As a youngster he was a talented swimmer but John Heggarty has ended up making a splash in golf with the Royal Liverpool head professional being accorded PGA Master Professional status.
Born in Liverpool, but passionate about his Scottish upbringing, Heggarty was honoured in the latest APAL (Accreditation for Professional Achievement and Learning) awards which has seen him attain the PGA’s highest membership category in recognition of his long standing in game including becoming head pro at the Open Championship venue at Hoylake at the age of just 23.
As part of his award he compiled a thesis on the impact of high profile tournaments on Hoylake and the surrounding area.
Heggarty, 54, who is vice chairman of the PGA Board of Directors, describes himself as a ‘traditional club pro’ and said he was humbled to be named alongside such luminaries of the as John Jacobs, David Leadbetter, Denis Pugh and Pete Cowen who have all attained the category.
“It is a wonderful honour, and I’m very proud of the fact that the APAL committee saw fit to bestow that honour on me. I join some peers who are eminent within the golf industry and to have my name on that list is humbling,” he said.
“I would describe myself as a traditional club pro. I know there is a move for specialists in this modern era but I am very much of the vintage who have had to be reasonably expert in all facets of the game of golf.”
Heggarty, who will welcome the Open Championship back to Hoylake in 2014, said career highlights centred around welcoming the various high profile events such as the Open, Walker and Curtis Cups and assorted amateur championships to the impressive links.
“Just being involved at Royal Liverpool and everything that comes with it is a highlight,” he said. “Every day is exciting because it brings people enthusiastic to play this famous links and see what we see every day.”
Heggarty excelled at back stroke as a teenage swimmer but turned to golf with a rival swimmer, and friend, and they played at Dumfries & County Golf Club.
“I used to swim to quite a high standard but my friend who was slightly better, took up golf so I did too and we transferred our rivalry to the golf course.”
Heggarty’s first assistant’s role was at Hayston Golf Club in Glasgow, later moving to Shaw Park Golf Club in Alloa before moving south to become an assistant to John Morgan at Royal Liverpool.
He then moved nearby after landing his first head pro job at Wirral Ladies Golf Club at the age of just 21.
But it wasn’t’ long before he was back at Royal Liverpool as head pro.
“John Morgan was a good player and played in a lot of tournaments so as an assistant I became heavily involved in the business when he was playing golf. In hindsight my day to day running of the shop perhaps gave the selection committee confidence to appoint me at the age of 23.”
Heggarty has also served on many committees, rising from being the Cheshire representative to become chairman of the PGA North Region committee and from there to the PGA Board of Directors where he is vice-chairman.
Dr Kyle Phillpots, the PGA’s director of education and career development, and joint chief operating officer, commented: “I am really pleased that John has achieved this award. It reflects a career that has breadth and depth.
“Not only has he had a successful career as a club professional and served with distinction as a Board member, but he has also played his part more recently as a tutor and assessor on the Level 1 and 2 coaching programmes.
“As a host venue professional for numerous events such as the Open Championship and Women’s British Open, John reflected on the opportunities this brings to the area and produced an excellent thesis on this that can help other professionals in the future.”