There is a certain level of proficiency you need as a golfer before embarking on a journey down the PGA Membership Pathway Program.
There is a playing test to pass before you begin, and to become a fully-fledged PGA Professional, there is a standard you must maintain for the three years of your study.
So it should come as little surprise that the vast majority of PGA Associates have aspirations to play the largest tours in world golf when they begin.
It wasn’t so long ago that those with professional aspirations could not play tournament golf until first completing their time in the pro shop, but the modern tendency is for elite amateurs to jump head-first into the cut-throat world of qualifying schools and tournament invitations.
But there is an option in between, and it provides a pathway to the best tournaments in the world without the anxiousness of having nothing else to fall back on.
Hailing from Geelong, Deyen Lawson understood early in the second year of his time under Steve Brody at Curlewis Golf Club that if he wanted to be an elite tour player he had to start practising like one.
The results were almost instant.
He won the New South Wales, Queensland and Victorian trainee championships and in 2015 won a total of 10 times, including the Rich River Trainee Classic and CPM Southern PGA Trainee Championship.
The following year he notched three top-10 finishes in the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia events, played the China Tour in 2018 and by 2019 had a full card on the European Tour.
“I knew that by the end of the traineeship I’d know what I wanted to do,” reflects Lawson, who is currently ranked 551st in the Official World Golf Rankings and playing predominantly on the European Challenge Tour.
“You get an idea over the three years whether you want to play or coach or manage. It really shows you what you want your life and career to look like.
“Midway through the second year of my traineeship something clicked in my practice and realising that after the three years I wanted to be ready to go and play.
“I had an opportunity in my second and third year to get into a financial position where I could play for a couple of years without worrying about money as such. Give it a real crack and if worked out, good, and if it didn’t I’d go down the coaching route.
“My brother was doing his traineeship at the time as well and he said at the end of the Vic Trainee champs in 2015 that it was the first one that I’d won because I worked harder than everybody else, not because I was more talented than most of the guys that were there.”
When the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of much of the 2020 European Tour season, Lawson returned home to Australia and began coaching under Todd Sleep at The Glades Golf Club on the Gold Coast.
Coaching remains an active interest that he is likely to explore further when he has finished playing and may have inadvertently cost him a breakthrough PGA Tour of Australasia win earlier this year.
“My coach Darrell Brown has said not to help anyone because I know too much and then it will screw you over,” Lawson admits.
“I helped Andrew Evans a few weeks before he won the Queensland Open. He only took $10,000 out of my pocket, but that’s OK.
“He’d missed six cuts in a row and I was on the putting green by myself at about 5 or 6 at night and he was just watching me.
“We spoke about how terrible he’d been going and he asked me to take a look at his putting.
“You see a guy on a putting green grinding and he was down and out with his golf. It was as though he was about to break down, and we’ve all been there.
“It was just a mindset with his putting and his routine and one thing with his grip and set-up. It was keeping it simple and then a few drills.
“It was slightly a technique thing that then turns into a mental thing which is normally something that can creep in for a good player.
“He went out a couple of weeks later and won… and I came second.
“He mentioned me afterwards on his Instagram but I told him not to tell too many people.”