And there we have it,
five full days at the PGA Headquarters in the Belfry complete! It was full of learning, fun and opportunities to connect with fellow PGA Professionals!
I arrived on the Sunday evening to settle in, relax and find my groundings in the four-star resort before the week began Monday morning!
The resort is only a 10 minute drive from Birmingham Airport, however, this taxi cost more than double the Ryanair flight from Dublin (£27 vs €9.99)! About four of us flew over from Ireland which was great for company along the way.
Complimentary use of the spa and leisure facilities were greatly appreciated throughout the week, and Sam’s (Torrence) Bar was where we resided most evenings after our daily three course meal in the Michelin star Ryder Grill Restaurant. We got to know one another and chill-out together before heading to bed!
The hotel was beautiful and the PGA staff were always friendly and helpful, making it a very enjoyable experience for all first years.
One of my favourite sessions was the Coaching on Wednesday, where Master PGA Professional Jim Christine took us through the fundamentals of coaching and gave us a masterclass on how to conduct a lesson from start to finish.
We all gathered Monday morning at 9am, where we were welcomed by the PGA’s Training Executive for Golf Development, Simon Hubbard. We then had a two hour talk from performance coach Jamie Edwards, creator of Trained Brain. This talk was intended to get our juices flowing, our minds opened to unlimited possibilities and to develop the necessary tools that would allow us to tap into our highest potential. I learned a lot from this session (not to mention, I was called up in front of the entire group to perform some embarrassing tasks alongside Jamie!), it made us think deeper about the things the life/job of being a PGA Professional brings along with it. As he said, you need to have “conversations” rather than “chats” with yourself, get real about things and take it to the next level.
This was the scariest day for a lot of the first years, as we each had to stand before our group, and give a presentation on a physical movement we were assigned before the week began, for Sports Science. I had to do a presentation on a jumping action, and show how it could be linked to movements in the golf swing. We each spoke about the muscles that are involved in the action, and performed the movements in the presentation also.
On day three we were taken into a classroom with renowned Master PGA Professional Jim Christine. He spoke to us about ball-flight laws, his extraordinary meandering career-path as a golf coach, his valuable time spent with the legendary John Jacobs who recently passed away, and later took us out to the beautiful Belfry Driving Range. We were joined by a beginner golfer, who volunteered to be Jim’s student for a 40-minute lesson in front of us. Jim talked us through the steps he was taking and why he was saying/doing certain things with the pupil. He gave us some very valuable insights into how he conducts himself and showed excellent communication skills throughout, too.
We gathered in the workshop at 9am with our two instructors for the day. They took us through the procedures of setting up your workshop safely and efficiently. Then we went out to the Belfry Driving Range again, where we were instructed on all of the procedures to carry out a custom fitting session effectively. It was very interesting to hear about all of the steps a professional should take, to get every piece of information possible, and find the very best fitting club for the player. We then all returned to the workshop, and with the instructor’s assistance, we built an entire golf club from scratch! Some of the parts we used were: a forged iron club-head, a generic steel shaft, a grip, a ferrule, a piece of cork, lead dust, double-sided tape, and all of the necessary tools to bring these pieces together!
On the final day, we sat in the Vardon room inside the PGA Headquarters. We were lectured on the importance of building a business model for your golf shop, how to display your products correctly and how to set yourself apart as a business from competition, using sales and marketing strategies.
It was a very interesting week from start to finish. Working from 9am-5pm each day, we hadn’t much time to rest. Although, on the Thursday night a group of us organised taxis into the city of Birmingham, and had a night out in one of the city’s finest venues; PRYSM. We had an amazing night there, and got back to our beds in good time to rest for Friday’s 9am lecture!
I certainly took for granted the level of detail, knowledge and experience a golf club professional brings to club’s across the UK & Ireland, by being a PGA member and gone through this rigorous training process. It sheds light on the importance of having a PGA Professional at any golfing venue. Their knowledge really is infinitely valuable.