Matthew Rea is a senior golf coach at the Leadbetter Golf Academy at Oxford Golf Resort in India. The 40-year-old, originally from the West Midlands, qualified as a PGA Professional in 2011 after completing his training at Stourbridge Golf Club, but his passion for golf coaching and tasting different cultures took his career overseas.
What attracted you to work abroad?
I’ve always been curious and wanted to experience different cultures, build cultural awareness and improve my communication and language skills. I first moved abroad shortly after graduating in 2011 and relocated to work at The David Leadbetter Golf Academy at Reiters Golf and Country Club in Bad Tatzmannsdorf, Austria. I approached Paul Dyer (who runs The David Leadbetter Academies in Germany), after attending his talk at the PGA Harrogate Golf Trade Show. Paul arranged an informal interview to meet Andrew Nicholson (European Head of Coaching for David Leadbetter) at his home Academy at Wynyard. Andrew confirmed my joining Leadbetter and outlined my role. To date, I have worked with Leadbetter in Austria, IMG Florida, Vietnam and now India, where I have been based since the beginning of September 2019.
What is it like teaching golf in a country like India?
It’s probably just as important to state that I have moved from one particular golfing environment (an urban Academy in Hanoi, Vietnam) to a self-contained 18-hole golf resort a few miles outside of Pune, India. The location of the Oxford Golf Resort in Pune is ideal for attracting golfers from Pune and Mumbai, which is a couple of hours drive on a high-speed expressway, and beyond as we get visitors from all over India and abroad. On arrival in India my accommodation was provided by my employer. Food and transport are also taken care of so it has been an easier transition than Vietnam which required more formalities and settling in.
My main duties are coaching and delivering premium golf lessons to members, and conducting lessons (‘express schools’) to international guests staying at the resort. I am also responsible for the training and mentoring of local David Leadbetter (trainees) within the resort.
What have been the challenges to settling into your role in India and how have you overcome these challenges?
I worked a six-day week in Hanoi, Vietnam so it hasn’t required an adjustment when moving to India which also operates a six-day working week. I am measured on financial performance (lesson revenue) which was part of the expectation in Vietnam without being a formal requirement.
What does a typical working day for you involve?
The David Leadbetter brand has been established in India since 2017, and has attracted approximately 18 male and seven female Indian touring golf professionals, as well as 25 elite junior players.
On a typical day I arrive at the Academy and prepare the lesson tee and indoor lesson studios for visiting students. I have a daily briefing with the Academy Director, Laurence Brotheridge, about the day’s lesson scheduling and important hospitality events being held at the resort. I oversee trainee David Leadbetter golf coaches, ensure the range staff are organised with golf balls, hire-clubs, make sure the range areas are presented clean and tidy, and make sure Masala Chai is served for Academy staff twice a day at 11am and 4pm, which is a welcome ritual! Currently, I work with many international clients who travel specifically to visit The David Leadbetter Academy and stay on-site at the resort, varying from UK, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Japan, Korea, and local Asian Touring Professionals from all across India competing on PGTI, Asian Tour and European Tour.
If someone is thinking about moving to India in the near future, what should they consider?
First stage is to register and complete an online ‘E-Visa’ application through Government of India, followed by an in person appointment at a local Consular Centre.
On approval of the application, which can take three to four days, collection of Passport and Visa documentation can be made in person (London, Birmingham or Edinburgh) or sent by post. This allows me to work in India for up to two years, at which point I can renew whilst working in the country. The cost for an Employment Visa is around £450. The process is simple, however, before submitting your application ensure the employer has provided you with an Employment Contract Letter and a copy of their Certificate of Incorporation.
What advice would you give to other PGA Professionals interested in working overseas/in India?
A move overseas is rarely a mistake and over the course of a career in golf it demonstrates that you are willing to experience a different way of life and be flexible. Working internationally is going to be a feature of the future of golf, particularly golf coaching. Culturally, India represents a lifestyle that can feel both familiar and also entirely different from the UK. An open mind and a willingness to embrace those less familiar aspects is the best advice I can give.