The "Who", Not the "Where"

by Brian Dobak
April 25, 2012

What's more important? Should you focus on getting jobs at facilities that are prestigious and have a name that dresses up your resume? Or should you focus on getting into a club that doesn't quite have the name recognition but where you would be working for a great Head Professional that makes a point to invest his time and effort into developing you and making you the best golf professional you can be? Should you sacrifice the "where" for the "who"? Or vice versa? This is a topic that came up more than a few times in my conversations with others at the PGA Annual Meeting in Orlando in January. That assistants these days have to be careful, was unanimous.

Some clubs have both characteristics. They have the name, and they have a Head Professional in place that cares about the professional welfare of his/her staff members. In these cases, it's a grand slam! But the truth of the matter is that many clubs don't have both, and that's where we have to start making some choices.

When we're a young apprentice and we're trying hard to make it in this business, we don't really have the experience yet to know right from wrong in the business. It's a trial by fire process where we're getting our feet wet and seeing what works and what doesn't work.

There is no denying that a facility with a name will dress up your resume and market you nicely, but there is no comparison to the experience of working for a Head Professional who actively takes a stand in mentoring you at every corner of the way. A Head Professional who has a vested interested in the development of his/her staff members while at the club AND after they move on.

Unfortunately, there are some Head Professionals who aren't too concerned about the future of their staff members after they have moved on. They squeeze you for your time and creativity while you're there, and when you leave, the relationship ends. There are even Head Professionals out there that put a "governor" on the experiences and learning curves of their staff members so they don't look too good in the eyes of the members, for fear of their own job security.

You have to be careful with where you go and who you work for. Your learning experience as an assistant golf professional depends on it. When opportunities arise, weigh the positives and the negatives. Do your homework on the facility and do your best in researching who you might be working for. Call some of their past assistant professionals if you can find out who they are. In the interview, ask the tough questions to really find who you might be working for, there is nothing wrong with that.

If you get into a top club, but the Head Professional is questionable, then it's a failing proposition. You can only ride the wave of a clubs name for so long. Regardless of the club, you need to hook up with a Head Professional that will take you under his wing not just while you're there, but after you're gone. You need to hook up with a professional who "walks the talk" and makes him/herself available to you when you need the support. Mentoring is absolutely essential to our development. Our careers depend on it. Without it, it's a setback in our career.

It's all about the "who", not so much the "where".