A new chapter begins - former Premier League star graduates as PGA Member

A new chapter begins - former Premier League star graduates as PGA Member


Following a football career in which he earned 65 caps for Nigeria, former Premier League striker Peter Odemwingie graduated as a PGA Member last month. We asked him to outline his future plans now that he can lay claim to excelling in not one but two sports.

Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Imagine, then, the contentment of a man who has found not one but two jobs that afforded him such a luxury.

Step forward Peter Odemwingie, the Premier League footballer-turned-PGA Member who now wants to inspire others to realise their potential.

It is a small percentage of people who make it as a pro in one sport, so to have achieved the feat in two speaks volumes to Odemwingie’s talent. It is also abundantly clear that sheer hard work has played a key role in his journey as both a footballer and a golfer.

“I’m proud because I challenged myself not only to apply effort in a sport but also academically,” he says.

“I hope my story motivates people to follow suit, whether that’s through The PGA or any other form of studies.”

To follow precisely in his footsteps would require quite the feat of navigation given his varied travels.

Born in Tashkent – now the capital of Uzbekistan – when it was part of the Soviet Union, he moved to his father’s home country of Nigeria at the age of two but got his secondary school education in Russia, from where his mother hails.

He had been on the books of CSKA Moscow as a youngster, but it was in Nigeria that he made the step up to senior football with Bendell Insurance, followed by spells in Belgium and France, before he returned to Russia to play for CSKA’s rivals Lokomotiv Moscow.

Odemwingie scored goals wherever he went and soon the wiry forward, blessed with exceptional pace and an acquired ability to dribble past defenders, was proving himself on the exalted stage of the English Premier League with West Brom. It was during his time at The Hawthorns, where he set the tone with a match-winning goal on his debut, that golf first came on to his radar.

“I started playing just at the end of my West Brom days because a few of the boys played, and I could see the excitement they had for it,” explains Odemwingie, who retired from football in 2018 after a stint in Indonesia.

“They would go and play on a Tuesday after training, and they’d have their golf gear and be talking about it, but I couldn’t understand it because the golf vocabulary is so different to anything else.

“Then on one of the pre-season training trips with West Brom, Roy Hodgson took us to a golf resort and people were doing putting and playing full rounds on days off, so I was just passing by the range, and I thought I’d try and hit some balls. I was wearing slippers, but I hit a few, and I loved the sound and watching the ball fly. It was downhill so it carried further. I thought, ‘OK, there’s something in this’.”

With the encouragement of his wife, Odemwingie had some lessons while on holiday in Turkey that summer and “fell in love”, leading to the purchase of his first set of clubs in 2013 – and they certainly got some good use.

“I was at the driving range all the time hitting so many balls that the people there had to tell me, ‘Peter, it’s better to have a lesson!’. I could hit 500 balls a day, I was so keen and practising to get good, and I watched so many videos of professional players to learn their swing.”

He heeded the advice and took a few more lessons, with his affection for the game continuing to grow as his skill level rose.

Odemwingie joined Aston Wood Golf Club in Staffordshire and achieved a handicap that brought him within the threshold to undertake the Playing Ability Test, which is where his coolness under pressure came in handy.

“I had to shoot 15-over par or better across two rounds, and I finished on exactly that score. It was a tap-in putt on the last, but the shot to put me in that position was a chip over the bunker off an average lie. I really didn’t want to have to redo the whole thing, so it was a lot of pressure – like taking an important penalty.”

It was four years later that Odemwingie graduated from the University of Birmingham, and he can now reflect on a process that tested both his technical ability and his academic prowess.

I hope my story motivates people to follow suit.


“The course takes some effort to accomplish. I hear that people do quit halfway through because of the volume of it and the pressure that comes with it. It wasn’t easy, but I think the character I developed from football helped. I’ve had those times when I had a goal drought and didn’t score for five or six months, but you have to keep going – sometimes you just have to endure.”

The challenge of earning PGA Membership has given Odemwingie a new lease of life and he is grateful to have found a new path, with mentors such as head pro Jak Hamblett helping him on his way.

“I’m 42 now and it feels like I was a teenager one more time. It’s a blessing really as I got to put my history and my football career to one side and I told myself, ‘You’re a young man just beginning a new journey in a sport that you fell in love with’. I saw myself as a young kid and felt young going to two classes on a residential week in England with mostly younger people.”

Peter now hopes to use his status to grow the sport, particularly in Nigeria and Russia, which have produced many well-known footballers but where golf still has huge growth potential.

“These are very sporting nations, but they don’t have golfers representing them on the world stage, which is a shame,” he says.

“I’ve had to put my studies first these past few years, but now I have graduated I am in a position to do something and I hope to get backing to organise some tournaments in Nigeria for decent prize money.

“The former USSR is a huge territory and places like Kazakhstan have hosted Challenge Tour events, so I’d like to go there and speak with people about opportunities to grow the game in that part of the world too. Hopefully now with my status as a PGA Professional it will open doors and people will take it seriously, and from there you go step by step towards your goals.”

As for his own development, Peter evidently possesses a boundless energy so it’s no surprise to learn he has already planned out his next steps.

“I have all the books ready to make the next step in the coaching, which is the plan now to read as many books as I can. I want to keep on following that path of continuous professional development and I’m interested in the courses the PGA offers.

“I’m taking a break for one year where I’ll read and learn as much as I can and then I’ll go back and do the honours degree at the University of Birmingham from next September.”

And his roadmap extends well beyond that, with Peter eager to maximise his potential not only as a coach, but also as a player.

“My eyes are on the senior tour in the future because I definitely know there is a player in me. This game offers us longevity and if you stay healthy you can play for a long time, as someone like Gary Player shows.

“Hopefully when I’m old with a lot of grey hairs I’ll be able to tell a pretty cool story about my time playing golf,” he said.

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