The PGA Journey Continues... and Impresses

 As seen in Golf Business January/February 2022 

jk.jpgBy Jay Karen, NGCOA CEO

With this issue being published the month that both NGCOA and PGA will converge in Orlando, it seems like a good time to provide a little window into my experience thus far in becoming a PGA member.

I publicly announced my intent to become a PGA professional in May 2021. The next month, at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, I passed the Playing Ability Test (PAT) on the first attempt. Barely. I hit the required number on the nose, including a harrowing 36th hole. After basking in the glow of checking that box, I turned my attention to what I figured might be the easier obstacles: the educational requirements to meet on the way to Class A status. I assumed it would be easier, because I’ve always been a great student, and I’ve been in and around this golf thing for twenty five years.


Boy was I wrong! About the easy part, anyway. I enrolled in the December 2021 Level 1 Seminar, which ran online 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.  Attending these intense seminars is only one part of the process.  There is a rigorous work portfolio that must be also completed.  The classes and portfolio are in the areas of facility management and teaching and coaching. It is thorough. Intense. Daunting. Oh, and there are two more levels after all of this is complete.


The classes on facility management were impressive. A lot of time was spent on understanding - and crafting - strategic goals for both private and public facilities. Analyzing complex profit and loss statements and performance reports, with historical and comparative analysis. The holistic importance of player development was emphasized. Then we dove into the physics and technology behind the golf swing, golf equipment and the fundamentals of good lesson planning and lesson giving. The instructors all had careers in golf operations, management and teaching, and were excellent in the online environment.


What occurred to me late into the seminar were those times over the years when industry practitioners might whisper into my ear, “Just because someone is PGA doesn’t mean they know anything about how to run a business.” From my limited experience, it’s clear to me that anyone going through the modern-day education is getting a clear understanding about the business. The education is way beyond “grip and stance.” I can’t vouch for the talent, skills and acumen for all PGA professionals, but thus far I can vouch for an impressive educational curriculum, delivery and requirements.


Ultimately, the proof in the pudding is how much an individual contributes to the success of your golf course through the job duties placed upon them - with or without those three letters behind the name. And what someone contributes to the business’s success is a timely issue, because we are looking at short and long term workforce challenges in golf - a topic we will be exploring at the upcoming Golf Business Conference.


I’m encouraged so far. Overwhelmed by the work I have to do in my spare time, but definitely encouraged.  I can’t wait to see all my industry friends, members and peers in the coming weeks on the road!