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The PGA 2020: Embarking on an era of change


An internal review over the past 12 months, culminating in a 3-month strategy consultation, has seen the PGA Board back several changes around membership, education and digital investment which will begin rolling out in the autumn. Here Chairman Alan White and Chief Executive Robert Maxfield outline the first of those changes.

As the golf industry continues to present new challenges, The PGA has been reviewing its operations and the Member’s future support needs. Following an intensive 12-week review and strategy consultation with the sports consultancy arm of KPMG, the Association is now embarking on one of the biggest periods of change in its history.

At its heart is the desire to better influence the golf industry. This includes positively impacting those that employ PGA Professionals as well as the consumers that they serve. Therefore, The PGA will raise its profile, reach and ultimately influence all areas of the industry. This modernised Association will be better placed to serve its Members in the 21st century.

The PGA Leadership team – Board and Executive – together with KPMG have developed a clear Business plan to allow continued investment in services for current Members and to further invest in creating a skilled and relevant workforce for the future.

There are 3 immediate areas of change, due to begin rolling out this autumn:

  • To allow Members to use the PGA brand following Membership renewal – reflecting both Members needs and the requirement for greater brand exposure;
  • Allowing members to specialise in areas e.g. coaching and management – something they have fed back as a key requirement;
  • Broadening of the membership categories to create a business management division – to reflect, develop and support the professional
    workforce within the industry.

Alan White, Chairman of the Association, said: “These are significant first steps. They underpin our focus on continuing to influence the industry and its workforce, delivering better services and support for existing Members and recognising that as the industry has changed, so have Members’ needs.

“It is evident from surveys, talking to Members, and the consultation throughout the KPMG review that the role of the PGA Professional now has many facets. The Association must keep pace with that, and we have some catching up to do. Members are no longer just ‘traditional’ club professionals. They have branched into many other sectors of the market, especially business management and we now need to fully recognise that as we move forwards.

“Change is never easy, but for existing Members it will mean increased services, a real focus on specialisation and career progression and a focus on promoting the value of our Members to the golf business. The PGA will be regarded as integral to creating an increasingly relevant and skilled workforce not only in the area of Club Professionals but in facility management roles, and the wider golf industry.

“We have all the structures in place. Membership services, communications, a world recognised training and education department and now is the time for us to leverage that skill and resource to become firstly more relevant to existing Members, and then welcome, support and develop new members from all sectors of the golf industry.”

Broadening the Membership will first see a recategorisation of Members into 3 key areas – PGA Professional, PGA Coach and PGA Business Management. The latter recognises an estimated 28% of Members working outside the traditional Club Professional role and their desire to remain members of the Association whilst better ‘identifying’ themselves as business professionals. Changes and enhanced services will be rolled out over a period of 18 months to better support these professionals working outside of traditional roles.

Once the new services have been developed for the existing membership, including business management and those that wish to specialise in areas such as coaching and retailing, then PGA Membership will be opened to people within the industry within the new categories.

The same high standards of admission currently applied to entry of The PGA will be applied to all new members with educational qualifications
and continued personal development making up a significant part of the criteria.

There will be more consultation in this important area over the coming months including the roll out of a qualitative survey including employers and owners to fully understand the needs and skill requirements of any future PGA Member working in the industry.

Robert Maxfield, Chief Executive, said: “This review has enabled us to focus on a clear strategy and direction for the Association moving forwards. The reasons for change are undeniable if we are to stay relevant both as an Association and for our Members to remain relevant to the industry.

“We have received the unanimous backing of the Board and Executive Committee around these changes and whilst we recognise that it is never easy to introduce such change, we believe The PGA in 2020 needs to represent a very different face to that of The PGA of the last 20 years. We are committed to rolling out these ambitious plans and believe they are in the best interests of the wider membership and the Association.”

With such significant changes it is inevitable there will be some challenges to overcome, but the Senior Team and their staff will be following a robust implementation plan.

Alan White, Chairman, concluded: “Looking back over our 118-year history we have never shied from taking tough decisions and this is no different. Communication will be at the heart of what is a significant step change for the Association. But communication is two way. We hope that Members view the changes positively and look forward to your support in the months and indeed years to come.