Why You Need to Bust Through the PGA Apprentice Program

by Brian Dobak
April 5, 2010

By no means does the post-grad PGA PGM Apprentice Program share any of the challenges and obstacles that a Masters of International Business Administration from NYU does. However they do have a few things in common:

1.) They require commitment.
2.) The harder you work, the quicker you graduate.
3.) It’s a long and tedious process.

With that said, there are two ways you can approach the progress you envision yourself making through the program. You can either coast through it and make it more difficult, more tedious, and a longer process than it needs to be. Or you can tackle it head on, graduate as quickly as possible, put it behind you, and give yourself an opportunity to obtain positions that you otherwise wouldn't be qualified for if you coasted through.

1-3 years OR 5 or 6 years?

As apprentices, how often have we browsed PGALinks or the AMF job opportunities board and watched great jobs pass us by. They come and go and we’re left wishing we could have had a shot at them. Don't be in that situation. Part of this business is about creating opportunities and opening doors for yourself. The quicker you can put the PGM Program behind, the wider the doors will open and the more plentiful your opportunities will be.

After passing a checkpoint, congratulations, but it’s not that big of a deal. Because chances are, you will run into the roadblock many apprentices run into. It’s common for apprentices to return to work from the checkpoint and give themselves a one-month break from the program and put their next levels kit in the closet. One month will become three months, three months will become six months, and six months will become twelve months. Don't be that apprentice. Don't take a break. Keep the momentum going. After a checkpoint, keep pressing. Go right back into the books and start banging out the next kit. Don't get stuck.

Take heed: You may not realize it, but your progress (or lack thereof) is a reflection of your self and a reflection of your commitment as a golf professional. Most Head Professionals want motivated apprentices that are committed to becoming PGA Professionals and being successful as a golf professional. I find it hard to believe that there are Head Professionals that wouldn't dump you if you've been an apprentice for 4 years and haven't even attended the Level 1 or even level 2 checkpoints yet. The bottom line is, HP’s want to see consistent and thorough progress. There is no reason whatsoever that the program can't be finished in three years. Two years is very realistic. One year is very possible.

Year’s back, before I achieved my Class "A", I was traveling to and from South Florida during my winters. A great man and former boss during those experiences hit home with this very subject and it made me realize the importance of graduating in a timely manner. He said, "First and foremost, do everything you can to get through the PGM program as soon as possible. I don't mean rush it. Take the time to truly understand the materials because they will serve you for the rest of your career. However, don't fall into the trap of working on the materials in the off-season. I have seen people do this and it takes them too long to get through the program and they have missed out on some good opportunities that they may have gotten if they were a member. Anyone should be able to go through the program in two years without any problems."

Do you want this program hanging over your head? How long are you willing to have the weight of achieving this distinction on your shoulders? But that may be just the point, its not that heavy, this is golf we're speaking of. It’s a business and a game we love so don't make the process and the work more difficult than it has to be. Just lay everything out, formulate a plan, and just get it done. End of story.