 Kevin Stables has earned PGA Advanced Fellow Professional status.
The accolade, bestowed on the Scot in the latest APAL (Accreditation for Professional Achievement and Learning) awards is another feather in the cap for Stables who has enjoyed a wide ranging career from Tour player to dedicated club professional at Elgin Golf Club.
Stables was one of several Scots to receive APAL awards including Downfield head pro Ken Hutton and Ladybank’s Sandy Smith who were both made PGA Fellow Professionals.
PGA Advanced Fellow status is just one below the highest ranking category of PGA Master Professional and it is another highlight for Stables who once finished 10th behind Jose Maria Olazabal on his PGA Championship debut at Wentworth and won two successive Northern Open titles.
More recently his flair for business management in his head professional role atElginhas ensured it remains a thriving hub for golfers.
Stables, who teed off his career as a young assistant at Dunblane, has become a pivotal figure at Elgin where he has developed a custom fit and teaching centre, overseen a successful junior programme and introduced a new category of membership as a means to capture new golfers.
In addition he has also sourced a new sponsor for the club’s popular pro-am and further demonstrated his value to the club by providing a full service centre for trolley and cart repairs.
A former Scottish Boys amateur international, Stables also has a bagful of memories from two eventful years on tour from 1983-84 where he played alongside the likes of Barry Lane, Philip Walton and BBC commentator, and PGA pro, Andrew Murray.
“I was permanently skint, even if you had a good finish you only got around £400, but I enjoyed it immensely, spending time with players like Lane and Walton but it was very difficult,” recalled Stables. “It was the days of Monday pre qualifying, if you made the cut you probably played the next week but there were no guarantees.”
Stables was subsequently appointed senior PGA professional to head pro Keith Maxwell at Sunningdale Golf Club where his passion for football backfired with a serious injury which prompting a switch in career direction.
“I dislocated my knee playing five-a-side football and was out for 13 weeks but during his time on the sidelines I decided to pursue a career as a club professional,” he added.
He secured his first role atRanfurlyCastlebut showed he had lost non of his competitive edge by winning his first 72-hole tournament – the Granite City Classic – just two months after getting out of plaster.
In 1990, a move to Montrose Links beckoned and in the same year he also qualified for the Great Britain & Ireland PGA Cup team that played America on Kiawah Island.
Successfully juggling the demands of the club pro role with playing, the 51-year-old earned three top 20 finishes in the Bells Scottish Open and triumphed in the Northern Opens of 1993 and 1994, the latter year also saw him win the Order of Merit.
Undoubtedly a career highlight was his top ten display on his debut at the PGA Championship behind Spanish ace Olazabal – the reigning US Masters champion in 1994. He also finished top 20 the following year.
At the turn of the century he returned to home town club Elgin to take the head pro role and poured his energies into making that a success. Two years ago he became one of the first to take the PGA director of golf qualification.
An ear infection has dented hopes of playing the European Senior Tour but Stables still has plenty to offer to golf particular the members of Elgin.
“I enjoy the club pro role and have spent a lot of time learning and improving my knowledge,” he added. “More and more PGA pros are moving into management roles at clubs and with the golf industry facing difficult times I think pros have an important role helping to drive the game forward.”
The APAL programme recognises four additional membership status categories beginning with PGA Advanced Professional and moving onto PGA Fellow Professional, PGA Advanced Fellow Professional and PGA Master Professional. A guide to PGA membership and categories is available at www.PGA.info