What Does The PGA Do?

We are all aware of the crucial role the PGA Pro plays in the smooth running of our clubs, but what does the organisation to which they belong actually do?

What Does The PGA Do?
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We all know what PGA Professionals traditionally do at golf clubs. They run the pro shop, fit you for clubs, give you lessons and quite often take your green fee. In many instances, they are the golf club’s main ‘front of house’ man or woman and very often the first port of call for any visitors. But what does the organisation to which they belong do?

As with all things in life, times are changing, and it’s no different for The PGA, now well into its second century. It is having to continually evolve as the world of golf and the landscape at golf clubs continue to evolve.

The most recent, highly significant change has been The PGA 2020 Vision project outlined previously on golfmonthly.com.

To recap, in response to more and more PGA Professionals now pursuing different career paths within the industry, The PGA has split its membership into three distinct sectors – PGA Professional, PGA Coach and PGA Manager – so members can choose the most relevant specialism.

Beyond that, PGA 2020 Vision is now giving others who work in the industry either professionally or voluntarily the chance to come into the fold via its new Business Management Group or Club Volunteer Group.

It is having to continually evolve as the world of golf and the landscape at golf clubs continue to evolve.

These new groups open up The PGA to a wider audience, but it has historically been golfing ability that lies behind signing up, with good golfers hoping to translate their natural ability into an enjoyable and rewarding career.

Any male with a handicap of 6 or less can embark on The PGA’s training programme, while for females it’s 8 or less.

In addition to their studies, some of which are undertaken at The PGA’s headquarters at The Belfry, it has long been the role of fully qualified PGA Pros to nurture, develop and channel the skills of these talented golfers such that they become the PGA Pros of tomorrow.

The PGA Pro mentors them and provides them with an environment in which to develop their skills and help them grow.

Their love for golf lies at the heart of their career choice, so The PGA also provides members with extensive playing opportunities and tournaments at national, regional and local level, generating a potential extra source of income for the best and allowing them to continue doing what attracted them to their career in the first place.

The PGA is acutely aware of rapid change in the industry and places real importance on Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

The organisation completely overhauled its CPD system in 2019 by investing in a new digital learning platform – PGA Learn – which provides members with more choice and control over their CPD and encourages them to take greater ownership of their personal development.

A broader range of activities now counts towards the PGA Pro’s CPD across four categories: formal learning (e.g. qualifications, one-day events, seminars); professional activity (e.g. lecturing, refereeing, examining); work-based learning (e.g. on-job training, new projects); and self-directed learning (e.g. reading books, listening to podcasts).

The goal is to ensure that PGA Pros stay up-to-date with industry trends and can therefore better serve their club, members and customers.

We will all have seen the PGA Pro heading off to the practice ground, juniors in tow, and the organisation definitely sees its role in helping to breed the next generation of golfers as vitally important.

“I think it’s absolutely critical that we do that,” CEO, Robert Maxfield, told us.

“We had a great initiative in Scotland a few years ago called ClubGolf in partnership with the Ryder Cup. We developed an initiative around getting every single nine-year-old in Scotland playing golf and achieved that at the Gleneagles Ryder Cup.”

It’s not just juniors. The PGA also supports initiatives such as Get Into Golf programmes, which seek to actively encourage greater participation at grass-roots level and help reverse the sport’s decline in participation and membership.

If kids are one target market, so too are women.

The PGA is actively trying to recruit more female golfers

The PGA signed up very early to the Women in Golf Charter, eager to not only get more women playing but also encourage more to consider joining The PGA, with only one in 25 members currently female.

It is actively targeting and promoting its programmes to more female golfers, with Maxfield convinced that the knock-on effect on female participation could be significant: “Our statistics show that a female would want to have a golf lesson with another female rather than a male. If we can get more female PGA Professionals in, we believe that will hopefully unlock more potential for more women coming into the game.”

Not content with training and equipping the club pros of the future, broadening its membership base, encouraging the continuing development of its members, staging tournaments and helping to encourage more people into the game, The PGA has also famously been a custodian of the Ryder Cup since its inception in 1927.

It is also part of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, a group that has been particularly busy over the past year trying to help golf steer its way through the pandemic.

• To find out more about The PGA, its Membership groups or how to become a PGA Professional, visit www.pga.info

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response