23 Apr 18
First class: (from left) Jennifer Potter (Titleist Female PGA Assistant of the Year), Michael Bradfield (Year 2 Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year), Michael Shrieve (Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year) and Matthew Pugh (Year 1 Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year)
Hertfordshire golf professional Michael Shrieve has realised a longheld ambition in what is proving to be a memorable year by winning The PGA’s most prestigious award for its Assistants.
Shrieve, head professional at The Grove, Watford, the stage for the 2016 British Masters, has been named Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year.
In recognition of his achievement, Shrieve collected the Whitcombe Cox Trophy and a cheque for £3,500 from Matthew Johnson, Titleist brand director (pictured left), and PGA captain John Heggarty (pictured centre) at the PGA Graduation Ceremony held at the University of Birmingham.
Michael Bradfield (Elie Links) and Matthew Pugh (John Reay Golf Centre) were top in Years 2 and 1 respectively, Jennifer Potter (Loch Lomond Golf Club) was the leading female Assistant of the Year, and Alexander Price (Pontypool Golf Club) (pictured below with GolfPride regional manager EMEA, Conor Dillon) won the GolfPride – Equipment Technology and Custom-Fitting Award.
Addressing the 98 graduates plus the friends and relatives who had joined them, Heggarty, the head PGA Professional at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, said: “The PGA represents the biggest brand in golf and you are about to embark on a new journey that will take you in a variety of directions.
“You started the programme as ordinary, passionate and enthusiastic golfers. You now leave the programme as extraordinary skilled professionals.”
Shrieve, 28, set his sights on winning the award after finishing third in the Year 2 standings. Achieving his aim, however, involved making sacrifices – not least his holidays.
“I made it my goal to win the award after finishing third last year,” he explained. “I was the top student at Bournemouth where I studied sports management and wanted to follow suit with The PGA.
“I’m not the greatest golfer in the world but I really enjoy the academic and practical side, especially coaching and retailing. So I gave up my annual leave to ensure my assignments were the best they could possibly be.
“I’ve wanted to be a PGA pro since I started playing golf when I was 15 and I’m incredibly proud to have qualified as one.”
Shrieve’s route into golf was the result of what turned out to be a happy accident.
“I was really into skateboarding in my teens but had one bad fall too many,” he recalled. “My parents said enough was enough so, as my best friend at the time was obsessed by golf, I joined him for a game. Although I managed to get the ball airborne only a couple of times, I was hooked and it’s gone on from there.”
That first round at Chartridge Park Golf Club in Buckinghamshire not only resulted in Shrieve taking up the game but also having lessons with Jeremy Riley, the PGA pro there and working part time in his shop.
Shrieve also worked in Florida for 10 months and, attached to The Grove, embarked on his PGA training after obtaining his degree in sports management.
His time at The Grove has not only coincided with his three of years of training culminating in being named Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year but also his appointment as head PGA Professional.
“I was appointed the assistant operations manager to start with and then 10 months ago the head pro left and they turned to me,” he explained.
“Seven PGA pros report to me and there’s a huge amount of responsibility. The Grove has shown a great deal of faith in me and I can’t thank them enough. Becoming head pro was a career goal and this is a dream job.”
By way of proving things can happen in threes, Shrieve has another momentous event to look forward to in what he describes as a ‘whirlwind year’.
“I’m getting married in August,” he added, “so the prize money will be really useful in going towards paying for the wedding. I’d like to thank Titleist for sponsoring the award and The PGA for my excellent training.”
The PGA Training Programme, encompassing the three year Foundation Degree, was founded more than 50 years ago and covers all aspects of golf including business, equipment technology and repairs, rules and tournament organisation, sports science and sports psychology.
Training and education remain an integral part of The PGA - it also runs an honours degree in association with the University of Birmingham and is in partnership with the University of Highlands and Islands in Scotland.
Once qualified, PGA Members undergo a process of continual professional development to keep them up to speed with all the latest developments in the sport and wider golf industry.
PGA chief executive Rob Maxfield said: “The PGA Graduation day is always inspirational and gives me great confidence each year the game of golf is in good hands for generations to come.
“The quality of the graduates coming through our PGA Training Programme is second to none and there’s no doubt they are starting at the beginning of their careers which could take them to almost any corner of the world.
“I congratulate each and every one of them for their hard work and effort they have put into obtaining the qualification. I wish them all success wherever the game of golf takes them.”
Matthew Johnson, Titleist brand director, added: “We are pleased to continue our support of the Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year award, recognising this as a starting point of the PGA's commitment to provide its members with a framework for lifelong learning.
“Titleist has had a long standing commitment to PGA Professionals, we realise and endorse that they play a key role in the development and growth of the game across all levels.
“So we are delighted to support the next generation of qualified professionals, we look forward to working with them and would like wish them well with their future careers.”