Golf Industry Seeing “Tiger Woods Wave Number 2” In Alberta

By Gord Montgomery, Senior Writer, Inside Golf

CALGARY, Alberta — Like the influx of people hitting the links in the recent past, the number of new faces in pro shops across Alberta is also rising dramatically. On both counts, the executive director of the PGA of Alberta is enthused.

“There is a lot of interest in the golf industry, as you know. It’s been a really good run. We refer to it as the Tiger Woods Wave Number 2!” exclaimed Robert Rouselle in a phone interview. “There are a lot more players, a lot more excitement around the sport, and in the mix, the PGA of Canada is setting up the educational requirements for young people to advance in the industry.

Back in the day when Canadian colleges offered golf management programs, it was necessary to get certified in Business Management. Since those academic pursuits no longer exist, the education requirements to enter the field as a club professional have changed, Rouselle explained.

“You need to finish high school, but after that, the education is provided through the PGA of Canada. The entry point is in which hopefuls must also pass a PAT (Playing Ability Test)” to achieve status. “Those, too, have changed over time. Before, they had to play for two days. Now they only need to play one day,” Rouselle continued. “The entire industry has changed drastically. The club professional was always the focus but now it’s changed to the general manager, the teaching pro. The club pro is highly valued still, but there are a lot of components that cover the entire golf industry that the PGA of Canada can cover now.”

One of the interesting sidetones of the pro shop staff growth is that more females are looking to be part of the industry. While those numbers are rising, they could be better, Rouselle noted.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an influx equal to the male side but there is a growth on the ladies’ side that is amazing to see. We want more ladies in the sport and we want more ladies as golf professionals. They have an amazing place in the industry. We’re seeing growth (but) we can’t only look at growth; we need to figure out a way to retain the ladies. You see ladies at this point as head professionals, general managers, at every level,” meaning that more are welcome to join the industry.

At this point, golf courses try their best every day to accommodate everyone and not turn paying players away. As such, there may be a tipping point for the PGA of Alberta when it comes to the number of golf professionals the local association can handle but that has yet to happen.

“Not at this point,” Rouselle said of having to stifle the rise in club professionals. “I think growth is positive. The difference that we’re seeing right now is part of growth. We’re probably one of the associations with the most general managers in the country. At the club professional end, we need a lot more pros to service the centres and to service properly the rural sector,” meaning at present, there is always room for more young people to start a career in the golf industry regardless of their hoped-for position.

Becoming a Class A golf professional takes six years so it is a long run. At the same time, it’s an industry that has open arms for interested applicants, who have both a love for the game and the skill in the game looking to become part of a quickly growing industry.