PGA Members to benefit from fountain of knowledge with development of Past Captains’ Initiative

PGA Members to benefit from fountain of knowledge with development of Past Captains’ Initiative


Given the experience and expertise that a PGA Professional builds up over the years, a gathering of some of the Association’s most seasoned and respected figures produces the kind of vast accumulation of knowledge you’d find in the British Library.

It was from one such meeting of minds that the Past Captains’ Initiative was forged. Well, eventually. “This all started when I was appointed captain of The PGA in Scotland and David Scott and Jacky Montgomery asked if I’d be interested in helping set up a past captains’ golf society,” explained PGA in Scotland captain Tom Eckford of the initiative’s genesis.

“This was mainly as a social event to get together, play some golf and reminisce about the good old days. That was it. We had a day at Dumbarnie Links with David and we had about 16 there. The more and more we got talking, it became obvious that the guys were still so passionate about the association.

“So, we thought there’s maybe something we can offer? The idea then grew into the Past Captains’ Initiative. We have Allan Martin (coach education manager) here who does terrific work and this initiative is to simply enhance the great resources we already have.”

Eckford’s own journey with The PGA began under the canny stewardship of John Mulgrew, one of the association’s most esteemed and enduring figures who is still passing on his bountiful pearls of wisdom to PGA Members.

“When I turned pro, you were either a player, which I wasn’t, or a club pro, and that was it,” added Eckford, who worked in the Clyde shipbuilding yards before becoming a golf professional at 27 and serving his apprenticeship with Mulgrew.

“Now, there are so many different areas of the industry and our guys have so much experience in various facets of it. The PGA pro has evolved hugely over the years.”

One such presentation at The PGA in Scotland’s recent AGM by Stewart Savage underlined this evolution. Savage, a stalwart figure of the Association, endured a well-documented fight with alcoholism but now puts a tremendous amount of energy into helping others with their general well-being in the workplace.

“There was some mind-blowing stuff in Stewart’s talk,” said 64-year-old Eckford. “I was old school. I didn’t really appreciate the health and well-being side. I’m of a generation that didn’t talk about it. It was ‘get a grip’ and move on. But listening to Stewart certainly opened my eyes to the whole thing.”

Eckford is keen to stress that the Past Captains’ Initiative is very much a team effort; a collaborative mission involving all manner of PGA figures with the common goal of aiding and assisting their colleagues.

“The demands on club pros are so high and perhaps club members sometimes don’t appreciate just how much they do,” added Eckford, who spent over 25 years as the pro at Ranfurly Castle before moving on to a post at Gleddoch House “We are trying to assist in as many ways as we can.

“We are sending out templates to past captains and various PGA Members to get them to make up a biography of themselves. If a PGA pro needs specific advice or is thinking of a change in their career direction, we can look at the templates and say, ‘we’ll put you in touch with so and so who will be best suited to helping you’.

“It’s like a Wikipedia of The PGA. The bricks are in place but the hard work starts now. It’s easy to talk about it but we have to carry it forward.

“The PGA pro tends to be pretty humble and sometimes we don’t go out and tell the world just how good the work of The PGA is. There are some fantastic pros out there and this initiative shows that there is a huge appetite among PGA pros to assist their colleagues.”

David Longmuir, the manager of The PGA in Scotland, expressed his admiration for the development of this valuable resource and urged members to tap into the fountain of knowledge that is at their disposal.

“Tom and the past captains of The PGA in Scotland have really embraced the aim of providing member support from within the organisation,” he said. “The experience and wisdom of this group is without doubt the most comprehensive in the industry, and being able to access such a wealth of knowledge is an opportunity not to be missed by members of all ages and categories.

“The momentum is already building and we have had offers of support from other members who may not have been a captain but have significant expertise which they are willing to share with their colleagues.

“The team in Scotland is delighted to support this initiative and if any member would like to speak to one of the group then we can easily make the appropriate connections. More information will be provided as the year unfolds but, in the meantime, please feel free to contact any of the team if you would like to find out more.”


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