Jody Addison: My career as a PGA Professional overseas

Jody Addison: My career as a PGA Professional overseas


PGA Professional Jody Addison talks about his journey from his native Scotland via England and Australia, to his current role as Director of Golf at the recently opened Apes Hill Golf Resort in Barbados.

What has been your career path to date?

I started my teaching career at Royal Liverpool Golf Club and also spent nearly six years at Sunningdale, before heading overseas to the US and then the Maldives, and then Sandhurst Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia. It has been a varied career, from traditional UK golf clubs to working in a more hectic environment where hospitality played a big part in the day-to-day operations. Then I arrived at Apes Hill in November 2021, and here I am a year and a half into my new role as Director of Golf here, which I am absolutely loving.

What attracted you to working overseas in the first instance?

In Scotland, we’re accustomed to four months a year playing on temporary greens, so the weather was a huge attraction, but so is having golf 12 months a year. If you’re coaching, and snow closes the courses, you’re not earning. There’s a little bit of pressure there. Working abroad, the lifestyle is different, and there are financial benefits too. There’s a lot more money to be earned abroad. So, I’d say those three aspects: climate, lifestyle and finance.

How did you hear about the role at Apes Hill and what qualities do you think got you the job?

Roddy Carr, a member at Sunningdale, is also a director and course design consultant at Apes Hill. He reached out to the head pro, Keith Maxwell, to ask if he knew anyone suitable. A place like this is not in everyone’s comfort zone, and it’s not for everyone, but they knew I’d lived in the Maldives, and I was comfortable with it. I had the traditional high-end golf experiences from Royal Liverpool and Sunningdale, and the residential community and strong sporting background from Melbourne.

How does your job at Apes Hill differ from your last role?

It’s not often you get the chance to create a golf club. I arrived a year before we opened, and it was cool to be a part of that journey. Being headhunted for the position, and being involved in everything, is quite special to me and a unique opportunity.

Just over 16 months in, how are you finding the job and what does a typical working day involve?

Every day is different as I’m in charge of membership, involved in the sales process and I’ve got a big coaching role. I facilitate fittings and lessons at our new Performance Centre. I also assist Ed Paskins, our head greenkeeper, on the golf course. Is there a problem out there, and if there is, how do we rectify it? Then there’s the pro shop, inventory control and merchandising. In addition to that, we’re still creating things: the Racquet Centre is unfolding, then the Par 3 course, so we must make sure we’ve got everything we need.

What golf facilities are on offer at the resort and how many golf staff will be working alongside you?

We recently opened the Performance Centre, which I would eventually like to promote for elite juniors in the Caribbean. Then there’s the 19th hole, based on the iconic 17th at TPC Sawgrass, and a par 3 course where every hole is inspired by a classic. By November, I want to have a full-time coaching pro in place. That would allow me to step back, but I’m still available to coach if members want that.

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

I keep my eye on technological advancements. If you stand still, you’re moving backwards. This is not an industry where you can become fully qualified and that’s it. It’s always changing every year. You’ve got to keep yourself fresh, see what’s out there and what you can bring in that’s going to add value to your membership. That’s a key thing to stand by.

What do you see as being the most challenging parts of your role? And the most rewarding?

In a big country, you’ve got things readily available to you, whereas here you must think about procurement well in advance. Our head greenkeeper wants a couple of mowers, and it could be 14 months before we see those. That’s the most frustrating thing, so you can’t be complacent in bringing in what you need, because you will be too late. I’ve enjoyed seeing everything come to fruition. Seeing it on paper is one thing, but the actual real-life product is the rewarding part.

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 still talk to John Heggarty at Royal Liverpool and Keith Maxwell at Sunningdale. Getting training from them from the start of my career was so valuable. Learning the ropes there – well, they are two of the finest golf venues in the UK. When Paul McGinley was Ryder Cup captain, he would come in and seek advice from Keith. Roddy Carr was the most recent mentor to me, from his experience at IMG Tourism to how he’s so good with people and even more so at course design. He and I have worked closely together nearly every day for 14 months.

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

Understanding your customers is vital because that helps you provide world-class service. Know what they want and provide it before they even ask. Find something that helps you stand out when you apply for jobs. I was lucky that I had high pedigree clubs really standing out in my CV. There are so many smart people out there and so many branches you can take in golf – be an expert in one of them.

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

Be culturally aware. A former British colony like here isn’t too much of a lifestyle change from the UK, whereas somewhere like Asia will be different. The country you choose can determine whether you’ll last or whether you’ll like it. Back home you’ve got summer golf and winter golf. Here, the golf product doesn’t really change because the climate is so good all year round. If you’re hungry for that, then working abroad is definitely the way forward. 


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