John Blanch (GM, Wentworth) – the importance of hiring PGA Members at golf facilities

John Blanch (GM, Wentworth) – the importance of hiring PGA Members at golf facilities


John Blanch is a PGA Member who has spent much of his three decades in golf working abroad, where he has managed some of the biggest golfing complexes in the world. 

The 57-year-old has predominantly worked in Asia, first as a teaching professional and then a director of golf and a general manager. In the summer of 2021, Blanch returned to the UK and joined Wentworth  Club as general manager.  

The Surrey-based venue, home to the BMW PGA Championship, hires no fewer than 21 PGA Members who work in all areas of the facility. Blanch oversees this team of golf professionals and speaking to The PGA, he explains why it’s important to hire PGA Members at golf facilities and how PGA Excel is crucial to their development and the golf industry. 

The individual running a Golf Club should enjoy an incredible passion for golf and an outstanding knowledge in golf operations and an understanding of what makes a great golf facility and what makes it tick, with the ideal person being a PGA Member.

- John Blanch (Wentworth) - PGA Professional

Why is it important for golf facilities like Wentworth to hire PGA Members?

Wentworth Club is an extensive golf operation with a distinguished heritage in the game; golf is truly our core offering. At Wentworth, our Members and their guests respect the PGA qualified team as a recognised qualification that endorses their knowledge in the sport.

Our qualified PGA team members exemplify dedication to the business at Wentworth, they gain wonderful cross-exposure which sees them move around into different areas of the facility. We have PGA Members working inside the Clubhouse, we have a Director of Golf, myself (General Manager), our Head of Membership is a PGA Member, as is our Retail Manager in the Pro Shop along with his two assistants. Then outside our Starters are PGA Members and the team at our Driving Range are too. We’ve also got one PGA Member dedicated to coaching, and another who does club fittings as well as coaching. We have a PGA Member on our greenkeeping team as well. These people have the knowledge of golf and for our Members it certainly adds a stamp of approval. They know the team are serious about what they’re doing. It creates a more professional operation.

We are very proud of the fact that we hire a number of female PGA Professional too. In fact we have got three here at the moment!

Why are we seeing more and more PGA Members take up management positions in the golf industry? 

When I qualified, the role of a PGA Professional was to become a club professional and that was partly why I moved overseas. That has now changed. Golf clubs now are being managed by PGA Professionals in management roles, this is certainly a growing trend. PGA professionals are great hires as they show loyalty to the brand in question and also to the ethos of the game.  

When I qualified that option wasn’t really there, you could only really be the club professional in the shop, which is why I went overseas where you were able to become a Director of Golf and then grow your career, moving into a different role. Golf Clubs in the USA really showcase this with PGA Professionals working across every element of the business and at the same time developing their career path.  

What qualities does a PGA Member bring to a golf facility?  

Members join Wentworth because they love golf and so this is where the PGA Member shines! A PGA Member understands what a good golf facility is about and what makes it tick. I think The PGA are doing great things with the new PGA Manager designation and introducing PGA Excel too, to educate the golf industry about what the different Membership designations means and represent.  

Those three letters ‘PGA’ can get you around the world within the golf industry. I’ve lived and worked in so many different countries and I would not have had that life without qualifying as a PGA Professional. Often when you qualify, or especially when I did, you don’t know where your focus will be. That’s why I think it’s important that everyone has the opportunity to get involved in all parts of the golf club, which is something we encourage.  

In one of my first roles I was serving beers, I was cooking burgers, I cleaned golf clubs and gave lessons. That gave me a grounding in every part of the business, which helped me in my job now because I understand the way a Golf Club runs, I’m not coming in as an outsider who happens to be a good golfer who thinks they can manage, it’s knowing how the whole operation of a golf club works. 

Why is it important for PGA Members to continue their career progression and move through the various designations through PGA Excel? 

PGA Excel is very important for PGA Members and I would encourage my team to seriously consider it. It allows them to grow their career and achieve even greater things as PGA Members within their designation. How will a Golf Club decide on a Director of Golf when they’ve got 15 applicants? PGA Excel is one way to help Golf Clubs make that decision. PGA Excel allows PGA Members to demonstrate their impact, achievement and what they’ve done in their career, so the golf facility is more likely to hire someone who has come through PGA Excel. It demonstrates further certification in what they’ve done with their career. I think it’s very important for Golf Clubs to understand what PGA Excel is, because when they do, they’re likely to hire the best people for the role. 

What made you want to pursue a career in golf management? 

When I qualified, I was advised to go work overseas. In those days, waiting to become a traditional club professional took a long time, so I went overseas to teach golf in France. Then from France I moved to Portugal, from Portugal to Germany   and back to the UK again before being offered the Director of Golf role at Palheiro Golf, Madeira (Portugal). That was my first move into management. I hadn’t planned a career in golf management I just managed to get into it. Once I was Director of Golf there, I moved to Asia in 1995 and became director of golf at a club in Vietnam (Vietnam Golf and Country Club) and then on to the Philippines in 1997 to become a General Manager. It wasn’t planned but things happen. Early in my career I spoke to a few mentors and they said ‘John, you can do it’ and that set me off on my career in golf management and here I am today! 

For me especially, I would say having spent a lot of my life in Asia, that really helped to open doors. Having the PGA qualification meant that I am a professional in golf. The facilities I worked at respected that I wasn’t just a golf professional, but a professional in golf and that I had a great knowledge of golf, and so for me that really helped open up a lot of doors, whether that be in the Philippines, Vietnam, China and other places. I wouldn’t have had the career I’ve had today without being a member of The PGA, without having that qualification and those three letters behind me. 

How did you land your current role as general manager at Wentworth? 

I’ve been a PGA Member for over 30 years, back in the day when we used fax machines! I moved overseas around 1989/1990 but actually came back in December 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I was planning on moving back to Asia having spent 25 of my 30 years as a PGA Member in Asia, but then the job at Wentworth came up, so here I am. Nobody turns down Wentworth! 

What advice do you have for those PGA Members looking to pursue a career in golf management? 

Go for it! It’s the greatest thing you can do. There are so many opportunities now for PGA Members looking to start their career in golf and grow into the role of Director of Golf or a General Manager at a golf facility. It’s so interesting, no day is the same because you’re doing something different. What I would say is there are so many opportunities around the world. General Manager jobs in Asia for example, you need to be PGA qualified. It’s one of those qualifications that people are looking at, so there are so many jobs, not just in the UK but overseas too. That’s one area where I think UK PGA Professionals have a head start. I would recommend anyone to go for it and look at the opportunities abroad! 


Our Partners

  • Air IT
  • Banyan Tree
  • The Belfry
  • Coca-Cola
  • EVC
  • FootJoy
  • Gleneagles
  • PING
  • St. James's Place
  • Therabody
  • Titleist