Starting Out As A PGA Assistant

Who I Am And How I Got Here

Hi all.
Just touching base to give you updates on what has been happening and what will be coming in the near future.
I want to use this platform to give you an idea of what it is like to go through the training process of becoming a PGA Professional, right now!

A little bit about me (how I ended up here)

My story goes back just a few months. When I was sitting in my office, in Dublin, in a great company called, I pondered where my life was going as a digital marketer. I wasn’t happy. I felt something was missing and I wasn’t fully expressing myself; something inside was being wasted and going rotten.

Gary Shaw Golf Blog Office
I soon came to realise that it was my connections to golf.

I thought to myself, what do I love?…

– Teaching (I got a Level 8 degree in Mathematics, Geography and Sociology from Maynooth University in 2014 hoping to become a secondary school teacher, before then venturing into a Level 9 Postgrad in Digital Marketing at the Digital Marketing Institute in Dublin. Digital Marketing was the up and coming profession at the time and I had a big interest in it, but of course, I still didn’t know what I really wanted to do!)

– Learning (because as a coach, business owner, and employer, the learning never stops!)

– Outdoors (we do get outdoors quite a bit!)

– Entrepreneurship (I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and put on my own show!)

– Golf (I’ve been involved in golf from a very young age, perhaps as early as five)

– Philosophy (I believe to coach someone, you need to really understand how they think and feel at all times to effectively communicate with them. This requires a great understanding of culture and human instincts. Understanding others comes from understanding yourself)

– Working with people face to face (being in an office, spending 90% of my day at a desk on my computer working on data mostly became sterile, boring, unimaginative and unproductive. It just wasn’t the environment for me)

Gary Shaw Golf Idea
So, with all of this in mind, and with the help of an excellent fellow employee who had then become my manager, we had some great conversations, got real about what I was doing, and I finally admitted to myself that I was on the entirely wrong path, and it was killing my soul. I applied for multiple Assistant Professional positions near to my home and after receiving positive news from a few of these clubs, I handed in my notice once I was guaranteed a position in Tullamore. Being a strong club with 800+ members, I felt I could learn plenty under the experienced PGA Professional Bernard Quigley and craft out my skill pretty close to home. I finished up that Friday, and began working in Tullamore Pro Shop the following Monday, three days later!

I have been training for almost five months now, and can truly say, that every day flies by, I don’t even think about it. All that ever goes through my head is, how can I improve things, what can I introduce that will better communicate to the people on and off-line, etc. It is a never-ending exciting journey for me, and I honestly believe, that I will never “work” a day in my life again!

The study end of things

Gary Shaw Golf Office
This has been the biggest shock, by a long “shot”.

I had heard from fellow PGA Professionals who trained years ago that it was quite challenging, and apparently it has become a lot tougher in recent years, but wow, was I surprised!

The level of detail within the online lecture notes is outstanding, and the organisation throughout is top-notch, from the PGA and Birmingham University! I would go as far as to say, that it is superior to what I experienced at University level here in Ireland.

We, UK and Ireland based PGA Professionals are students of Birmingham University. This means that our study notes and exams are all based in and coming from this University. Since most of it is online, we only have to go over to Birmingham once a year, for a “Residential” week (you can read about my Residential experience by clicking here).

My grades have been pretty average thus far but I hope to improve them a lot going forward. I feel like I haven’t given the assignments enough respect, having been through years of college already, I took for granted that it would all work out easily with little effort. Not the case! Hard work can never be entirely substituted – efficiency is what I should be bringing from my experience.

Life is good, but we work hard! Gary Shaw Golf


The present (where we all strive to be!)

Right now, I am beginning to see what a busy pro shop is like. On certain days, we have very busy periods, but since it’s still only February, they’re not a constant like it will be during the summer. The season properly kicks off around April, lasting until about September. Adding to this increase in demand, the Irish economy appears to have passed stabilisation, and growth is taking place, even out in the rural areas of Tullamore, yes! People are willing to come in and buy new golf balls rather than go looking for spares, and even more willing to upgrade that set of clubs they bought back in 2007! Things are looking up, and I hope to be able to bring new ideas, improved services and experiences to the Irish golfer and beyond. Who knows how far online material like this could travel!

A couple of weeks ago I received my Level 1 Certificate in Coaching from the PGA, which is my first step on the ladder of coaching qualifications in golf! And coincidentally, today was my first time giving a professional lesson! Tullamore’s Head PGA Professional Bernard Quigley, took me through the paces on setting-up and conducting a junior group coaching session! We had 10 junior golfers, both boys and girls from the Tullamore area. Bernard took control of this first lesson, and gradually I will take over these sessions as time goes on. It should be fun!

The Shop & Equipment

We are working hard, preparing the pro shop (creating space is the trickiest part!) for all of the stock that has been arriving the past couple of weeks, getting ready for the busy season ahead. We have found the Taylormade M2 driver to be the best selling driver so far this year. The Titleist Pro V1 golf balls are still outselling the competition when it comes to serious golfers, and we are finding the Mizuno and Ping irons/wedges to be extremely popular!

Pop Lessons

As I keep moving forward with my coaching degree, I have set up an online coaching process on the side, that anyone can get access to! Click this link to find out more about Pop Lessons!
I shall be back in touch soon with more updates and handy nuggets of information that I hope you find useful!



Keep up to date!

You can find all of my social media profiles by clicking here.

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