My Big Break: James Johnson (head professional – Wyke Green Golf Club)

My Big Break: James Johnson (head professional – Wyke Green Golf Club)


When James Johnson took on the PGA head professional’s role at Wyke Green in September it was another box ticked for the upwardly mobile 28-year-old. In a relatively short timeframe, the graduate of the PGA Foundation Degree in Professional Golf Studies has made rapid career progress, working at Broadwater Park Golf, Bramley Golf and more recently at Effingham Golf Club.

And while Johnson’s outlook has generally been ‘What’s next?’, his focus is now very much on laying down solid foundations at Wyke Green where he is keen to make his mark.

What made you pursue a career in golf and with The PGA?

"For some reason I always wanted to be a primary school teacher – and I played golf as a junior. I got to +3 and thought, if I did this job I can play and teach at the same time. So it was a good combination of the two and the PGA degree course just made sense. It’s the foundation to get yourself on that ladder when you work at a golf club. It covers all bases from coaching to business, giving you the complete foundation. I found the course really beneficial."

What parts of the PGA training programme best equipped you for a career in the golf industry?

"Mainly the coaching. I remember the person who did it spoke a lot about how you communicate. It’s not necessarily knowing every part of the golf swing – which is obviously good to know – but it’s how you portray it, how I explain something to somebody.  You can say the same bit of information to several people, but every person would need to be explained to in a different way. Communication to people is everything. Everyone is completely different. Coaching is also your chance to build a relationship with that member or client. If you build a positive relationship with the coaching, it then encourages them to come to you regarding equipment etc – it’s just a snowball effect."

Did you refine your coaching skills at Effingham?

"Yeah, it could only have helped for sure. It definitely built my confidence in my ability as a coach. Being a good coach at one club is one thing but then becoming a successful coach at another, for me that’s sort of ‘Oh right, okay – it wasn’t just a one-off’. I’ve always been quite lucky to attract a few clients everywhere I’ve been. But at Effingham I had a client base of over 230 people, which I built up over my time there. It’s all word of mouth. You teach someone and they then tell somebody else."

What makes for a good coach in your opinion?

"Keep it as simple as possible, whether you’ve got a professional or a complete beginner in front of you. Maybe try and focus on one thing at a time. I always do this thing at the end where I summarise every lesson I give in a sentence. And if I can’t, I’ve not done my job properly."

Were there the other skills and experience you acquired in your role at Effingham that have helped prepared you for your new position?

"It’s a very busy club – the operation is very big, so you were very much thrown in the deep end. There’s a lot of footfall and the pro shop is the first entry point to the clubhouse. So you’ve got that constant interaction. You’re the first point for everything; whether it’s a tee-time, a competition, membership. Being at the tip of the sword as I used to joke with the other assistant. It was hard work but good. If I wasn’t at Effingham I wouldn’t have been ready for now – no way. But as good as Effingham was, I’ve always been ‘What next?’ That’s just my personality whether it’s career or life. That’s why I did my PGA ‘Director of Golf’ course and I’m putting together my application for ‘Advanced PGA Professional’.  I’m not one just to sit and wait. I’ve always put myself out there, whether I get a good or bad response."

Tell us about your experience of the PGA’s ‘Director of Golf’ course…

"I started that during Covid. You’ve got to invest in yourself, right? It can only help. Now that I’ve got my ‘head pro’ status I can finally do my third and final stage of the course. I’ve done everything that I could do as a senior assistant and now I’m eligible to do that final stage. Obviously you learn a lot and again it looks good on the CV as well."

What made you apply for the head professional’s role at Wyke Green?

"It’s progression, isn’t it. I actually knew one of the old head pros there and I spoke to him about the role. I like the fit of the club and think I fitted what they were looking for and luckily got the role."

What made you stand out from the other candidates?

"I’m 28, but am quite experienced for a 28-year-old. So I think it was I’ve got a good combination of youth and experience. They wanted someone that was pro-active and wasn’t just going to sit on the chair and wait for things to happen."

Have you a top-line piece advice to give to others aspiring to become a PGA head professional?

"Don’t be afraid of feedback. Whether it’s positive or negative, I think feedback is brilliant. How else are you supposed to know how you’re doing?"


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