Thursday, March 25, 2010

Becoming a PGA Golf Pro

It's the dream of many to turn their favorite pastimes into a lucrative career, but it's sometimes trickier than it first appears.  Many jobs in the sport and recreation industry tend to be seasonal positions often filled by students or retirees.  So, what positions are available within the golf industry suitable as a full time career?  Truth is, there are several options available, depending on what areas interest you most.  Some of the more popular ones include positions with golf retailers, with club or apparel manufacturers or directly with a golf course.  Golf retailers offer management opportunities, which often have a focus on areas such as sales, customer service and management; manufacturers and apparel companies offer great opportunities for someone who is sales driven and has a interest in the latest and greatest in equipment technology; and golf courses offer several opportunities, with the most popular being that of the course pro.  For today, let's take a closer look at the role of a PGA Pro and the steps required the attaining that status.

Those who become golf professionals can fill many roles throughout their careers. Some are teachers who instruct other players on swing techniques and the mental side of the game. Golf pros also help operate golf-related businesses, manage employees, buy merchandise and oversee maintenance at a club, resort or course.  One of the major attributes that a golf professional must possess is the ability to work with people. Golf pros must be able to manage and work with salespeople, groundskeepers and maintenance workers effectively and with respect. They must also be able to work with the public, assisting them with their golfing needs and teaching them the correct way to play the game. They are also required to be able to run daily reports regarding course play and sales, create and maintain staff schedules and organize and oversee golf tournaments and events.  Wages for golf pros vary depending on geographic location, level of education and years of experience.  According to Salary Wizard, the average head golf pro at a private course made $59,335 in base salary in 2009.  The bottom 10% made $30,160, and the top 10% made $98,428.  So, what steps do you need to take to get started?

Becoming a recognized PGA golf pro varies depending on your location, so please contact your local PGA office for exact details, but here's a look at the general process:

1. Graduate from high school or be at least 18 years of age with a high-school education. Document that you are a citizen of the country in which you are applying.
2. Work in one of the positions designated by the PGA as meeting the Eligible Employment requirement. This requirement must be met in order to register for the PGA/PGM program. The PGA has a classification of acceptable positions. An applicant must have worked a 6-month period out of the 12 months prior to application.
3. Pass the 36-hole Playing Ability Test (PAT). There is a rather complicated formula that determines the exact scores that must be equaled or bettered, but a generally, an applicant must play 36 holes 15 strokes over par or better.
4.  Complete an apprentice registration form. This verifies employment and documents that an applicant has reviewed the details of the Professional Readiness Orientation (PRO). At this time an applicant also pays an apprentice fee for the national and sectional PGA. An applicant then earns the title of PGA apprentice.
5.  Work a three-year period as a PGA apprentice in a position that is sanctioned by the PGA. During this three-year period, an applicant must also pass checkpoints for three different levels. These checkpoints are a demonstration of proficiency in golf instruction and principles of business and management.

Requirements also often include program certifications such as Teaching and Coaching Certification and Club Fitting Certification. 

Becoming a PGA professional unlocks the door to a rewarding and exciting career in a sport that spans the globe and is played by 60 million people. Many young golfers set their hearts on playing on tour alongside Tiger Woods and Co. but plenty of other opportunities exist in professional golf far beyond the confines of the golf course and PGA professionals fill many of these roles while also successfully playing.