Samsonov adds PGA Top-Up degree to his already impressive CV

Samsonov adds PGA Top-Up degree to his already impressive CV


PGA Fellow Manager Anton Samsonov started playing golf aged just seven, with his first 18-hole round played at Moscow Country Club in Russia. Thirty years later he became first and only Russian to graduate from the PGA’s degree course in 2015. He continued his education to become PGA Director of Golf in 2019, and gained PGA Fellow Manager status last November, before graduating with a Top-Up degree in 2023 with the University of Birmingham.

He has experience of working in private golf club operations throughout Russia, and recently spent four years, from 2016-2020, as the golf operations manager at Dreamland Golf Club in Baku, an IMG-managed property in Azerbaijan.

Anton returned home to Russia in 2020 to work on the launch of a new golf course business, Kaleidoscope Golf, which is a patented method of designing golf courses in a way that enables them to be played with multiple start and end points to make them more cost-effective to maintain and more sustainable. He also recently set up his own management company, Samsonov Golf, which undertakes consultancy work on golf club development and operations, as well as organising corporate golf events.

Here Anton discusses why he chose to do the Top-Up degree and how he hopes it will benefit his current and future career.

What made you pursue The PGA’s ‘Top-Up degree’?

After I gained my PGA foundation qualification in 2015, I knew that this was just the beginning of my golf education and that I needed to carry on gaining new skills and more qualifications in order to become one of the most qualified golf professionals in my home country, Russia. During my time with IMG Golf, I heard that some clubs had stopped hiring PGA Professionals who didn’t have a degree, so I knew I had to start it. It was a shame that the option to do the Top-Up degree only came along in 2021, as it made it that bit harder at my age to get back into the education process, especially after Covid and all issues we faced during those difficult times.

How did you apply for the Top-Up course and how did you find the application process?

I keep a close eye on all the educational programmes offered by The PGA and before the Top-Up degree I also did a PGA Director of Golf diploma. So as soon The PGA launched the Top-Up option I got a note from Simon Hubbard, The PGA’s Head of Training, letting me know that it was being offered. I didn’t wait long to apply. The process was very fast and efficient in getting out the forms to The PGA and the University of Birmingham, together with personal recommendations from my mentors.

What did you make to the course? Are there any elements that you would like to change?

The beginning of the course was a bit hard for PGA Professionals like me who had had a pause in their education as it required dedication and quite a few hours to keep up with the weekly reading. Maybe knowing a bit more in advance about how much time you need to put in during that first term could help you help to get back into studying, as it was harder than I thought. After a few months it became less intensive and I was able to structure the work around my own timetable.

Did you enjoy distance learning?

I believe it is a new reality which we all faced in 2020-2021, so it was convenient and allowed me to study in my free time before or after work. Of course, on-campus learning is always better, as you do get better feel for the information, but distance learning helps a lot as most PGA Professionals are busy at their golf clubs.

The Top-Up degree is a must for PGA Professionals planning to work abroad. It makes visa processing easier and allows The PGA to stand out with new quality standards which it is known for.

- Anton Samsonov - PGA Professional

Which parts of the course did you find most valuable?

The lectures with professors who passed their knowledge during online lectures were much more interesting than reading a lot of materials for future assignments, but the best part was the dissertation assignment, where we had a chance to showcase your knowledge about a specific subject that we had picked ourselves.

How did you find balancing part-time learning alongside your full-time job?

It was hard for me personally, especially during the first 4-5 months when there were a lot of materials to read and lectures to attend. Even though golf club owners understand that by becoming more qualified there are benefits for golf clubs, still there are plenty of work to do in this respect. I did struggle and had to review my time-management to get all organised.

How will having this full degree benefit your current job and your future career prospects?

The Top-Up degree is a must for PGA Professionals planning to work abroad. It makes visa processing easier and allows The PGA to stand out with new quality standards which it is known for. I’m very proud of being the one and only PGA Professional in Russia with this qualification, and I am sure it is going to help to promote my services and build my personal brand.

What would you say to other PGA Members who might be thinking about topping-up their foundation degree to a full degree?

It is two years of extra work, but it will help to improve your knowledge and to stand out from others in what is a very competitive jobs market. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other PGA Members, especially if they are thinking of working internationally or are already based outside of the UK.

The PGA launched the Top-Up degree for those Members who came through the Association’s Foundation Degree course to top-up their qualification to a full degree.

The course, delivered 50-50 between The PGA and the University of Birmingham, will be studied over two years which (like the Foundation Degree) means it will be part-time, allowing PGA Members to continue their day-to-day occupations. Delivery of the programme will be fully online with a blend of online sessions and distance learning.

The deadline to apply for the next Top-Up course intake is 31st August, 2023.

CLICK HERE to find out more and to apply.


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