Europe’s Solheim Cup captain Alison Nicholas has chalked up another significant milestone in her illustrious career – as a graduate of the PGA Foundation Degree.
Former US Women’s Open winner Nicholas, who has been charged with guiding Europe’s leading women against the US for the second successive time in 2011, will be among dozens of graduates at the University of Birmingham on Friday marking the end of three years of hard work to make the grade as a PGA professional.
Nicholas’s achievement was done so against the backdrop of being Solheim Cup captain for two of her three years of studying the various facets of being a PGA professional, including sport science, business, coaching and equipment technology.
The Birmingham-based professional, who teaches at the Hagley Golf and Country Club and the European Golf Performance Institute in Rugeley, was determined to pursue her PGA credentials, despite an illustrious playing career that garnered 18 titles including two majors.
“I think taking the PGA Foundation Degree was important for me after I took retirement,” said Nicholas, who competitively hung up her clubs in 2004.
“It was important for me to keep learning and to learn as much as I can to help other people in terms of my teaching. I can testify that I have learned a lot more than I knew at the start of the course.”
But completing the degree course, which sees an intake of around 300 budding PGA professionals a year, ranks among her career highlights.
“It is pretty much up there,” said the 48-year-old, who was awarded an MBE in 1998 following her US Women’s Open victory.
“I’m delighted that I passed and got through in three years. It has been hard work juggling studying, working and my Solheim Cup duties. I did feel under a bit of pressure, but I’ve used to thriving under this situation throughout my career. It was important for me to finish it inside the three years.”
Nicholas, who will be the host captain for the 2011 contest against the US, will be free to focus on the build up to the match – without any distractions.
“I will have a lot more to do with the preparations this time around and will be going out to the venue later this month,” said Nicholas.
Her achievement in completing the course was recognised by senior figures at the PGA and the Ladies European Tour.
PGA chief executive Sandy Jones said: “This is a tremendous achievement for Alison and marks a year of hard work. She deserves huge applause for her outstanding efforts and I wish her more success in the future.”
Alexandra Armas, executive director of the Ladies European Tour, said: “I congratulate the 2009 and 2011 European Solheim Cup captain, Alison Nicholas, on her PGA graduation. Alison has worked extremely hard to combine studying with steering her Solheim Cup team, as well as teaching at Hagley Golf & Country Club at The Driving Range & Golf Academy and working with the European Golf Performance Institute.”
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