Future NZ golf professionals are world class

By Andrew Whiley
A voice from the South

Last month I enjoyed attending the New Zealand Professional Golfers’ Association (NZPGA) trainee graduation day at Gulf Harbour in north Auckland.

The purpose of this day is to celebrate the trainees completing their three years of education and graduating as full members of the NZPGA.

Having been a NZPGA board member since 2008, I have seen over 60 trainees graduate as full members of the PGA.

Each year the quality of the trainee golf professionals graduating is even more impressive. Having a day to recognise and celebrate with their families, all of the hard work that these trainees have put in, is important. Gulf Harbour was a majestic setting for this day and the evening meal and presentations highlighted why this is a great location for golf and events.

This year nine new members were recognised at the PGA trainee awards and graduation.

They were AA class members Sam Abela (Pakuranga GC) and Jess Guenzerodt (Russley GC); A class members Sam Hill, Benson Chen, Kris J Gundersen, Matt McDowell and Mauri-oho Stokes. It was also great to see former top tour players Richard Lee and Brad Shilton complete their bridging programme in adding in their tour experience with the education requirements to transition themselves to full Class A members of the NZPGA.

The PGA values awards were on this occasion presented by our best known caddy Steve Williams. Sam Abela received his for outstanding academic achievements and his research paper on effective course length that was recently turned into a case study for the golf industry by New Zealand Golf. Larissa Eruera (Mount Maunganui) received hers for outstanding academic achievements for developing and growing golf for women and junior girls.

PGA professionals complete a three-year modern apprenticeship to be qualified in coaching, management, small business, club technology, repairs and events. These are the first trainees to graduate through the New Zealand apprenticeship scheme of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and were presented with NZQA qualifications.

The workload to pass the studies, whilst maintaining their golfing ability by playing in trainee matches and tournaments, on top of working 40-hour plus weeks, really makes for a very busy three years. After personally having interviewed these future golf professionals at the aptitude assessment day three years ago, it is always a privilege to see how these individuals grow and become more professional over time.

As New Zealand is part of the PGA world alliance, this allows NZPGA graduates to be internationally recognised. The education programme is taught to the standards that are globally recognised. What is pleasing to the NZPGA is that we have instructors and educators in this country that are truly world class and experts in the industry who are available to impart their knowledge to these future golf professionals.

Today, graduates of the NZPGA programme are known to be well educated and have the skills to make them assets in golf roles around the world. Currently, there are New Zealand golf professionals working throughout Australia, Asia, the South Pacific, North America, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Europe.

So when you are next in a golf shop talking to the trainee or young NZPGA professional behind the counter, or getting a few tips from them, you will quickly realise that these individuals aren’t just knowledgeable and good at what they do, they are truly world class.