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GolfWRX members debate the merits of a career in the golf industry

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Would you work in the golf industry? Perhaps you have? From caddying in high school to serving as a respected head pro at an esteemed club, to working as an equipment or apparel rep, the jobs in the service side of the golf business are numerous, and there are options wherever you’re at in life. If you add to the equation all jobs at golf-related companies and golf-relates manufacturing, the range of opportunities is even greater.

But this is no glossy brochure for “A Career in Golf!” Fears over industry contraction, the future of the game, the paltry salaries of assistant professionals, and other factors combine to cast a long shadow over employment related to this maddening game.

Still, the majority of hardcore golf nuts have likely considered working in golf at some point.  GolfWRX member JJHarrs2 is one such individual. He started a thread looking for advice about whether he, at 29, should explore a career in golf. He’s primarily interested in becoming a playing pro (who isn’t?), club pro, teaching pro, or working as an equipment rep.

He expresses not only uncertainty about taking the plunge, but concern for the future of the industry.

“The main thing I’m wondering is when I look out 20-30 years from now, I really don’t see golf being in a good place. I know that a ton of the money spent on golf is by people over 60, so when they die or get too old to play, what will take their place? Will people my age pick up the slack?”

Now, before we get to the responses from GolfWRX members, I’d like to offer a bit of perspective for Mr. JJHarrs2, as someone who worked at both public and private courses before transitioning to typing for a living. Regarding the future of the game, you can look at club closures in the past decade and get depressed, or you can look at the number of new golfers year-over-year and be encouraged, which is to say, basing your decision on macro data is always going to be difficult and is, in some sense, a distraction from the real question: do you want to do this/these jobs?

Having seen the lot of the equipment reps who pulled their wares from the back of packed trucks and vans to present to pros for perusal, and having seen the contraction in that job space, I would advise anyone who is drawn to the road warrior life of an equipment rep to be comfortable with the prospect of eventually working another traveling sales job. To be a successful rep, you have to love the job/lifestyle, not just golf.

Also: Read Ryan Barath’s “Confessions of Golf Equipment Tech Rep” for some perspective.

Regarding the club pro/teaching pro path. It’s important to mention that head pro jobs are few and far between and the life of the career assistant with little teaching income is a dreary one: think “folding shirts and answering phones for $30K per year.” Head pro jobs are rare, competitive, and often political; it’s best to instead think of yourself as a small business owner…not of the pro shop, but rather, of yourself. It’s vitally important to work at a club that will cover the cost of the PGM Program and (at least some of) the additional certifications you must pursue to gain a competitive advantage.

Don’t love teaching? You better start to! Not only is a steady stream of pupils vital to your pocketbook, but creating instructional content online is essential to building your student base and potentially setting yourself up for other revenue streams in the future. Twitter! Instagram! Facebook! YouTube! GolfWRX! You’ll want start the virtuous cycle of expanding your knowledge and showcasing that expansion early. For example: attend an AimPoint seminar, talk about it on social media, make a video explaining the fundamentals, or some such.

I also recommend reading Michael Breed’s “Advice to PGA Professionals.” 

Have you ever worked in customer service? Have you ever heard the expression “the customer is always right?” Well, if you work at a private club, get used to the expression “it’s literally impossible the member is wrong in any way.” Never forget they’re paying your bills, as difficult as this may be when you’re being asked to walk half a mile to the 10th hole to pick up two pullcarts a pair of golfers left out or wondering who the hell has the last cart out of the barn, darkness having long ago descended.

You’ve got to be a self-starter, in it for the long hall, and comfortable playing relatively little golf, honestly. If you’re not tied to one geographical location, all the better (heading to Florida to caddie for the winter should be considered). Maybe you’ll wind up as a head pro somewhere, but you have to hedge against the possibility that you won’t, constantly investing in yourself, expanding your knowledge base, and creating content. It’s definitely beneficial to get Class A PGA certification ASAP and to be involved with your PGA Section.

