Make or Break: Define What Success Is For You

by Brian Dobak
April 19, 2010

If you haven’t already, at some point early in your career as a golf professional, you need to ask yourself what success will be for you in this business. Define it. What is it that you will have to do to be able to give yourself an outstanding evaluation in your career? If “Point A” is here, where or what is “Point B”? At what point will you be able to say that you have reached “Point B”? Does “Point B” even exist? Before you do anything, ask your self, “What do I want out of this?” If you take a certain direction, what is it and what will be required to get there? Once you have determined what you want, you can then formulate a plan of attack.

As an assistant professional, what do you want out of this? Where do you want to go in this business? What are you willing to do to get there? A career as a golf professional is not easy, and just like any other career path, you have to sacrifice things to get things. However, the great thing about the golf business and becoming a PGA Professional is that there are many avenues of focus to choose from. All it takes is looking at the PGA Classifications list and one can obtain a good perspective on where to go with your Class “A” distinction. Being a PGA Professional makes you qualified on paper for every area on that list, with the rest being applied work experience and your enthusiasm to serve others.

Why are you in this business? Jim Smith, Director of Golf at The Philadelphia Cricket Club states quite simply, “Not everyone wants to be the head pro at a top-100 type facility; for some, securing a sleepy job at a low-activity facility is perfect.” There is nothing wrong with either path, figuring out what you want is what you have to make right.

What do you want out of this business? Being a golf professional because you just want to play golf or because you don't enjoy manual labor will likely not lead you to success as a golf professional. If you don't want to work hard, then you won't exhibit the kind of commitment required to work hard, and if you don't do this, then you are less likely to accomplish professional and operational goals.  You have to WANT to work hard, and that's not easy for everyone.  A poor work ethic is the commencement of a ripple effect that can have far reaching consequences on your career and the colleagues and peers around you. Not to mention that veteran golf professionals can smell it like blood.

Is being a golf professional a job to you? Or is it a career to you? There is nothing wrong with either answer, but one of them is more right then the other. Focus on your current job and where you are now, but be career-minded. When you have a career-mentality, the map is large and there are many places you can go. The sky (and more) is the limit. It’s a disappointment to see apprentices that don't take their job or career seriously. It shows in their work ethic and it shows in their performance output in the work environment. The golf industry is a very competitive environment and there are very few jobs with many qualified candidates clawing to earn those positions. You need to ask yourself, "What is my idea or vision of success in this business?" Once you have an answer to that, the road to get there becomes much clearer and a whole lot easier.

Based on my experiences as an assistant professional, Head Professionals very commonly want assistants with clear goals and a vision of what they want. You can accomplish anything, but you have to have the desire. The expectations must be crystal clear and you must be willing to work hard, pay your dues, and devote large quantities of time. What job doesn't demand those things? If you aren't willing to do this as a golf professional, then you may need to rethink your career path.

If you haven’t done it yet, define what success is for you as a golf professional. Before you go into work tomorrow morning, define it and be clear on what you want out of this career path. You will probably look at your job differently and you might even approach it in a better, more career-focused, positive way. You may even realize that you don’t want to be a golf professional, and there is nothing wrong with that. But the sooner you start searching for the answers and make the decision, the better off you’ll be. The decisions start now. Define what success is for you.