The "Professional" in Golf Professional

by Brian Dobak
June 28, 2010

The PGA Professional dedication statement that can be found on the PGA Professional membership plaque states:

"Dedicated to the ideal that the name "Golf Professional" should be a pledge of honor, service, and fair dealing and that their professional commitment and fidelity to the game of golf brings a sense of great responsibility to employers, employees, manufacturers, golfers, and fellow golf professionals, and transcends the thought of material gain in the motives of the true golf professional"

That is what is written.

That is what the PGA of America has prescribed as its definition of golf professionalism, but I am inclined to think that there is a lot more to it than that and I’m sure they would say so to. So, what about all that is unwritten? After watching it for the umpteenth time, in the movie “A Few Good Men”, much is spoken about the unwritten rules of the Marines. What are these unwritten rules of the golf profession?

Professionalism is important in all walks of business, but there is something about the golf profession that stands out. I have had my fair share of exposure to the top clubs in the country and it is the professionalism of the staff that stands out the most to me. Whether or not you would like to own up to it, not only is your professionalism a direct reflection of you as a golf professional, but it is also a reflection of you as a person. There is also a reason why it is said that how you play the game and how you act is a window into your being as a person. Integrity, character, and professionalism will take you far in this business let alone the world we live in. Matthew 7:20 states, “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions”.

A former assistant of Brendan Walsh at The Country Club of Brookline shared with me that Mr. Walsh tells his assistants that no matter how young you are in this business, "Carry yourself like your 35 years old" and "The sooner you look like a HP, the sooner you will become a HP". Great words to work by. With unemployment at record lows, the importance of professionalism in the workplace cannot be overlooked as a key to success and advancement in this business. How you dress, speak, act, and write can determine your level of professionalism. Since our culture has become more relaxed and casual, many believe that mediocre work is acceptable and thus there are clubs that accept mediocre results. However, those clubs that set the excellence bar very high and stress the importance of professionalism in the workplace are usually growing, vibrant entities.

In the playing of golf, professionals are delineated from amateurs in that they play for money whereas amateurs play for the purest love of the game. In our business dealings off the course and in the golf shop, how can we delineate professionalism from amateurism? I stumbled upon a great article on the internet that touches on this very subject. The following points are from the article and I think they can apply to the unwritten rules of our business let alone any other:

A professional is responsible outside of work and brings it to work.
An amateur is irresponsible outside of work and brings it to work.
A professional will shake your hand and look you in the eye.
An amateur keeps their hands in their pockets.
A professional comes to work mentally prepared.
An amateur brings their personal problems to work.
A professional is forward thinking and knows what is next.
An amateur lives in the past.
A professional learns every aspect of the job.
An amateur skips the learning process whenever possible.
A professional discovers what is needed and wanted.
An amateur assumes what is needed and wanted.
A professional looks, speaks and dresses like a professional.
An amateur is sloppy in appearance and speech.
A professional keeps his or her work area clean and orderly.
An amateur has a confused work area.
A professional is focused and clear-headed.
An amateur is confused and distracted.
A professional does not let mistakes slide by.
An amateur ignores or hides mistakes.
A professional jumps into difficult assignments.
An amateur tries to get out of difficult work.
A professional completes projects in a timely manner.
An amateur is surrounded by unfinished work.
A professional remains level-headed and optimistic.
An amateur gets upset and assumes the worst.
A professional handles money and accounts very carefully.
An amateur is sloppy with money or accounts.
A professional faces up to other people’s upsets and problems.
An amateur avoids others’ problems.
A professional persists until the objective is achieved.
An amateur gives up at the first opportunity.
A professional produces more than expected.
An amateur produces just enough to get by.
A professional produces high-quality service.
An amateur is producer of mediocrity.
A professional earns high pay.
An amateur earns low pay and feels it’s unfair.
A professional has a promising future.
An amateur has an uncertain future.

You can never be too professional. The first step to making yourself a professional is to decide you ARE a professional. Are you a professional?