Michael Draper completed the PGA’s Membership Pathway Program with distinction at the end of 2020. On January 1 this year, the 2019 Western Australian PGA Trainee of the Year started work as the Head PGA Professional at Albany Golf Club at the state’s southern tip.
There can be no more rapid ascension but Draper credits the mentorship of long-time Albany Professional Ian Redmond, General Manager Dan Northcott and his background in the WA Police Force for making a smooth transition into the top job.
An outstanding junior soccer player who played for Fremantle Spirit with dreams of being elevated to the Perth Glory A-League squad, Draper graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Sports Administration at the time of the GFC in 2008.
Unable to find employment in a slumping economy, Draper spent three years in a graduate tax accounting role before he and his wife spent 18 months doing voluntary work at a children’s home in Cambodia.
When he returned to Perth, Draper joined the Police Force and after six months at the Academy was stationed in Albany, a twist of fate that has led him to become the local golf club’s Head Professional.
“By the time I moved to Albany in 2015 I was playing off a 5 handicap and won a couple of club championships,” Draper recalls.
“All the stars aligned really. Ian Redmond was looking to take a step back so I approached Ian and the pro shop manager in 2017 for a position and they agreed to take me on as a trainee.
“With my police background and a uni degree they knew I wouldn’t have a drama with the academic stuff as long as I applied myself and so I started in January 2018.
“If I wasn’t in Albany I don’t know that I would have been able to do it and be where I am now.”
Like his training for the police force, Draper’s promotion was discussed early in his commencement of the Membership Pathway Program.
Given the breadth of knowledge of both Redmond and Northcott and his own life experience and education, Draper felt fully equipped to transition from trainee to all of the responsibilities that come with being a PGA Professional.
“You need that mentorship as a police officer because they basically throw you in at the deep end. There’s only so much you can learn in six months at the Academy,” says the now 34-year-old.
“One of the things that I was really fortunate with was that I firstly had a mentor in Ian who had been in the game a while so he was really helpful for any questions I had in regards to assessments.
“And then I had Dan, the pro shop manager who moved into the General Manager’s role during my traineeship, who had worked for Mizuno Golf as a state rep in WA for 20 years so the merchandising and the sales aspect of the traineeship.
“It was like it was all covered. I had a mentor close to me for every aspect that I could possibly need.
“It helped that I was a mature-age trainee – I was 30 when I started – so a Head Professional role wasn’t going to be as daunting as it might be for a 21 or 22-year-old coming straight out of a traineeship.
“It was always pencilled as part of the succession plan and I’m lucky in that both Dan and Ian are around so I can go to them at any time with any questions I might have.”
Applications for the 2021/22 Membership Pathway Program will be open in July. Head to pga.org.au for more information.