I’ll draw the curtain on my advice and point to a couple of the more interesting responses from the forums.

golfandfishing says working for a top teaching pro is the way to go

“Here’s the best thing to do if you can play at all:  work for a teaching pro. ..Teach, hold clinics, pick the range, etc for your 50/60 hours a week and collect your $550 paycheck. Then play section events as often as you can. Monday Pro Ams, the State Open, your section championship, various events with mostly other club pros. Collect another $2k a month…Club pro? Hope you enjoy divorce.,,Manufacturers rep? Any of the handful of worthwhile positions are taken and then already in wait when the spot comes up. You’ll be repping plastic tees, ball washer towels and cigar holders. Do not be the teaching pro with his name on the door – work for that guy. Enjoy the lack of responsibility, collect meager pay and exploit the privileges.”

tatertot is a bearer of difficult truths

“Realistically …

– You’ve got .01 chance of being a touring pro at 29.

– Ask yourself “Why would someone come to me for lessons?” If you can think of a good reason, you might have a shot as a teaching pro.

– Ask yourself “Why would any club hire me to be a pro?” Lots of applicants from lots of guys who have gone to school for this sort of thing.
– Do you have a business/marketing degree? Because there are lots of guys applying for sales reps jobs that do.”
jmck strikes a similar dour note

“Hate to say it, but listen to the pessimists.

There are pretty much zero jobs in the golf industry that combine the following:

– Play a lot
– Work less than a 60 hour week
– Make more than $50k per year
– Keep your significant other happy

Frankly it’s a minor miracle if you can find a job in the golf industry that combines two of those, and if you need to even think about practicing to pass your PAT there’s zero chance you’re good enough to play on even a crappy regional mini tour…If you really love the game you’re better off as a banker, lawyer, real estate agent, drywaller, ditch digger, or beer truck driver.  It’s a brutal industry, has been for decades, and is only going to get worse.”

You’ll want to read the rest of the responses in the thread

What do you think, GolfWRX members? What advice would you give to

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9 Comments

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  1. joro

    Apr 25, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    After having been in the business for over 50yrs as a Wood Maker, and designer, yes real wood, A player, a teacher, a Shop Pro and repairman and fitter, if you want to be a player, get a night job and play a lot of Gof and tournaments. If you want to be in the business, go to work at a Golf Course or a Club Manufacturer. And good luck.

  2. Carolina Golfer 2

    Apr 24, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I realize I am the rare exception, but I meet all 4 items at the end of this piece, and I love my job. I literally can’t wait for the weekend to be over, so I can come to work on Monday.

    It took me my whole career and a little bit of luck on the timing, but I had been working toward this position or a very similar one for 15 years, and am so thankful it finally came to fruition.

    • dan webb

      Apr 25, 2018 at 10:29 am

      I too feel like I have the ultimate job in golf!! I play almost as much as I want and spend the rest of the time talking golf. There is a place for you, I’d be happy to discuss it with anyone interested.

  3. Tee-Bone

    Apr 23, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    My whole life, I’ve heard people give the following career advise; “Do what you love.” I have realized, over time, that far better advise is; “Do what you’re good at.”

  4. freowho

    Apr 23, 2018 at 7:31 am

    You can’t just enjoy golf you have to be able to sell it and sell yourself. There are plenty of bad coaches making a heap of money because they are charming, carry on like they are changing peoples lives and gather disciples. And there are retailers making a lot of money because they can convince people that an umbrella holder is the best thing since sliced bread.

    • ogo

      Apr 23, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Clowns cannot make a commitment to the game of golf because all they want is “fun” socializing with their equally decrepit golffing buddies. Clowns outnumber aspiring golfer by 99:1 …. so obvious.

