The article below was written by Steve Carroll of National Club Golfer.
I’ve seen the social media pictures of greenkeepers with huge welts on their head. I’ve admonished a playing partner who sent a shot skyward while staff were working in a greenside bunker. I’ve seen the appeals from BIGGA chiefs urging golfers to show their members a little bit of care and respect.
I’ve also heard players muttering that greenkeepers should ‘get out of the way’. I’ve heard the grumbles that ‘we pay their wages’, and I’ve watched players pacing around in frustration because someone on a mower is on a green working hard to make their surfaces better.
If, by some miracle, you’re still wondering where I stand on the ‘who gets priority on the course?’ debate, let me be clear. Greenkeepers do. Always. Every time.
It’s interesting this is still a debate – particularly in this health and safety conscious, ambulance chasing lawyer, era in which we live.
But ask enough greenkeepers, or look at enough golf club weekly newsletters, and there will still be the periodic appeal for players to and try and avoid taking out staff with a polyurethane projectile with the propensity to cause massive life-changing injury.
It’s outrageous. It’s irresponsible. It’s dangerous. If you do it, then sod your subs. Your club should empty your locker and kick you to the kerb.
What about pace of play? Blah blah blah. Just wait a minute, it’s not difficult. Your greenkeeper will do everything they can to make your stay as short as possible.
I’ve got to a ball, to see staff mowing a green, and I’ve sat down quite content for the long haul. But greenkeepers understand golfers want to play, they understand if there’s plenty of people on the course, and they’ll try and get you through as soon as they can.
I can’t think of any other profession where people would think it was OK to put others at risk in such a cavalier fashion – to hit hard, fast moving, objects in their direction and basically dare them to duck.
If we’re not careful, someone’s going to get killed and we’re all going to pay the consequences. Or should we send out our hard-working greenkeepers in hard hats and hi-vis? For the sake of everyone, have a bit of patience. Put down your club and wait.
The loft and lie angle of your golf
club has a major influence on how you launch the ball.
Every club is different in its loft and the way that they sit on the ground, so it’s essential that you get this right to suit your height and swing path, and to make sure that you’re giving yourself the best chance of finding the middle of the clubface, whatever the club is.
Loft and lie: drivers
Your driver will generally have around 10˚ of loft, but obviously, this can vary enormously, and players will tweak their drivers to try and optimise their distance. For example, Bryson DeChambeau has used a driver with as low a loft as 5.5˚.
Loft and lie: irons
With your irons, there will be
around three or four degrees difference between each club, so each one will
carry a different distance. Then, it’s a case of matching your woods and wedges,
so you have even gaps to ensure you’ve got a club capable of hitting any
distance you need.
What’s worth noting is that manufacturers will have different lofts on each club to suit the characteristics of said club. For example, a Ping G430 7-iron has a loft of 29˚, as this is a game-improvement iron designed to launch the ball high. On the other hand, Ping i230 irons, aimed at stronger players who don’t need as much help in getting the ball airborne, have a loft of 33˚ (on its 7-iron).
Generally speaking, the stronger the loft, the more swing speed (ball speed) is needed to launch the ball in the air.
Loft and lie: wedges and putters
Depending on what loft your pitching
wedge is, you’ll then be looking to find the right number of wedges in those
even gaps to make sure that you can cover any distance. Most wedges finish at
around 58-60˚, but it is possible to play around with the lofts to really dial
in your distances.
The putter has the least loft, but this is still a crucial factor in finding the middle of the face. The standard amount of loft on your putter is around 3-4˚, but again, it’s not a case of one-size-fits-all, and it’s all about how you deliver the club at impact.
Too much loft and the ball will get airborne, while too little loft and the ball will be hit into the turf. Both will have a big impact on your pace and distance control.
The model of your putter also matters. The Ping Anser has 3˚ of loft, which ties in with most Ping putters, but their Armlock putter, which is built with a longer shaft and grip, has a 6˚ standard loft.
If you play on quick greens, you
might want to consider less loft as the ball will be rolling well, while for
slow greens, you might want more loft. The best solution is to have a putter
fitting—the results might surprise you.
The lie angle is the angle created
between the shaft and the ground. This is crucial because if the lie angle is
too flat, then the toe of the club will come into contact with the ground first.
Conversely, if the lie angle is too upright, then the heel will dig in. Either
way, the clubface will not be online, and you’ll see some crooked shots.
This is worth checking with a PGA professional or an experienced fitter, as you might be swinging the club perfectly, but if the club isn’t sitting correctly, your shots will be missing their target.
