Finding a true partnership on the PGA Training Programme

Finding a true partnership on the PGA Training Programme

13/06/2024

George Parker and Megan Roberts are two rising stars from the pool of 2024 PGA Graduates. The duo met during their first year of the PGA training programme and instantly clicked. They formed a close friendship that led to a romantic relationship, as they helped each other learn and develop through the PGA qualification. As recent graduates they are now forging a successful coaching career side-by-side by building an academy at Westerham Golf Club.

What attracted you both to the PGA training programme?

We both wanted a career in golf and wanted to see what opportunities lay ahead for us. We were always inspired by being a professional in a field you enjoy and golf was top of the list.

What do you enjoy about working in golf?

Helping and inspiring others to achieve in golf, to give them an opportunity to try a new hobby, meet new people who share the same interests and to grow the game, making it accessible for everyone.

Whats challenging about the job?

Being able to adapt and to be versatile to whatever faces you each day. Golf is a unique sport and it can be frustrating for golfers at all levels. That is where perseverance is key. It’s important to be patient.

When you turned professional was it primarily to become coaches?

The idea of helping people and helping them achieve their goals gives us great satisfaction. We always had an intention to coach from the start and we haven’t looked back since. We were both good players, Megan won many Kent county events representing Sundridge Park and George won numerous events at his clubs including the club championships and competing in county competitions. When we both joined the PGA, we did so by having to cut our handicaps dramatically. Megan cut her handicap from 14 to 5 in less than year and George cut his handicap from 7 to scratch in a matter of months. We were both driven to make a career in golf happen.

What did you enjoy the most about the PGA training programme?

The residentials were always extremely insightful, we both enjoyed the practical aspect of the sessions. It was interesting learning different aspects to golf like business, sports science and custom fitting. It has inspired us to look to the future with us both wanting to study further and increase our knowledge, particularly in the fields of sports psychology and biomechanics.

How much time do you put aside for your studies?

We often put aside 5-10 hours a week between coaching and working in golf retail.

How important do you think it is to try to get involved in all areas of the golf business when you are training?

It is extremely important because there is so much to golf. You need to be able to help whoever walks through the door, to be able to give them the best possible service. Understanding all aspects of the business helps with that. We’ve both enjoyed learning about running a business and the challenges that come with it and if we didn’t know of all the areas involved, we would have found it a lot harder.

You became a couple through the PGA training programme. Could there be any wedding bells on the cards, a PGA love story?

We certainly talk about our future together. It started as we both took a role at Tonbridge Golf Centre. We met there entirely by chance, joining at the same time, working in the shop and coaching. We grew to know each other and began the programme together. The PGA training brought us closer together. 

As we helped each other through the programme, we realised that we shared the same goals and interests. We became a strong team - we couldn’t have done it without each other.

- George Parker and Megan Roberts

What are your ambitions?

We hope to have our own facility where we can help all golfers, new and experienced to evolve in their own golfing journey. We are excited of what the future holds now that we have completed three years of training and aspire to be in charge of our own golf academy one day. The dream is to have our name above the door one day and we are well on our way!

The class of 2024 graduates have gone into a wide spectrum of roles within the golf industry. How different were their trainee roles to yours?

We were very lucky to have found each other in the same boat and it really helped us complete the course. Some of our fellow trainees may have found the course a bit harder tackling it on their own. We would recommend to anyone to make friends and you will be amazed how much they can help you. Obviously for us that blossomed into more than just friends. The professional golf industry is a place where everyone is happy to help, there’s so much respect for each other, it really makes you feel part of something bigger than you.

What qualities do you need to be a good PGA professional?

You need to be friendly, encouraging and welcoming. You need to be able to adapt, especially with different types of people you will encounter. You need to be prepared, organised and ultimately to be able to inspire whoever comes to see you. You never know who you could be helping.

How tough was the recruitment process to get onto the course?

The hardest part was reducing our handicaps to be eligible to get on the course, it took a lot of hard work, practice and dedication to get to the level required.

Apart from financial, what are the other benefits to being able to train on the job learning to coach?

We are lucky to be in a profession where many before us have inspired and paved the way for us to follow. It is important to learn from those who have been before as they have been through it and have the knowledge. Being thrown in the deep end has only benefited us as it adds to that adaptive skill you need as every lesson is different you never know what you will get.

Did Covid-19 trigger the change in career?

I always wanted a career in golf. I was a data analyst for an insurance company working in London, office based. I had to get up early and commute in and work long hours. When Covid hit I was made redundant, and it gave me the opportunity to reassess what I really wanted to do in life.

At the time I was playing off a handicap of 7 but I decided I wanted to pursue my dream career in golf. My Dad always said to me you should follow what you really want to do. I’ve always felt that golf brought out the best in me.

I’m a hard worker so I put my mind to it and went to work on my game intensively for four months, reducing my handicap down to scratch in that short time in order to enrol on the PGA course. I did so because I wanted to coach. I have always enjoyed watching how the world’s best coaches work with players. Coaching fascinates me. I have a keen interest in the golf swing.

How you applied yourself in a short space of time to reduce your handicap dramatically is incredible. Has that helped you in your approach to coaching, to instil the confidence in your pupils that anything is possible?

Yes 100%. I use it in my lessons all the time. People come along and they are always a little bit confused and lost with their game. To hear a story like mine, of where I’ve come from and how hard I’ve had to work to get there, they can relate to that. This game is so difficult, even for the best players in the world and it’s such a lonely game as well. So having somebody that understands and is relatable to you is a big positive.

I’m a big advocate of practice and working hard. It’s something that I’ve always done. One of the big questions I always ask my pupils is ‘how often do you practice?” The amount of times you hear that they very rarely go to the range or if they do I see them just hit a 100 balls with a driver in their hands. I find that quite comical really. So, I tell them that if you want to improve you really have to put the hours in. Golf is a game that you get out as much as you put in.

How would you describe your golf coaching style?

I think I have a very holistic approach. I like people to have a lot of fun learning. For instance, with the short game, I ask them to chip with a club that they’d never use like a 4-iron. In my group coaching sessions I always start by asking the question: “what club do you chip with in your bag?” and most of them answer wedges. Then I explain that it’s actually every club. I was self-taught as a golfer. I never really had many lessons because I was always fascinated to see what I could do myself. I often went to the range and intentionally hit balls off-centre to see what they would do. How far would the ball travel? What direction would it fly in? It’s a big thing I do with juniors. I like them to experiment, make mistakes and learn from them.

I put strike tape on their irons and I say, cover the tape by hitting different areas of the face, learning from it and having fun as well. As a coach you are the catalyst. You are the person that’s leading them in their journey of discovery or pathway into the game of golf. Your job is to give them the right way forward.

George & Megan are developing their golf academy at Westerham Golf Club. For more information visit: www.westerhamgc.co.uk

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