Calum Hey: My career as a PGA Professional overseas

Calum Hey: My career as a PGA Professional overseas


PGA Professional Calum Hey talks about the incredible journey that has taken him from his Yorkshire roots, working at clubs in Shipley and Keighley, to a new role as the lead professional at Cape Wickham Golf Links, a high-end resort located on a remote island 50 miles off the north coast of Tasmania.

What has been your career path to date?

I began my PGA qualification in 2017 at Shipley Golf Club, near Bradford in West Yorkshire, which was a great place to start. It has a lively and active membership, which I built strong relationships with and had an extremely busy coaching diary. I also ran a successful junior coaching programme which was over filled most weeks. During this time, I had reasonable amount of success as a player in the Yorkshire PGA and North Region PGA events, winning the YPGA Players tour Order of Merit and the Assistants Order of Merit in 2020 and 2021. At the end of 2021 I decided to move on to Keighley Golf Club, which is just a few miles up the road, to try reignite a spark at the club which I grew up at. 

I wasn’t back at Keighley long before I got the opportunity to come to Cape Wickham, but I really enjoyed my time there and tried to boost the membership with some group beginner coaching and junior coaching. 

In the three months since I’ve been at Cape Wickham, I have met a lot of interesting and influential people who are now part of my network. It's been a great place to settle into in my first job overseas as an expatriate. Coming to a course like this is the first step to reaching my goals and ambitions in my golf career.

What attracted you to working overseas in the first instance?

As a player and a coach, it’s the weather that attracted me the most, but it was also appealing to see how things are done in other places around the world, and golf has given me the opportunity to use my job to travel. It's been a goal of mine for years, and I was just holding out for the right opportunity.

What qualities/experience do you think got you the job?

Working at busy golf courses has helped me display leadership in guest hospitality, exemplifying excellent customer service and creating a positive atmosphere for guest relations. Since coming to Cape Wickham this has grown even more.

I also have lots of experience of running a busy coaching diary back in the UK and coaching is something they wanted to grow at the club and in the local community. These were the key things they were looking for. I’m also Level 3 coach and hold the PGA Degree of from the University of Birmingham.

 Why did they pick you over an Australian candidate? 

The majority of staff at Cape Wickham are backpackers from the UK. I think due to how remote the island is – it’s hard to get Australian residents over. Although I much prefer to think it was due to my experience and qualifications within the golf industry. 

What facilities are on offer at Cape Wickham?

Being such a young course – it first opened in 2015 – and such in a remote area – it’s located on King Island, which is 90km from mainland Tasmania – has been difficult for the owners to develop their long-term desired facilities. We have one of the best golf courses in the world with practice facilities and 16 rooms for accommodation overlooking Victoria Bay. It truly is a unique experience, and, given time, it will be one of the best in the world. The food is fantastic too, with a great kitchen team producing high-end food using locally sourced produce including crayfish, salmon and beef.

How does the new job differ from your last role?

The standards are much higher on a day-to-day basis, as you would expect at a course which is ranked no.2 in Australia’s Top 100 ranking and inside the world’s top 25. There are no members at Cape Wickham so the relationship with customers is very different. You may have one or two days and then the timesheet is full of completely new people, whereas in my last role I probably knew 300 or 400 people by name and had previous experiences with them. 

How are you finding the new role and what does a typical working day involve? 

I’m really enjoying it. The staff I work with are great and we are quite a tight knit group. I find the role exciting as it’s another step forward in my career. A typical working day will include preparing the carts ready for the day’s golfers at 6.30am. From there its general golf operations and serving the customers to whatever their needs may be and stocking pro shop. We also offer caddying for guests and coaching throughout the week.

What areas of the club’s golf operations are you looking to enhance and what future plans does the club have?

I’d really like to boost the coaching profile at Cape Wickham. It would be great to utilize the facilities we have for the golf even further. There are also big plans to build a new clubhouse, more accommodation and another 18-hole golf course around the north side of the lighthouse. This would be an amazing addition to what we already have. Hopefully, it can happen soon, and I can be a part of the expansion plans here. 

What do you see as being the most challenging parts of your job?

There are always challenges to overcome in any role, but I always aim to overcome them to make things as comfortable as possible. The weather can be unpredictable at times with the wind, so on some days golfers can be limited to how much golf they can play on their trip here, so keeping them satisfied is probably the most challenging when all they want to do is play golf. Thankfully, the team as a whole work together to make sure they always leave wanting to visit again. 

How easy/difficult has it been to settle into a life in Tasmania? Did you know anyone out there before? How do spend your time outside of work?

It’s been really easy, to be honest. With a lot of the staff being from the UK, we are all really close. I actually travelled out here with a friend from the UK, so it was a fresh start for both of us. Outside of work I still love playing golf and I’m lucky I get to play such an amazing golf course every day. A lot of the staff play or are getting into it too, so we play a lot together. Away from the golf course at the staff accommodation we play pool, table tennis and regular poker nights which is good fun, but other than that there's not much else to do here, which is probably the only negative. Although it’s not far to Melbourne – it’s a 45-munite flight– where we take regular trips during our time off.

How hard was it getting work permits and visas?

I came on a working holiday visa which was really easy to acquire, and actually came through in minutes following my application. The luxury of working on King Island is it is in the category for regional work and would allow me to stay for longer in Australia. 

Have you had any mentors during your career or people who you have been able to lean on for advice? If so, who and what have you learned from them?

I would say I have always had good friends around me who would always give me honest and open opinions which is good. I’d say I have a few mentors, but as far as my golf career is concerned it would be my golf coach I worked with for the past seven years, Tony Tomlinson from the Pete Cowan Golf Academy. He always offered advice on the golf coaching side of being a professional golfer and has probably has the biggest input towards my career in golf. 

What do you know now that you wish you’d had known when you first started out?

I wish I had done my PGA qualifications sooner. That’s the main thing I know now is that it can lead you down so many avenues if you’re open to them. I'm always open to new experiences and challenges and luckily I have a qualification that can bring those options to the table.

What advice would you pass on to other PGA Members who may be interested in working abroad and Australia specifically?

Do it! The worst thing that happens is you don’t like it and you can go home. It’s a great chance to use your profession to see the world and meet new people and experience new opportunities. Australia specifically offers so much great golf, great weather in most parts, and it’s an easy switch to begin with due to the common language. It was always something I wanted to do and so far, I am loving it and it's living up to expectations. 


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