The centre of the sole of the
clubhead should be touching the turf, and the grooves will be parallel to the
ground. If the lie angle is too flat, the toe will hit the ground, which will
open the clubface, and you’ll see the ball go right of the target. Likewise, if
the lie angle is too upright, the heel will dig in, the clubface will close, and
the ball will go left.
As a general rule of thumb, shorter
golfers will often benefit from a flatter lie, while taller golfers might
require more upright clubs. A good player might be able to manipulate what is
happening with the lie angle, but the easiest way to make progress is to check
your lies with a pro.
You’ll hear about lie angles with your irons and wedges, but they can also be important with your driver and fairways/hybrids, and there’s the option on adjustable clubs to play around with the lie angle.
Similarly, your putter’s lie angle
is certainly something to get right. While we might know what the loft is on
our driver, the chances are you won’t on your putter. The rule here is that if
you like to stand close to the ball and you have a straight-ish putting arc,
then a more upright putter will suit you. Alternatively, if you prefer a more
curved arc, and stand further away from the ball, then a flatter lie angle will
suit your stroke.
Checking your lofts and lies is a very easy way of improving your golf. Nowadays, there really is no reason to be playing with clubs that are doing you more harm than good (at least from this perspective), so it’s worth getting them looked at once a year at least.
There’s some confusion around who qualifies as
a ‘golf professional’, as anyone who is a golf expert and involved in either
teaching or playing golf at a professional level could be considered a ‘golf
However, it’s widely accepted that there is a
difference between golf professionals and professional golfers.
Golf professionals typically work in the
business or management side of golf or teach or coach amateur or professional
Then there are professional golfers who compete in high-profile tournaments like the Masters and the PGA Tour.
Many pro golfers follow the route of becoming
a golf professional beforehand, as they have a strong involvement with their
club growing up and decide to get certified.
But equally, many start as amateurs and rely
on their talent to get noticed.
We’ve covered all pathways in this guide on
how to become a golf pro, so you can weigh up your options and take actionable
steps to progress your career.
Hoping to work in the business side of golf? If so, it makes sense to get an overview of the roles available if you gain employment at a golf club and decide to become a PGM Associate.
To give you an idea of the different types of golf professionals, the PGA’s research suggests that those who complete their qualifications fulfil one or more of the following roles:
a qualified teacher or coach
a knowledgeable retailer
a customer advisor
a specialist club fitter
a manager of services, products, facilities, and people
a tournament organiser
a good player
Hopefully, this gives you a good overview of
your career prospects.
Regarding job titles, the highest level you
can reach at a club is typically known as a Head Professional,
followed by Associate Professionals. They
usually manage the club and other employees who work there.
The alternative route is becoming a Teaching
Professional, which is a more practical role overall and mainly involves
Head Professional and Teaching Professional roles can sometimes interlink depending on the club, but there is room to specialise in one area over the other.
The path to becoming a golf professional isn’t
complicated. Still, it requires a high level of skill and dedication to your
development as a player, even if you decide to work business side.
Professional golfing is certainly on the cards
for those who go down this route, as long as they’re equipped with the skills
to compete at an elite level.
Here’s a quick overview of the path to becoming a golf professional in the UK.
the PGM Associate Program
Every golf club has a Head Professional
running their operations, including managing the course and other employees who
This role carries a large responsibility and
is the most advanced path you can reach when learning how to become a golf pro
outside of competing in tournaments.
Suppose you want to eventually become a Head Professional through the PGA. In that case, you’ll need to complete their PGM Associate Program and become an Associate Professional before you can climb through the ranks. This involves:
a background check
passing a qualifying test
gaining employment as an Associate Professional
completing the player ability test (PAT)
This could be helpful if you want to become a
pro golfer, as the PAT test is a great way to prove your skill in the sport.
However, as mentioned earlier, you don’t technically require this to enter tournaments and get noticed.
a golf-related bachelor’s degree
Gaining a PGA qualification is a popular route to becoming a golf professional in the UK, as their degree programmes are the most respected golf qualifications in the world.
If you’re hoping to work business side and
want to climb the ranks once you graduate, this could be the best route for
A foundation degree in Golf Studies (FdSc) is available at the University of Birmingham and can be converted into a BSc (Hons) in Professional Golf Studies.
You can also study a BSc in Applied Golf Management Studies taught in partnership with the University of Birmingham, which grants you membership as a PGA Professional subject to status and application.
There is the opportunity for development once you’ve qualified as a PGA Member through gaining more experience, education, achievements, and accreditations.
The first option is to move from ‘Class A’ to
‘Class AA’ status, which involves gaining 100 CPD points within three years
through suggested professional development.
However, if you reach the age of 55 and haven’t progressed from Class AA status, you will remain at this level for life.
