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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

New year, new start....

Hi all, thought I would write this blog to explain the reasoning behind some pretty important decisions I've made recently. Several kind people have expressed concern/interest in these decisions so I thought I'd lay it down here.
Before I go any further, a disclaimer, this post is not intended in any way to put people off the PGA, professional golf or anything daft like that. I have grown to learn that social media can be a very dangerous tool so I can't say this strongly enough. This is purely my own experience and i'm fortunate enough to know many friends and colleagues who work in golf and absolutely love it.

Essentially, after probably more than 2 years worth of deliberating, I have resigned from professional golf altogether. In the last 7 days I have tendered my PGA resignation, applied for reinstatement of amateur status, joined a new golf course and also begun booking myself on university open days.

If I’m dealing with facts here, let’s start with the question ”Why did you turn professional”? My reason is simple, singular, honest and truthful. I want to play golf for a living. I took up golf because I loved to play and it became my dream to persue it as my career. At that point I definitely hadn't thought about working in a golf shop for 40+ hours a week for minimum wage and the prospect of doing the PGA Programme, I just knew that I wanted to play golf for a living and so this is what I would have to do.
With the exception of Mid Sussex Golf Club (a wonderful job with a great crowd of members and great colleagues I am still friends with now), the experiences of redundancy and a couple of other clubs I worked at definitely got me to thinking whether I was definitely in the right industry.
Also, the way I have played since I turned professional as well as the effect that the whole experience of playing professional golf  has had on me, has made me realise I am simply not currently good enough. I’m not ashamed to admit that and I have worked my hardest to try and make a go of it, to my detriment. The amount of pressure I have been putting on myself recently has gotten totally out of proportion. I’m not proud of that at all but I am learning from it. Hopefully now I can begin to rediscover the way I know I can play and who knows what the future may hold? I am every bit as dedicated to golf as I have ever been from this point of view and have very strong aspirations for my amateur career! Watch this space...

For a long time I thought that if the playing side of things didn't work out, I could make a career from teaching. Following my redundancy, I persued a 'decent' teaching job for nearly 2 years. Sadly, all I learned is that I am in a much more viable financial position working on a 26 hours a week in my dispensing job right now than to go back to working full time in the golf industry. And, in all honesty, I simply don't have the passion to do this that is required.
To illustrate this, I had an interview last year (I won’t specify who/where etc for obvious reasons) and here were the terms of the job:
- I must be on site 5-6 days a week (as opposed to my current 4).
- I am on no basic salary (I am currently on a salary that justifies my needs).
- I must give 30% + VAT on all my teaching revenues (lesson prices which I am unable to determine myself).
- I must generate £1000 in shop revenue monthly otherwise I get fined 10% of the deficit.
- I must pay £40 a month for external ‘training’ and I do not get to choose who I have the training from.
- I must wear clothing that represents the academy BUT I have to pay for this myself.

So, there it is. These are some of the events that have led me to where I am now. Among other highlights were an additional job in which I must work unpaid for 20 hours per week.When I eventually begun teaching at Cobtree Manor, I knew this would be the last roll of the dice for me in golf professionally and I got so tied up in knots that just knowing that I didn't want to be doing this anymore was beginning to make me ill. This was particularly the case with teaching juniors, it made me very anxious indeed worrying about whether someone would get hurt and I hated seeing pushy parents putting unbelievable pressure on their children to perform - I saw this a lot and could never come to terms with it.

So now, enough is enough and I am moving on.

Doing the Plane Truth Level 1 certification last year was by far the highlight of my golfing career. I am so excited to be a part of this and fully intend to continue as such in the programme. I love engaging on the forums and helping people that way, not to mention the wonders it has done for my own golf. I am very proud to be one of only about 10 certified plane truth instructors in Europe!

So there you have it folks, my reality within the PGA and Professional Golf. Please don’t get me wrong, as I said this is not a rant at the PGA and certainly not an attempt to disuade people from persuing professional golf. There are people out there that are interested in retail, course design, psychology, technology etc who are having wonderful careers doing what they wanted to do.
But, in my case, all I ever really wanted to do was play the game and if I can’t do this then I now feel that it would be right to return to the ranks of amateur golf where I feel competitive and where I can just enjoy the game as I always did before.
In the meantime, my intention is to go back to University and persue a career working in computers. The thought of starting over and learning new things is extremely exciting and I cannot wait for what the future holds. From a golf point of view, with best will in the world I must say how nice it will be to be able to just ‘play’ and get the title/stereotype of ‘pro’ off my back.
There it is, thank you for your support......

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