At both public and private courses, the head golf professional oversees the operations of the golf shop, including merchandise sales. The head pro may also give golf lessons, but at some golf facilities this is done by a teaching professional--a separate position. Success as a golf pro requires knowing how to successfully manage a leisure industry business, including supervising and motivating employees. A golf pro’s career path includes earning membership in the Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) of America.
Understanding Golf Operations
Many people who eventually become members of the PGA started their careers as a staff member at a public or private course. Taking a summer job during high school at a golf course--and watching the head professional at work--can help you gain an understanding of the day-to-day duties and responsibilities of a golf pro. This knowledge can help you decide whether you want to pursue golf as a career.
Aspiring golf pros must work on improving their golf games to the point they can regularly shoot around par, or under. Although club professionals are not expected to be championship caliber golfers like those on the PGA Tour, one of the requirements for earning membership in the PGA is passing a PGA Playing Ability Test. To be a good golf teacher you must have a thorough understanding of golf swing mechanics and be able to communicate this to students.
Developing Customer Service Skills
Whether at a public or private course, the golf professional’s job is to make sure the people who play there have the highest-quality golf experience possible. Golfers can be demanding customers and difficult to please. Developing an outgoing personality and the ability to listen to customers’ needs and concerns are important aspects of becoming a pro. Giving lessons to club members or daily fee golfers also requires a winning personality and a positive attitude.
Staff members of a golf facility who are seeking to become PGA members can do so through a combination of course study and on-the-job mentorship by the club’s head professional. The apprentice must pass a series of qualifying tests as well as attend seminars at the PGA Education Center located in Florida.
Recognizing the business aspects of being a golf professional, the PGA offers a PGA Golf Management (PGM) University Program through large universities in various parts of the U.S. such as Penn State, Arizona State and Florida State. The program requires a 4.5 to 5 years to complete. Graduates earn a bachelor’s degree in golf management and PGA membership.