Aside from these initial titles, you can also apply
for any of the following:
PGA advanced professional—meets relevant criteria and has been qualified for a minimum of three years
PGA fellow professional—meets the relevant criteria and has been qualified for a minimum of eight years
PGA advanced fellow professional—meets the relevant criteria and has been qualified for a minimum of ten years
PGA master professional—meets the relevant criteria and has been qualified for a minimum of fifteen years
As you’ve probably gathered, many professional
golf players will hold a PGA qualification, so the two pathways often
But not all skilled players who qualify will go on to become professional golfers, and you also don’t need to qualify to become one, either.
How to become a professional golfer
If you’re a highly skilled player dedicated to
your growth in the sport, then there’s a chance you could become a pro golfer
if you set your mind to it.
Since the PGA Tour is the world’s largest
professional golf tournament organiser, it makes sense for us to discuss how to
reach this level of competition—entering these tournaments is the most popular
end goal for aspiring golfers.
The steps themselves are quite simple. It’s
what’s involved in the process that makes it easier said than done.
You need to be great at what you do, extremely driven, and prepared to put the rest of your life on hold if you want to make it. Here are the next steps if you think you’ve got what it takes.
up to professional standard
Most players fall at the first hurdle, as this
is certainly one part that’s easier said than done. But if you can overcome the
challenge of mastering golf, you’re already halfway there.
Recruiting a coach is a good idea if you can
afford the investment. With their guidance, you can establish a solid training
programme for perfecting your technique and improving faster than working
The game is massively competitive, especially since many golfers start young. But if you’ve got the grit and determination to consistently work on every element of your game, you’ll overtake those who give up too soon.
a swing at amateur events
Once you’ve achieved a high standard and
proven your skill in a few friendly competitions at your local club, it’s time
to progress to more formal events.
Wondering where to start? Using the Golf Empire search tool, you can browse over 10,000 amateur open golf tournaments at more than 1,500 golf clubs in the UK.
You can usually enter as many or as few events
as you wish, meaning you can get a taste of what is expected at these events
without committing to the full thing.
It’s easier said than done, but a huge part of
learning how to become a professional golfer is dominating amateur
Progressing through the ranks will get you noticed and potentially lead to you being invited to or qualifying for a more prestigious event—this is how many golfers go professional.
3. Commit to going professional
If you reach the point where you’re
consistently performing well in amateur competitions and you’re determined
enough to take your career further, this is where you can take things to the
Only you can decide whether or not you’re
ready to go pro, as golf differs from other sports where you’re signed up to a
team. You essentially decide to compete in professional events instead of their
You should be at the best level you can be before
registering for professional events, however, as they are usually very
expensive to enter and highly competitive.
In the UK, the easiest transition into professional events is becoming a PGA member and entering the PGA Open series, most of which have a £100 registration fee and a £20,000 prize fund.
Taking this leap of faith is a big step, but
it’s worth a shot if you know you have what it takes and can afford to do so.
Don’t let age be a hurdle if you’re a great
golfer, as there have been many late bloomers before. It’s a matter of dedication
and skill above all else.
Take U.S. golfer Allen Doyle, for example—he turned pro at 46, proving it’s never too late to chase your dreams if you stay focused.
Finishing in the top 25 on the Korn Ferry Tour is a surefire way to earn a PGA Tour card, but you can only enter this tour if you go to Q-school first.
This process involves competing over four
months to finish in one of the top 25 spots, which earns you an unconditional
place on the Korn Ferry Tour. However, you can still get a conditional place if
you finish in the 26-50 range.
If you compete well enough to finish in the top five of final stage Q-school, you can gain your PGA Tour card this way instead of competing in the Korn Ferry Tour.
in the Korn Ferry Tour
If you’ve come this far, you’ve already become
a professional golfer, but there’s much more to achieve if you keep pushing on.
The Korn Ferry Tour sits just beneath the PGA Tour, and making it to the finals and finishing in the top 25 guarantees you a spot. Finishing in the 26-50 range gives you conditional status, and you’ll still have a chance to make your debut.
PGA Tour player status
This is likely one of the most important
stages of your career.
If you finish in the top 25 at the Korn Ferry
Tour or secure your card through a conditional status, you’ll get a chance to
compete amongst the world’s most elite golf players.
This will be no mean feat. But now you know the steps involved, you can devise a step-by-step plan for achieving this level. SMART goals are a great way to ensure progress.
your spot on the PGA Tour
While you’ve likely achieved your wildest
dreams at this stage, now is not the time to get complacent.
To make your hard work pay off, you should do
everything it takes to ensure you keep your spot as one of the 125 best players
in the sport.