  5. Chris Downing

    Apr 23, 2018 at 5:43 am

    I don’t think its so much about golf dieing – that’s bit dramatic – when actually is just resizing after being over-promoted for all sorts of money reasons. Generally I see jobs as being on a line between money and fun. So money is being a lawyer, accountant, CEO – fun is actor, dancer, musician. Because golf is seen as fun and loads of people want to do it the pay sinks to almost the minimum you can survive on. Read Cal Newport’s book – “So Good they Can’t Ignore You”. Society doesn’t really need golf to function as a society – its a bit of a luxury (like music and acting) so the pay is never going to be good. My suggestion , like Cal Newport, is to find something you are good at that society want to pay you well for and do that. ‘Following your dream’ can be mighty expensive – who cares what you want except you – so who’s going to pay you?

    • ogo

      Apr 23, 2018 at 10:59 am

      “fun” is for fools and clowns both of which are riding around on their buggies on golf courses looking for their balls going astray. Anybody who tells me golf is for “fun” is just spreading hopeless propaganda to save the game and their golffing carers. Sorry boys, the “resizing” is a funeral and that’s a blessing.

  6. ogo

    Apr 22, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    Golf is dying along with the aging Baby Boomers. Even the OEMs have come to that conclusion and only catering to the filthy rich with their overpriced, overglitzed, overuseles fantastic new super game improvement clubs filled with feeeeel. The game is being dredged for the last dollar from the rich and gearheads. Sooo obvious… 😮

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19th Hole

Adam “Pacman” Jones talks handicap, lowest score, shows off new clubs

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The trick-shot artist, golfing dynamo, and general internet phenomenon that is Matty sat down for a quick nine questions with veteran NFL cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, who plays to a 14 handicap.

Check out their conversation below.

Matty also took a peek at the fresh set of clubs in Jones’ bag. It looks like Matty, who is affiliated with Bridgestone Golf, has made sure the veteran cornerback has the company’s latest wares, including custom Tour B X-CB irons and custom KBS Tour shafts.

Hopefully, Matty will follow up with an Adam Jones WOTW (What’s on the Wrist). Holy Rolly, Pacman!

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Tweets of the Week: Best golf posts from Twitter over the last week

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Louis Oosthuizen cried tears of joy after winning the South African Open, while Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman triumphed at the QBE shootout. But those weren’t the only talking points over the last week in the golfing world. Here’s a look at some things you may have missed, and some of the quirkier moments from the world of golf dished out in the Twittersphere.

Uncanny Bubba Impression

He’s nailed impressions of Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley in the past, and now Jack Bartlett turned his talents to the mercurial Bubba Watson. The result is both hysterical and scarily impressive.

“Mud Ball!!”

Because the original “mud ball” moment is just as hilarious.

The Turf Chopper

A look into the future of golf on the fairways?

DeChambeau’s New Bag

Bryson showed off his slick new golf bag while in action last week. What do we think GolfWRXers?

Please Replace Divots

A squirrel at the QBE Shootout this week showing more etiquette on the course than some golfers do.

Open Championship Mania

An 11-year old’s mother showed just how much her boy enjoyed his experience at this year’s Open Championship…

…leading to The R&A and Open Championship combining to provide the kid with an experience that he will never forget.

 

 

 

 

 

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Exploring Ireland: Where to golf, drink and stay on the Emerald Isle. Pt. 2. Old Tom Morris Links, Donegal

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In these series of articles, I will be taking you around the Emerald Isle providing you with great golf courses to visit in some of the loveliest spots in Ireland. I’ll also be highlighting the best and most authentic Irish bars in these spots, as well as places to stay, eat and how to get there. Whether you’re taking a golfing holiday to Ireland in 2019 or are interested in doing so sometime in the future, I’ll make sure to let you in on the best places to spend your time.

In Part One of our Exploring Ireland series, we focused on County Wicklow and showcased Woodbrook Golf Club. Now it’s time for Part Two, and we’re taking a trip to the far northwest corner of the island, and into County Donegal.

