The United States Golf Teachers Federation and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America are separate organizations, although they have a primary function in common. Both organizations train golf instructors and both have different levels of certification that golf teachers may attain. The USGTF focuses on training golf teachers. The PGA is an older and more diverse organization.
The PGA was founded in 1916 and performs a variety of functions. On the national level it runs the PGA Championship, one of golf’s four major tournaments, and oversees the United States Ryder Cup team. The organization promotes the game, sponsors research in areas such as turfgrass management, and educates a variety of golf professionals, including teaching pros and course managers. The PGA has 41 sub-organizations, called “Sections,” throughout the United States. The sections run numerous regional and local tournaments and instructional programs. The PGA does not run the pro tour. The PGA Tour has been a separate entity since 1968.
While the PGA includes many teaching pros and coaches among its members, the PGA has members who work in many aspects of the golfing industry. PGA members include golf course architects, golf manufacturer sales representatives, club fitters and members of the media. To become a PGA teaching pro, prospective members may either enter the PGA’s apprentice program or its university program, which leads to a college degree, typically in golf management.
The USGTF was founded in 1989. Unlike the PGA, which is involved in several different areas of golf, the USGTF was created to train and certify teaching pros. The organization bills itself as “the largest organization of strictly golf teaching professionals in the world.” The USGTF is also a member of the World Golf Teachers Federation, which includes 35 nations as of 2012.
The USGTF offers three standard levels of certification as a golf instructor, plus a fourth level that it terms a “Masters Certification” course. Participants aren’t required to start at Level I. They may begin at any of the three levels. The first level is a two-day course that may be completed in person or online. It covers basic teaching techniques. Level II is a more in-depth, four-day course taken in person. Level III is a one-week course that includes a playing ability test. Level III graduates may attend the three-day Masters course, which represents the organization’s highest certification level.