You’ll be standing on golf’s world stage, and you may never make it back if you let your game slip.
Avoid injuries at all costs, maintain your
confidence, and never underestimate the importance of keeping up to speed
Winning high-profile competitions such as the Players Championship or The Masters solidifies your status as a top golfer and can even guarantee your spot on the PGA Tour for years at a time.
If you win the Players Championship, you receive a five-year exemption, a three-year invite to the Masters, and a three-year exemption for the Open and the PGA Championship.
The article below was written by Jack Backhouse of National Club Golfer.
I met up with PGA Professional Jack Backhouse to take a look at three set-up keys to drive the ball better…
Tee the ball higher
Most amateur golfers tee the ball too low. I think the main reason for this is players are worried about skying their drivers, but this shouldn’t be a worry as the pros of a high tee far outweigh the cons.
Optimal tee height encourages the player to hit up on the ball, which creates perfect launch conditions for long drives. Hitting up on the golf ball allows the golfer to launch the ball higher with lower spin, which produces more distance.
A low tee forces the player to hit down on the ball and will often make striking the ball difficult and a swing path that’s out to in, resulting in weak fades or slices. Rory McIlroy is the best driver in the world and he tees the ball up incredibly high so that he can give himself the best possible chance of a good shot.
Tilt the spine angle away from the target
Pretty much all athletic sports movements are done with a spine tilted away from the target. Dropping the right shoulder below the left shoulder for a right-handed golfer sets the body in a position to launch the ball up into the air rather than hit down on it.
Hitting the driver up in the air is hard enough without trying to do it from a poor body position. Most slicers or shot hitters will often find an impact position where the spine angle is too straight or even tilted towards the target, which encourages a downward strike and sub-optimal launch conditions.
Tilting the spine away from the target gives you an angle to rotate your body around, which will produce a flatter golf swing and more swing speed, which is brilliant when using the longest club in the bag.
How can you set up to avoid a slice?
A big reason golfers slice the ball is how they setup, but more specifically than that, they often have terrible shoulder and forearm alignment.
Addressing the ball with a high right forearm and open shoulders is a disaster if you want to drive the golf ball straight, as it restricts the backswing turn and makes the golf club swing plane too steep, producing weak slices that won’t help you score well.
Something that can help golfers drive the ball straighter and longer is by addressing the ball with closed shoulders and a tucked right arm. This always helps the player make a bigger shoulder turn (the best drivers of the ball all have the biggest turns) and helps get the players club and hands more behind them in the backswing.
The benefit of this is that this will allow a golfer to have a faster club head speed and is more likely to help them create an in-to-out swing path that produces a draw. There are plenty of images of hall of fame drivers of the ball that show this.
The article below was written by Matt Chivers of National Club Golfer.
There was a small, select group of people involved in the merger we now see between the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour, and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
One of them was Jimmy Dunne, a man who might not be an instantly recognisable face to golf fans despite his key role on the PGA Tour.
Dunne, the PGA Tour Policy Board’s vice-chairman, was the man to break the news to Rory McIlroy at 6.30am on the morning of June 6, describing the situation as going for the green from 280 yards over water.
Along with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley, PGA Tour Policy Board member Ed Herhily and PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the fine details of the deal were thrashed out over seven weeks.
Dunne was a key cog behind the scenes of the machine that produced what could be professional golf’s most ground-breaking deal, but who is he?
Who is PGA Tour Board member Jimmy Dunne?
Dunne began his career in the hustle and bustle of Wall Street after graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in economics.
He has gone on to become the vice chairman and senior managing principal of investment bank Piper Sandler, and he was one of the founders of Sandler O’Neill and Partners L.P.
Sandler O’Neill went on to become the largest independent full-service investment banking firm that had a focus on the financial services sector.
He is based in Palm Beach and plays an active role in Piper Sandler’s client relationships and advises on mergers and acquisitions.
Dunne has been a regular industry commentator on CNBC and Bloomberg TV, speaking on leadership and management issues.
In terms of sport, many fans and even players can only dream of the Jimmy Dunne golf membership list, which comprises Augusta National, Shinnecock Hills, and Pine Valley.
He is also the president of Seminole Golf Club – a club that hosts the Seminole Pro-Member that features the best players the sport has to offer.
The 65-year-old was asked to join the PGA Tour Policy Board in 2022 and one of his main jobs in the last 12 months was to convince players not to leave the circuit to join LIV Golf.
In an interview with Golf Central, Dunne addressed a number of key topics to do with the PGA Tour’s U-turn in collaborating with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
One of them was 9/11 and the links of Saudi Arabia’s association with the terrorist attacks in New York in 2001 – a day very close to Dunne’s heart.
