In this year’s intake of PGA Trainees in Queensland there are three in particular with an excellent understanding of the opportunities that lie ahead.
The reality is that it could have gone one of two ways.
Seeing a parent leave the house early to go to work, getting home late, hours of toil in between. Working on weekends when other parents are watching their kids play junior sport. These are just some of the many sacrifices PGA Professionals must make, and it is not a job for everyone.
But if you love golf – truly love it – then suddenly a career spent working within golf clubs, helping others to get better and building your own business sounds like a dream come true.
In this 2020 intake of PGA Trainees in Queensland three will become second-generational PGA Pros at the completion of their studies, two of whom are undertaking the Trainee Program employed by their fathers.
Prior to applying encouragement was offered and realities discussed but in all three cases there had to first be a common denominator; a love of the game.
“My entire childhood was spent annoying Dad and all his staff because I never left the shop,” recalls Jesse Egea, who has commenced the Trainee Program under his father Andrew at Wolston Park Golf Club in Brisbane.
“School holidays I would go out as early as Mum would let me leave the house until as late as she would let me come back.
“It was awesome.
“Dad’s had a good career and a good life and loves the industry so it just made me think that this is what I should be doing.
“I’d never really had that feeling, of really wanting to do something, and this was it.”
“I’ve never pushed any of my kids to play golf but the two boys, Jesse and Taj, are both right into it,” explains Andrew, who completed the Trainee Program under Bob Werrell at Wentworth Golf Club in Orange.
“Jesse was loving his golf and got down to a 7-handicap around the age of 13 but he’s always loved rugby league as well. He was missing his mates and missing footy so he went back and did that for 10 years.
“It was when I got the job here at Wolston Park four years ago that he got back into golf. He was studying Commerce at Griffith University and I asked him whether he wanted to come and work with me in the Pro Shop. “That got him back around the golf industry again and three years later he’s in the first year of the Trainee Program.”
Like Andrew Egea, Virginia Golf Club Director of Golf Brett Maxwell is embracing the possibility of one day having two children join the PGA Professional ranks.
Son Zach boasts a growing amateur resume that includes a runner-up finish at last year’s Queensland Amateur while daughter Zoe has chosen to begin the Trainee Program under her father at Virginia.
Admitting that Zoe was initially unsure of what she wanted to do when she finished high school, Brett simply opened the door to opportunity and let Zoe make her own choice.
“I never pushed it but obviously with me working in the golf industry they were always around golf and the golf club,” Maxwell says.
“They played all their other sports and I told them that if they wanted to pursue their golf I’d certainly help.
“Zoe was a little bit unsure of what she wanted to do but in her last year of school thought this was the direction that she wanted to go.
“She would still like to play tournaments but I think in particular she will do quite well in the coaching side of things. “Even before becoming a PGA Trainee she was helping out with the juniors and now I try and have her involved in the junior clinics which she seems to enjoy.
“That’s the benefit of the Trainee Program for Zoe. Zach is very adamant that playing is for him but if that doesn’t work out I could see him doing a the PGA Bridging Program and getting into coaching as well.”
When Jessica Cook finished Year 12 at the end of 2017 she was determined to see whether a life in golf was what she really wanted.
Obsessed with the game from an early age given her father Paul Cook was the long-time Head PGA Professional at Woodford Golf Club on the Sunshine Coast, Jessica used a gap year to see what else might be out there.
She picked up glasses at local clubs, worked in childcare and even served as a party supervisor at the local 10-pin bowling alley but day after day, no matter what she did, her mind always came back to golf.
“At the end of a hard day’s work I just wanted to go to the range or go and play golf,” says Jessica, who is completing the Trainee Program under John Victorsen Jnr at Wantima Country Club in Brisbane’s northern suburbs.
“When I realised that my mind could not get away from the golfing side of it, that was the sign that this was what I really wanted to do.”
But despite her family connection, it took Jessica two attempts before she was selected to begin the program.
A handicap hovering just below the cut-off mark of 6 meant that Jessica’s first application in 2019 was denied but she returned a year later with renewed vigour and a Golf Australia handicap of 0.6.
“I was disappointed of course that I didn’t get selected but I took away from the application what I had learnt,” Jessica says. “I knew what was expected in interviews, I knew what was expected in the playing aspect and I took that into the next year and got selected to be a PGA Trainee in 2020.
“When I didn’t get into the Trainee Program the first year the PGA called Dad and let him know what was going on and why I didn’t get selected. That made me feel very welcome within the PGA, creating that family-based atmosphere in letting my dad know what was going on.
“We had a chat about whether I wanted to go ahead and do it but missing out just gave me the extra motivation to want to keep going and do it.”
Parent and child; employer and employee; student and teacher.
There are a number of different dynamics at play when a son or daughter chooses to undertake the PGA Trainee Program under the supervision of their parent.
Jessica Cook recalls the odd silent car trip back from Woodford Golf Club after practice sessions under the tutelage of her father Paul and Brett Maxwell understands exactly the type of liberties that could be taken by having his daughter work for him at Virginia.
“We had that discussion early on, that when we’re at work I’m her boss, not her dad,” says Brett.
“That’s how it’s got to work. She respects that and even early on if she forgets that I’ll point it out and then it’s fine.
“Zach also works in the club part-time in between tournaments and I tell them that if I’m not around they have to listen to our other PGA Teaching Professional and not make up their own rules just because Dad’s not in the shop.
“It’s definitely something I’m conscious of though and trying to stay on top of.
“At this stage it’s working fine and putting that on the table straight up helped to set those ground rules.”
At 27 years of age, Jesse Egea has already spent three years working under his father Andrew at Wolston Park.
It’s given him something of a head-start on knowing what to expect as a PGA Trainee as well as establishing a clear working relationship with his dad.
Although he wasn’t bestowed a designated job description until officially beginning in the PGA program this year – “I was essentially the right-hand man to the head pro” – Jesse has helped to manage the pro shop in addition to assisting with junior clinics.
He and the boss get on fine and he has no doubt that golf has strengthened their relationship throughout the years. “It was always something we shared. I’ve got such a good relationship with Dad and a lot of that is due to the fact that we spent so much time together when I was growing up,” says Jesse.
“I was essentially at his work every day playing golf. Every time I hit a bad shot I’d be pestering him wanting to know how to fix it. He would have spent countless hours helping me when I was young. We would have spent a stupid amount of time together growing up.
“It’s certainly made us pretty close.”
When Paul Cook’s time at Woodford recently came to an end, it provided the silver lining of allowing him to watch Jessica play more often.
With the support of her father and also John Victorsen Jnr, Jessica has already begun thinking about how she can influence the next generation in her career as a PGA Professional.
“I would absolutely love to get into coaching young girls,” says Jessica, one of four female Trainees in the Queensland class of 2020.
“As a junior at Woodford I was the only junior there with no other girls around. I’d spend my days at the range on my own. “It was only when you’d go to the Glasshouse Mountains and Sunshine Coast days that you would see other girls and start to make friends.
“I first started working with John in November 2018 and in my first few months he started doing a few lessons at schools and asked me to come and join him and see how those group lessons work. “What I noticed over that time is that a lot of girls prefer to have another female around. I could give exactly the same instruction as John but it was like they preferred to hear it from me.
“I would love to think that in time I can encourage even more girls to get into golf and more of them to work towards becoming a PGA Professional themselves.”
Sounds as though we’re in good hands.