For graduates of the PGA Membership Pathway Program and their indentured professionals, 2020 presented some challenges that didn’t come with a roadmap to navigate.
In Victoria in particular, various periods of lockdown meant that there was a physical disconnect between Associates and their workplace, but Director of Golf at Kingston Heath went out of his way to ensure that Lachlan Kenny and the golf operations team were actively engaged throughout.
“During lockdown Justin was always very active in making sure that we had something to do or could be involved with any changes or processes made from an operational perspective and also club perspective,” explains Kenny, who completed the PGA Membership Pathway Program at the end of 2020.
“Whilst everyone was locked up so to speak, we were working quite diligently throughout that lockdown period.
“From a support point of view, he always made sure that all of us had the ability to stay connected which was a massive boost.”
The mentorship that is a feature of the PGA of Australia’s Membership Pathway Program was crucial in Kenny’s career development.
His father Andrew has been the General Manager at Pelican Waters on the Sunshine Coast and Heritage Golf and Country Club in Melbourne and his family are close friends with former ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia player Heath Reed.
When Kenny moved to Melbourne to advance his playing career he sought the counsel of Ben Bunny at Ranfurlie Golf Club and found a mentor in Burrage at Kingston Heath who would provide clarity around his career prospects within the golf industry.
“Heath always taught me to work hard and if I was going to give something a go to give it my all,” Kenny explains.
“Ben Bunny at Ranfurlie was always a shoulder to lean upon and run ideas past, especially while I was looking at playing. He was a great coach and definitely helped with my coaching to membership.
“Justin has been at Kingston Heath for 18 years and really invested his time into me, ensuring that if I had any questions or concerns to voice that to him.
“That’s where the communication side really came to life with myself. If there was an issue, rather than stewing on it, to talk it through. He was always very supportive with any ideas or challenges that we had in the workplace and how we could work through those.
“Those three as PGA Members were definitely big mentors for myself.”
Recognising that staff turnover at Kingston Heath is minimal, Kenny and Burrage began evaluating opportunities elsewhere when a twist of fate opened the way for a return to where Kenny’s traineeship had begun.
Another Melbourne lockdown delayed his start date by a week but the doors open again Kenny will be employed as the Golf Operations Manager at Settlers Run Golf and Country Club.
“Throughout the last year I worked out that I wanted to transition out of playing and into club management and golf operations,” said Kenny, who began the Member Pathway Program at Settlers Run before moving to Kingston Heath with the club’s full blessing.
“Towards the end of my traineeship I sat down with Justin and we talked through the avenues I wanted to work into and openly discussing areas that I can work into outside of Kingston Heath.
“I knew from a little way out that a move was necessary and he was fully supportive of talking through the pros and cons of each avenue that I wanted to go down.
“The opportunity came up at Settlers Run where I originally started my traineeship and I jumped at it.”
Courtesy of his mentors along the way, Kenny now understands how he wants to impact the facilities he works at throughout his career, starting at Settlers Run.
“Whatever which operation you are in, a level of attentiveness and service has no price,” says Kenny.
“It’s all down to effort and making sure that members and anyone attending the club feels welcome. “I’ll still learn how to deal with people management but it’s taking ownership of everyone’s accountability to ensure that anyone waking through the door is going to have an enjoyable experience.
“Hopefully that will help to grow the game of golf.”