A growing interest in golf and the diversity that a career in the game offers has encouraged more professionals than ever to seek qualified status.
Out of 288 trainees, 180 students passed the final examination reflecting the complexity and degree of difficulty of the new three-year course. A further 127 passed out of the 151 trainees retaking the exam, and amongst the newly qualified squad of 331 pros were ten ladies.
This year’s squad of qualified golf professionals also received a boost from one of the most celebrated amateurs, Sir Michael Bonallack OBE, former Secretary and now Captain of the R&A, who was guest of honour at the PGA’s Graduation Ceremony at The Belfry this week.
Winning the coveted Titleist Trainee of the Year Award and the Whitcombe-Cox Trophy was Richard Alderson from Grantham. Alderson aged 25, the assistant professional from Stoke Rochford Golf Club also won the first prize cheque of £3,200.
Runner up was Scott Kirkpatrick from Bangor Golf Club who received a cheque for £2,500 with Christian Van Der Velde from Holland’s Noordwijk Golf Club taking third place and £1,400. A further 12 graduate trainees were presented with highly commended awards and cheques ranging from £200 – £1,000, thanks to £14,000 sponsorship by Titleist FootJoy.
Sir Michael Bonallack said,“The role of today’s professional is an expanding one and provides an important link with the amateur game. The growth of the game at both private and proprietary clubs means that professionals are needed who can run the whole business and not just be focused on golf. The PGA training programme provides this broad based experience within its extensive curriculum.”
This year’s event also marked the launch of the Rookie Trainees of the Year, sponsored by Moet & Chandon. Out of 320 rookies completing their first year’s training, the cheque for £1,000 and Major John Bywaters Memorial Trophy went to Richard Booth from Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club.
Richard, aged 29 years, finished ahead of Michael Stuckey from Burnham & Berrow Golf Club who received £600 and Mark Dulson from The Norfolk Golf and Country Club winning £400. Cheques for £300 and £200 were also presented to Stuart Hurstfield (Kettering Golf Lodge) and David Woolley (Middleton Hall Golf & Country Club) respectively.
The PGA has recognised the need to expand its training programme for professionals and now incorporates a more comprehensive syllabus with a wider range of subjects to encompass the roles and responsibilities for a position as Director of Golf. This is all in addition to its previous curriculum and now includes bio-mechanics, physiology, psychology, computer skills, green-keeping/agronomy as well as marketing and management modules.
In fact the course is very much more geared towards business management in the light of the growth of the game at both private and proprietary clubs, which need professionals who can run the whole business and not just be focused on golf.
Standards have also been raised at the qualifying stage of the new three year programme which commences from November through to March. The cost of the programme is also comparable to University tuition fees and applicants must be working on a full-time basis with a fully qualified member of the PGA with training status.
They must also have a handicap of four or better and have achieved at least four GCSE passes with C grades or equivalent. All these changes take golf into a new dimension and reflect the profession as a more serious career than previously considered.
Today’s golf professional has to be truly multi-skilled in every aspect of the game and develop a real understanding of business and financial functions. Continuous improvement is the only way forward to reflect a greater input and responsibility in a career that has entered the fast lane.
The PGA’s focus is centred on developing and maintaining its role as world leaders in the game. Its continued success will be borne by the successful PGA candidates of 2000 who have become the new ambassadors of the game and will be highly sought after as they put their new found skills into practice and encourage newcomers to the game.
Titleist and FootJoy Worldwide continue to sponsor the PGA Trainees of the Year Award. The PGA also wishes to acknowledge the support given by De Vere Hotels, Karsten (UK) Ltd, The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Neta Visions Inc., Securicor, Sunderland of Scotland, and Wilson Sporting Goods Co.