While it may not be the most accessible destination, Donegal is an absolute must for anyone traveling to Ireland. Voted number one on The National Geographic Traveler’s ‘cool list’ for 2017, Donegal is like no place you’ve ever seen. Full of breathtaking beaches, incredible walking trails, cosy pubs and of course, excellent golf courses, you’re guaranteed to have a great time here.

Old Tom Morris Links, Donegal

@Rosapenna1893

My pick for the top golf course to visit in the county is the Old Tom Morris Links, situated within the Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort.

In 1891, while a guest of Lord Leitrim, Old Tom Morris of St. Andrews decided to visit Donegal, and in typical Tom Morris fashion, he believed that it was the ideal location to build a championship course. What Morris created was a course with wide rolling fairways and magnificent greens that have stood the test of time.

@Rosapenna1893

The course was renovated twice before a new Strand Nine opened in 2009 which now plays as the front nine of the Old Tom Morris Links. The addition gives the course a wonderful mix of a traditional and modern links feel.

The challenging course plays over 6,900 yards from the back tees, and only offers up the relief of three par-fives. The challenge can also become even more daunting should the wind blow, and being situated along “The Wild Atlantic Way,” you should expect nothing less.

@EIGTravel

While you will no doubt enjoy the stern test and the natural feel of the golf course, visitors will have even more to look forward to should they take the trip here. The course runs along Tramore beach overlooking Sheephaven Bay and offers up sensational views no matter what hole you are on during your round.

The rates to play 18 holes at the Old Tom Morris Links begin at $40 in winter, and $60 during the summer months.

Food & Drink – The Olde Glen Bar, Carrigart

@oldeglenbar

A 10-minute drive from the course will take you to The Olde Glen Bar a few minutes from Carrigart, which Ulster’s very own Hollywood star and golf fan Jamie Dornan (The Fall, 50 Shades of Grey) called the “best bar in the world.”

The bar first opened in 1768, making it one of the oldest bars in Donegal. The Olde Glen Bar has kept its very traditional feel, and when you get there, you will feel like you’ve been transported back in time. Wooden floors, big open-lit fires, low ceilings and door frames add to the charm of this little bar where there is always something going on.

@oldeglenbar

There is live traditional music playing in the bar every weekend, and along with the music, The Olde Glen Bar boasts an excellent craft beer, whiskey and gin selection. The bar prides itself on its Kinnegar beer, brewed just up the road, and it’s well worth a try if Guinness isn’t your thing.

The bar also features a highly acclaimed restaurant, offering up dishes such as seatrout, venison, supreme of chicken and plenty of other delights.

@oldeglenbar

Where To Stay

The obvious choice is the Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort itself. This luxury establishment will cater to all your needs and is the ideal place to stay when in the area if you have the money to splash out. A classic double room will set you back around $200 a night, or you can go for the stay and play option which provides you with two nights bed, and breakfast along with a round of golf at both the Old Tom Morris and the Sandy Hills Links for around $300 per person.

If you’re looking for somewhere less expensive or more traditional, then there are plenty of cottages in the area that will add even more character to your adventure. Here’s what you can expect should you wish to stay in an Irish cottage in the area, and it will give you a feel for true Irish life out on the Atlantic Ocean.

@ShivonSoap

Donegal has lots to offer should you manage to pull yourself away from the course or the bar. Fishing, walking trails, surfing and scuba diving are all favorite activities to do while visiting Donegal. One must visit, however, is Glenveagh National Park, which is a nature reserve with beautiful scenery of mountains, lakes and woodlands. The highlight of the park though has to be Glenveagh Castle, built in 1870.

How To Get There

The lack of quality public transport in the area makes it a little trickier than other spots to get to, but if you’re driving, then there’s no issue at all. The Old Tom Morris Links is a 3 hrs 30mins drive from Dublin City Centre, 4hrs 10mins from Galway City Centre, and 1hr 15mins from Derry City Centre. If you happen to be flying into Donegal Airport, then it will take you around an hour to get to the area.

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