As the daughter of a PGA Professional, Chantal Hodson knew little more than golf in her formative years.
When she and her brother Reece would return him from school when Bruce was the Head Professional at Kangaroo Valley Golf and Country Club in the New South Wales Southern Highlands, the golf course was their playground.
Even when the family moved to Bathurst in the Central West of NSW, Bruce built a range on the property so that golf was always on hand.
Encouraged by her father and sick of following Reece around as he played in junior golf tournaments, Chantal started playing competitively, making such an impression that by 14 she was invited to play Junior Pennants for The Australian Golf Club in Sydney.
After completing school her father hooked her up with an old mate in Bill Exten at New South Wales Golf Club but midway through her three-year traineeship Chantal could feel a shift in the path she wanted her career in golf to take.
“When I was doing my traineeship I had the opportunity to coach quite a bit so I was really at a crossroads for a long time in what I wanted to do in terms of coaching or going down the management stream,” says Chantal, who is currently employed as the Manager of Golf Operations at Royal Sydney Golf Club.
“It was a really hard decision because I like both so much and there’s obviously such a huge market for a female coach in the current climate.
“That’s the beauty of the trainee program. You’ve got so many different avenues that you can take and work out exactly what you want to do.
“It was a hard decision for a long time but once I got the job at Royal Sydney it was pretty clear that I wanted to move into the management side of things and progress down that line.
“I certainly had a couple of different options up my sleeve and been lucky enough to work at a really good club and in a position to progress and move forward with my career.”
Given her father’s 50-year association with the PGA, it was a pathway with obvious appeal for Chantal once she completed schooling in Bathurst.
“At the time I’d come out of school and played so much golf that I was actually a little bit burnt out,” Chantal explains.
“At a younger age I probably just assumed that I’d go overseas and play on tour but when I thought about the trainee program – Dad always spoke so highly of the PGA – it just seemed to make sense.
“I worked casually at Antill Park under Bret Chappell for a year and then the position came up at New South.
“At that time Bill was running the business within a big club and he ran that business really well. HIs 2IC had just left so I was lucky to be given quite a lot of responsibility early and progressed in my role quite quickly.
“I had the opportunity to coach and I was part of the launch of the cadet program and was on the committee for that when it started and helped facilitate and coach that.
“I was lucky enough to have access to coaching and Bill had the confidence in me to give me the time to coach and the time to practise and play.
“We had a great working relationship and he gave me the leeway to teach and I had a fair bit of responsibility which was good for my growth.
“I’ve been quite fortunate with my career and the timing of it all.”
Although Chantal has gravitated toward the management area of the golf industry, she doesn’t want to ever lose direct connection with the game and the people that play it.
“Director of Golf at a private club is the goal,” Chantal says.
“Management is the domain that I found my feet in but I love the relationship with members and always want to keep that.
“The ability to go and play golf, do the odd clinic and coaching component, club-fitting, all that sort of stuff I still really enjoy and that close relationship with golf.”
Applications for the PGA Membership Pathway Program open on July 1. For more information, visit pga.org.au/education.