I’ve been studying!
No. Seriously. Stop laughing.
I’ve even been taking tests. More importantly, I’ve been passing tests.
On August 3, I was elected as a member of the PGA of America. I’m proud to be one of the 28,000 PGA professionals who are charged with growing and increasing the enjoyment of the game.
The process of becoming a PGA of America member was more challenging than I had imagined. Because I’m a former member of the PGA Tour I wasn’t required to take the playing ability test that all PGA of America members must pass. That’s a good thing because my game hasn’t been so sharp lately.
I was required to take and pass 14 tests given in four sittings that cover a vast amount of material on the business of golf. The curriculum was diverse and included subjects like teaching theory, business planning, golf car fleet management, customer relations, food and beverage, market and merchandising, turfgrass, etc. I have a renewed appreciation for the value a PGA professional brings to a golf operation now that I have gone through the testing.
Of particular interest to me was the material on teaching golf. A big part of my job description as co-host of “Morning Drive” is to help our viewing audience play better golf. While I have experience as a player I’ve never worked as a formal golf instructor. My approach to teaching on television has always been to give the viewing audience playing tips just like I would give a playing partner in a pro-am. I’ll stay with that approach, but after learning the material in the PGA program I feel that I’ll be even more effective in helping people play better golf. I’ll continue this process through continuing education classes at the PGA Learning Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and by networking opportunities with other PGA professionals at functions, events and tournaments.
So why would a 47-year-old man with a steady job decide to go back to school and hit the books? The answer is simple. Golf has been very good to me. I learned this great game from PGA professionals. These men had a profound impact on my life. I learned how to play golf from PGA professionals.
But I learned so much more than that. I learned how to dress and act and speak. I learned how to conduct a golf clinic and how to make people laugh. I learned how to make people comfortable in tense situations. I learned how to win and more importantly how to lose. I learned about respect, integrity, honesty and work.
When I got in trouble I was disciplined by my pro and my dad. When I did something good I celebrated with my pro and my family. I learned the history and traditions of golf. I learned life from PGA professionals. I can’t really do anything to pay them back. But I can support them by becoming a member of their organization. Hopefully that will put me in a position to “pay forward” at least a small portion of what they taught me.