February 17, 2011
Becoming a Class A Head Golf Professional
For a few years before I decided I wanted to major and work in the field of finance, I always planned on working towards being a golf professional. No, not a touring pro like you see on TV, but someone that works with the business aspects of golf at a country club or public golf course. Fortunately, I continued to work at golf courses throughout high school and now work at Alvamar Golf Club here in Lawrence. This gave me the opportunity to interview David Dunn, one of the golf professionals at Alvamar.
David Dunn serves as the head golf professional at Alvamar Golf Club, even though he is still considered an apprentice head golf professional. He is able to do this because he has worked at Alvamar for eleven years. Normally, someone would not be as lucky as he is to have the position he does. Unlike many people in his position, David worked his way from the bottom at Alvamar. Instead of getting a four year degree, he decided to focus on his ultimate goal of becoming a head golf professional. He began working outside as a cart boy, my current position, and slowly moved up to part-time management. After six years, David was asked to become a full-time manager at Alvamar. Shortly after this, David passed his PAT's and began his journey to becoming a Class A Head Golf Professional. David's ultimate goal is to become a Class A Head Golf Professional and be in charge of one of the many premier golf facilities in the United States. His dream job would be at any golf course that has hosted a PGA Championship or U.S. Open Championship.
Being a golf professional is a very demanding career with many responsibilities. Most golf courses and country clubs have a pro shop where they sell merchandise and run most of the daily operations. A golf professional is responsible for acting as a manager of that pro shop. Therefore, they are responsible for creating a staff and running the daily operations like; keeping track of invoices and inventory, budgeting, scheduling tournaments and keeping up with customer service. On top of running the pro shop, some, but not all, golf professionals will fit in time during the day to give lessons if they are certified to do so. Golf professionals act as a representative of the golf course and the upper management because they come in direct contact with the members of country clubs or customers at your public golf course. They are also encouraged to represent the golf club by participating in nearby tournaments. When I spoke with David Dunn, he mentioned that the most demanding parts of his job are; putting in lots of time to make everything run smoothly and keeping up with customer service with members of the country club, potential members, and the customers at the public golf course.
It normally takes a long time to reach a head professional position at a golf course. In order to reach a head professional position, you must first be hired as an assistant professional or an apprentice head professional. Normally to be hired as an assistant pro, you need to have a college degree, show experience in the field, and actually be a good golfer. Once you pass your Player's Ability Test, or PATs, you are finally on your way to becoming a head golf professional. PAT's consist of one day, 36 holes of golf, multiple competitors, and limited spots to be filled. In order to pass your PAT, you have to shoot a low enough score to make the cut at the end of the day. After your PAT, you are considered an apprentice head golf professional. You then have to take a couple written exams and enroll in and pass a program before you are considered a Class A Head Golf Professional. Once you become a Class A Professional, you can become a head pro at any golf course that will hire you. Becoming a head pro also opens a lot of opportunities up in the future. You can work your way up to management or work in the corporate offices of the companies that own country clubs.
When I asked David what he liked most about his job, he went right back to what he said was most demanding. He loves the long hours at the golf course because it is where he loves to be. He also says he is very fortunate because of the people he has been able to work with, the people he has been able to work for, and the people he has been able to meet. Being a golf professional opens a lot of doors, since it is such a social job. He has been all over the country as a guest of many people he has met strictly through his job.
Obviously it takes a lot to be a head golf professional. You have to have plenty of time, dedication, great people skills, and lots of patience on top of an actual good golf game, which is hard enough. In order for me to ever become a golf professional, I would have to take more time to focus on my game and become more involved at the golf course. I would have to let people know what my goals are, and that I want to work towards becoming a professional. I know I already have the people skills required for the job, but I would need to work on my patience. Getting to where David Dunn is takes a long time, and I would need to realize that it all does not happen over night and that I am probably in for the long haul.