At the time of the attacks, Dunne was trying to qualify for the US Mid Amateur when he lost 66 employees on the 104th floor in the south tower of the World Trade Centre.
“Every day the first thing I think about is that, several times during the day, I think about it and the last thing I think about at night is that,” Dunne said.
“That has not changed since that day and I’m not alone in that. I would guarantee you that every one of those family members has that same condition. It’s just a reality of how unbelievably sad and awful that day was.
“I am quite certain and have had conversations with a lot of knowledgeable people that the people that I’m dealing with (the PIF) had nothing to do with (the Sept 11 2001 attacks).
“And if someone can find someone that unequivocally was involved with it, I’ll kill him myself. We don’t have to wait around.”
Dunne believes it was important to work with the PIF and Al-Rumayyan to “unite the game” and overcome their differences in the discussions.
Despite Al-Rumayyan’s role as chairman of the new entity, Dunne asserted the PGA Tour hasn’t given up control of its own circuit and it will endeavour to look after the players who remained loyal in the last 12 months.
“By definition, as much as I liked the people I dealt with, the game of golf is too important, the legacy of the PGA Tour is too important,” he added.”
“The people that we have in place have too much experience that we have no desire, no need – there is no way on god’s green earth we’re going to give up control.
“We have to make sure that whatever it is that we finalise, they (the PGA Tour loyalists) feel good about their decisions.
“I think we can get there. I don’t think it’s going to be easy and I don’t think we’re all going to agree, but I think we can get there.”
The article below was written by Steve Carroll of National Club Golfer.
When you think about pace of play, I’ll bet one word looms large. Slow. A lost ball here, a forgotten provisional there, a three-ball that has sprayed it everywhere but the fairway – all get the clocks whirring and keep groups waiting.
But slow play, as you will imagine it, is just a small piece of the overall pace puzzle. Trying to solve it is an intriguing part of being on the officiating team at a major championship.
For all that we like to focus on rulings, dramas, and controversies; about wrong balls, and relief granted or denied, keeping pace of play going is probably a refereeing team’s most important task. It’s certainly the role that takes up most of their time.
At the English Senior Amateur Championship at Alwoodley this week, where I am one of six referees, there are 144 players to get round on each of the first two days. The tee times start at 7am and the last is at 3.30pm.
That’s a lot of opportunity to get unstuck if you haven’t got a clear handle on how long it’s taking for golfers to get round. For the players, it’s clear. Sent out in threes, they should be finished in four hours and 12 minutes.
Making that happen, as best as possible, is where we step in. All referees are given a timing sheet. On it is every group, their tee time, and a clock time from one to 18. That’s when the players need to have completed that hole. It’s judged from the moment the flag goes in.
Referees each monitor a series of holes – let’s call them patches – and as groups come through their quadrants they check their progress against their target time. The chief referee roams the course and can quickly get to any areas that might be causing a problem.
The team aren’t panicking if a particular group is the odd minute or two out. But when the figure starts to climb, the referees are talking.
They are in constant communication with each other on radios, updating the whole team out on the course about which groups might be falling behind, which need encouragement, those that might need a warning to get a move on and, if it comes to it, those where players may require being put on the clock and timed.
It’s not a trap. The intention is not to penalise. Sometimes players have bad days. Sometimes they have difficult shots. Sometimes they lose balls. Sometimes they score badly.
If a group has spent time searching for balls, or players have to go back to the tee to play another, it’s discussed, factored into timing calculations, and delivered to officials.
As groups move out of the patch of one referee, they can be picked up by another if they still require close monitoring.
It’s not about speeding round the course. It’s not about disrupting the individual rhythm of players – some of us naturally move faster than others. It’s keeping groups in position and keeping play moving that’s the key.
‘Pace of play is like a heartbeat’ is how it’s beautifully described to me by a member of the Alwoodley team. ‘You have to keep it pulsing and the beat needs to be regular’. Too slow or misfiring and you’re in trouble.
There are tricks of the trade that will provide respite if there is a danger of a traffic jam forming. A 50-minute starters’ gap at Alwoodley, applied when half the field have got on their way, essentially provides a re-set and means the afternoon starters won’t be walking into rush hour if things have gone a bit awry.
But on day one at the English Senior Men’s Amateur, they do not. Each little delay brings a new team missive, and buggies moving around the course keep any delays as much as possible to their minimum.
It is a policy that’s keenly enforced. I see the odd random timing carried out when a message does not appear to have hit home. I do one myself. And with two competition days still remaining, there will be no resting on laurels. A new day brings new challenges. These officials will be waiting.