PGA News


PGA launches campaign to recruit next generation of pros

The PGA has responded to requests from its Members for more trainees to fill gaps in the workforce by launching a recruitment campaign to inspire anyone considering a career in golf or those who have never given it a thought.

The campaign - #PGADraft2020 - calls on the experiences of The PGA’s greatest asset, namely its Members, and brings to life the range of career options available.

 Members include European Tour players like Robert Rock and world-renowned coaches such as David Leadbetter and Denis Pugh, while the majority of the 8,000-plus membership enjoy a wealth of rewarding careers at home and abroad.

PGA professionals are employed in more than 80 countries and #PGADraft2020 talks to those working around the world in areas including coaching, administration, retail and management.

Closer to home, the campaign explores the career paths of head professionals, club managers and even golf club owners. What they all have in common is the three letters after their name – PGA – and the training programme that set them on their career path.

“That trio of special letters represent a universally recognised qualification that is respected and valued the world over,” says PGA chief executive Robert Maxfield. “Golf is a global game played in every corner of the world and a PGA qualification is a reassuring stamp of golfing expertise for prospective employers.”

The Professional Golfers’ Association of Great Britain and Ireland is based at four-time Ryder Cup venue, The Belfry, and has been at the heart of golf for more than a century and takes pride in the quality of its education.

“We are incredibly proud of the training programme we deliver,” says Dr Paul Wiseman, PGA executive director, education. “It is recognised globally as world-leading and is the foundation upon which The PGA is built.

 “It has been developed over the last 50 years to become a sophisticated education programme delivered in partnership with two leading universities plus tutors and coaches who are experts in their field.

“Our courses combine paid work experience, an academic qualification, and a range of PGA requirements including coaching qualifications together with 21 professional rounds of competitive golf. On completion, our graduates feel an enormous sense of pride as they move into full membership of the oldest professional association in golf and a wide variety of roles.”

The PGA offers three routes to qualification: a Foundation Degree in Professional Golf and Applied Golf Management Studies, both in association with the University of Birmingham, and the Diploma in Higher Education in Professional Golf in association with the University of the Highlands and Islands. The next intake for all three courses will be in October 2020 and applications are open now.

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Trio awarded top PGA honour

Paul Ashwell, Michael Braidwood and Kevan Whitson have all attained The PGA’s highest honour, the status of Master Professional. 

At the start of his career in 1990, Michael Braidwood developed as a coach and manager under the guidance of Kevin Stables in Montrose, Scotland and then worked at the Golf Academy at Gleneagles. His development at the 2014 Ryder Cup venue led to a move abroad to Bahrain to manage the Royal Golf Club.

The 49-year-old spent more than 11 years at the facility before returning to Scotland for a brief spell with Braemar Golf Developments as their operations director, a role that included regular work in Moscow, Russia.

He was appointed the Club Managers’ Association of Europe’s director of education in 2014 and oversaw and helped develop its hugely popular Management Development Programme, which was delivered across Europe and the Middle East.

Braidwood, who is an assessor for the PGA’s Director of Golf qualification, is currently general manager at the Education City Golf Club, Qatar, and has seven PGA professionals in his team.

“I am very proud to become a PGA Master Professional,” he said. “I think persistence, patience and productivity have all helped.

“I love all facets of our profession but nowadays you have to specialise in one. So I have specialised in being a generalist. I still like to play golf and keep in touch with what other coaches are doing. The advancement in coaching in recent years has been remarkable.”

Paul Ashwell is the director of golf at St Ives Golf Club, Cambridgeshire, where he has been based since 2013, and has coached players of all ages and ability at club, regional, national and European Tour level.

The 57-year-old, who was based as Wyboston Lakes Golf Club for eight years, has worked for England Golf coaching a number of national sides and has helped develop the careers of Tommy Fleetwood, Danny Willett, Eddie Pepperell and Tyrell Hatton through the England Golf Development Pathway.

Ashwell coached Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnson to his maiden European Tour title in 2016 and has also published a book ‘Golf – Skills of the Game’.

“I feel extremely proud and honoured to have achieved PGA Master Professional status,” he said. “Throughout my career I have admired the achievements of PGA Master Professionals and to be part of that esteemed group of people is very humbling. This recognition is definitely a highlight in my professional career.

“Coaching has been my specialty and passion and I consider myself very fortunate to have had a career that has allowed me to help others.”

Kevan Whitson joined Royal County Down Golf Club in 1992 having grown up on the east coast of Scotland playing on some of the oldest links in the world.

And when he qualified as an assistant at the Royal Burgess Golfing Society in Edinburgh, he was one of the youngest professionals in The PGA’s history.

Over the years Whitson has coached many top amateurs and touring professionals and is ranked by Golf Monthly magazine as one of the UK’s top 25 teachers.

Whitson is also a highly sought after as an after-dinner speaker and acts as a consultant to the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union.

During his time at Royal County Down he has provided valuable input to many leading championships held at the club, including the Amateur Championship, the Irish Open, the British Ladies’ Amateur Open Championship, three Seniors’ Open Championships and the 2007 Walker Cup.

Celebration time at Bramcote Waters

May proved a memorable month for former PGA Midlands captain and 2018 Ryder Cup referee Nic Gilks, despite the gloom engendered by the coronavirus crisis.

In addition to being made a PGA Advanced Fellow Professional, Gilks celebrated 25 years of owning Bramcote Waters Golf Club in Warwickshire which, thanks to the sunny weather and easing of lockdown restrictions, is buzzing again.

Global pandemics and a full car park were light years away, however, when Gilks became the first owner of the nine-hole course near Nuneaton on May 14, 1995.

The course, which was built by a local landowner, had been designed by David Snell, the winner of the 1959 News of the World Matchplay, and Gilks recalled: “My uncle told me about it.

“I’m from Nuneaton but was the pro at Eaglescliffe Golf Club on Teeside at the time. My uncle showed me round the course, then I met the landlord and took on a lease to run it.

“We had a week to prepare it for play, including cutting the greens down from six inches of grass to make them puttable!”

Since then Gilks, whose wife Val and son, Nic junior, are also involved in running the business, has overseen the building of a clubhouse and the founding of a club which currently has 140 members.

“Quite a few of those have joined recently,” added Gilks, sitting next to Val in the bar which, because of social distancing regulations, is otherwise empty.

“It’s mainly pay and play, though. There’s a big demand for nine-hole golf these days but we do have a full programme of competitions and social events.”

Reflecting on a career that began as a trainee with former PGA captain Neil Selwyn-Smith at Edgbaston Golf Club in 1975 and has included roles at Tamworth, Nuneaton, Market Harborough and Eaglesciffe Golf Clubs, Gilks says there is no substitute for being one’s own boss.

That includes during the dark days of the lockdown when there were no golfers and, crucially, no cash coming in.

“It wasn’t too bad,” he added. “We managed to keep on top of the course, keep it cut and playable. It wasn’t easy because there were no customers but we got through it. It’s been busy since golf was allowed again and, apart from then, we’ve not really had any anxious moments.

“And I’ve certainly got no regrets about taking on the course. Being in charge has been the biggest plus point.

“I’ve not had a committee telling me what to do. I made all the decisions early on and you either survive or you don’t. if you get it wrong, you don’t.”

Then, turning to his wife, he adds: “We’ve done alright haven’t we?