PGA Excel award helps Smitherman land prestigious role

PGA Excel award helps Smitherman land prestigious role


A new PGA designation through the Association’s PGA Excel framework has helped Sam Smitherman land the prestigious head professional role at Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club.

Smitherman joined hundreds of PGA Members in beginning his PGA Excel application last year. The 31-year-old, then based at Walton Health Golf Club, submitted his application and in May he was awarded a new status of PGA Advanced Professional.

“I’ve always been aware of PGA Excel and the relevant designations,” said Smitherman. “It’s a driving force behind my professional growth and personal goals.

“Through speaking with some industry pros who had designations, I knew I could be eligible for a new PGA designation, so I started gathering evidence for my own application. I knew it would only bolster any application for a job further down the line.

“I was extremely pleased when I found out I had been awarded a new designation. It was a testament to the hard work I feel I have put into the game of golf over my career and my dedication to developing my skill set.”

Smitherman was awarded PGA Advanced Professional status whilst in the process of applying for the head professional job at Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club, a role held by Andrew Reynolds for almost five decades.

Having made it through to the interview process, Smitherman knew his PGA Excel award had come through at just the right time to support his application.

He continued: “Obtaining the PGA Advanced Professional designation likely played a crucial role in securing the head professional position at Royal Cinque Ports.

“A new designation through PGA Excel demonstrates your advanced skills, expertise and commitment within the golf industry. Employers often value PGA designations as they signify a high level of proficiency, potentially setting you apart from other candidates.

“The award also showcased my commitment to continuous improvement. Sometimes you can show this through career moves to different jobs. For me, I had been at Walton Heath for eight years, but PGA Excel was a great way of showing to Royal Cinque Ports my commitment to career progression.”

“Employers value PGA Excel PGA designations as they signify a high level of proficiency, potentially setting you apart from other candidates.”


Asked what he would say to other PGA Members considering a PGA Excel application, Smitherman said: I would urge every member to, at the very least, go through the self-assessment process to determine what designation they may be eligible for and then start to gather evidence.

“This will give you the confidence to apply or even better show yourself what you need to progress with to be able to get it in the future.”

As for his continued improvement, Smitherman added: “My new role will push me to gather even more evidence and I hope to be awarded further designations in the future.”

CLICK HERE to start your five-minute self-assessment to review the scoring criteria and assess the level of evidence you are able to provide to support your progression to a new designation.

CLICK HERE to find out how PGA Excel can bolster your career.


James Leah, Secretary & Club Manager at Royal Cinque Ports

What are the main attributes that you were looking for in your Head Professional?
The role of Head Professional, at a club like Royal Cinque Ports, is multi-faceted. We were keen to find a Head Professional who could excel across a range of different responsibilities. We had a requirement for someone with strong people skills – a great communicator, with a reputation for excellent customer service and who can manage people well. Additionally, we were looking for an individual with a passion for retail and merchandising, who has a good understanding of the financial responsibilities that come with running a Pro Shop. Importantly, for a golf role, we wanted someone with a strong coaching and player development track record, who is also a good golfer. Ultimately, the number one attribute we look for, in any role at the club, is whether they are a good person who could complement our strong, close-knit team.

How important was it that Sam was able to demonstrate his standing and qualities through a designation/qualification achieved through the PGA Excel process (i.e. being a PGA Advanced Professional)?
Sam’s journey in golf does not include working at many golf clubs in many different roles, with most of his working life being spent at Walton Heath. However, Sam was able to demonstrate his personal and professional growth by evidencing his continuing professional development – and it was very evident that much of this was done through the PGA. That he had completed so many golf-specific training courses through the PGA provided confidence that he has been educated by industry experts.

The type of individual that we would look to recruit is one who can demonstrate that they are ambitious, keen to develop and looking to progress in their career - the PGA Excel process is an excellent way of someone evidencing this.

- James Leah, Secretary & Club Manager, Royal Cinque Ports

What value did you/the club place on the new designation – what did it signify to you?
We had recently seen the benefit first-hand as our Assistant Secretary, Charles Molony, had been through this process to achieve the PGA Fellow status. We understood that the designation was positive from both the club’s and individual’s point of view, as it evidenced what they had learnt through The PGA and other relevant programmes, and how it impacted their career.

Why is evidence of career progression and professional development important to a club like RCP?
The golf industry is one that is continually evolving, and it’s important the Club and its team are at the forefront of any change. We are keen to support staff in taking part in golf-specific, or club-specific, education. This results in individual growth and has the added benefit of ensuring that the club’s approach is current and up to date. The type of individual that the club would look to recruit is one who can demonstrate that they are ambitious, keen to develop and looking to progress in their career -the PGA Excel process is an excellent way of someone evidencing this.


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