The PGA of Australia’s Membership Pathway Program has undergone some significant recent changes for the better. And applications are open now, ending on July 31.
Formerly known as the PGA Trainee Program, the Membership Pathway Program (MPP) has been adapted to be more inclusive for a diverse range of applicants, flexible with current working arrangements and focused on the desired area of employment at the conclusion of a now named PGA Associate’s three-year stint in the program.
“The main premise of the improvements we have made is to make the program one more effective in terms of the outcomes for the graduates that work in the golf industry, but secondly more inclusive," PGA of Australia General Manager – Education & Membership Geoff Stewart told Golf Australia magazine.
“And inclusivity can mean various things, it is more inclusive for women, it is more inclusive for people who want to switch careers maybe a school teacher who wants to become a golf professional, and also more inclusive in terms of the playing ability."
The primary change to the program is in what the PGA refer to as “streams” of the education program that is designed to create tournament players, club professionals, coaches, golf club general managers and many other industry roles at its inclusion, while also giving each graduate a diploma level qualification.
“The old trainee program had four streams in it, coaching, game development, small business and management,” Stewart said. “So we have retained those subject areas, but what we have effectively put in place is two stages for the Membership Pathway Program. So, now in years one and two, the PGA Associates complete what we would call core PGA member competencies or core golf industry competencies.
“They are not just competencies around being a PGA professional it is more broadly around the golf industry, all sorts of topics across coaching, game development, small business and management. And playing the sport. They are the five subject areas that they cover across year one and two where they basically all conduct the same program and cover what we call the core competencies.
“At the end of the year two, they now stream into one of the five areas: coaching, game development, small business, management or playing.”
The PGA of Australia does only offer the playing specialisation in year three to those who have shown playing capabilities that suggest a potential career as a Tour professional. And the playing section of the three-year course has also changed for those not chasing a career on Tour but within the industry.
In place for a number of years now, those going through the program only need to pass one stage of playing competency, not the three previously required. This means that if a MPP candidate passes their playing in their first year, although still required to tee it up in the tournaments held for members, they can put the bulk of their focus into their desired stream as they prepare to enter a certain segment of the broad and varied golf industry.
Another change that has come and will help broaden the appeal of the program, is the ability of program participants to complete the MPP whilst working part-time in the golf industry.
“The main premise of the improvements we have made is to make the program one more effective in terms of the outcomes for the graduates that work in the golf industry, but secondly more inclusive." – Geoff Stewart, PGA of Australia General Manager - Education & Membership
“That had been a bit of a barrier for some people for many years, so particularly for those who are transitioning from another career, they might want to keep their fingers in their other career a couple of days per week while they complete the Membership Pathway Program, we didn’t want to cut those people out from being included within the program. That was designed to further increase inclusivity, maybe for single parents who working full-time can be a struggle,” says Stewart.
“At times some of our good candidates could only find part-time work because of where they lived, say in a regional area, and therefore our old systems didn’t allow them to actually enter the programs until they found full-time work. And we found that as a significant barrier for some good candidates.”
Still required to complete the same number of hours, just over a longer period of time, the part-time change is part of a promising modernisation of the PGA’s member program that has also seen an increase in online learning for those in the MPP.
Partially influenced by the difficulties of the past 18 months with COVID-19 as well as helping aid the focus on inclusivity for the time poor and remotely based, webinars and e-learning are now the primary source of the education aspects of the program.
No longer referred to as Trainees and categorised within the PGA’s membership categories as Associates, the PGA is encouraging clubs, fellow PGA professionals and others to refer to program participants by their specific job title at their place of employment, once again showing a willingness to move away from the one-size-fits-all approach of previous trainee programs.
Applications for the next in take into the all-new Membership Pathway Program close at the end of this month, with more details, including requirements, to be found by contacting the PGA of Australia.
For more information, visit www.pga.org.au/education/academy/membership-pathway-program/