As a Section Officer, how would you go about engaging the grassroots golf professional to be involved in the PGA Chapter, Section and National organizations?

The answer to this question lies in effective Professional Development and Mentoring programs. These directives have always been passions of mine. If you look at my past work within the Oregon Chapter and PNW Section, you will see that my track record is strong in both of these categories.

Currently, I chair the Membership/Mentoring Committee for our Section. I’ve also worked very hard in developing young apprentices with more detailed Orientations and our new Apprentice Mentoring Program. I firmly believe that we must do what we can as leaders to motivate Apprentices and PGA Professionals to PLAY, TEACH and PROMOTE the game as much as possible. I understand the need of involvement and the duty we have as Professionals to give back and safeguard our chosen profession. Engagement must not be thought of as an option but as a must.

If you ask “Grassroots Professionals” like Chris Runyan of the Inland Empire Chapter, Matt Brown of the Oregon Chapter, Justin Roberts of the Montana Chapter, Sara Griffin of the Western Washington Chapter and Jason Aichele of the Central Washington Chapter what engagement has done for them, both personally and professionally, my guess is that they all will tell you that their success is directly related to their involvement in National, Section and Chapter activities.

Encouragement needs to start early. Our Apprentice Orientations and Apprentice Mentoring Programs should focus on active participation and how it relates to success. New Professionals must be informed, educated and motivated. While our current process isn’t broken, I would like to continue working with the Mentoring and Education Committee to develop a “participation blueprint” that is given to each Apprentice following his/her orientation.  When they finish their orientation it should be crystal clear as to not only how to get involved but why involvement is crucial to their success and the success of the golf business.

Time and energy are words often used when Professionals answer why they don’t get involved. While a legitimate excuse, our Section and Chapter leadership must play an active role in encouraging the grassroots Professional to become engaged. Sometimes a gentle nudge or a word of encouragement is all that might be needed to call someone to action. My own involvement in my association began this way. A simple nominating or selection committee could work towards identifying future board members or committee members, while a list of active Mentors developed by our Education, Mentoring, Player Development and Tournament Committees could help inspire the grassroots Professional to teach more, play more, or find the time to become involved in a national program like PGA Junior League. Pairing mentors with disengaged Professionals could go a long way in elevating participation levels in both programs and governance. We are beginning this process in the Oregon Chapter and we are excited to realize future returns.

As I stated last article, our Section recently started to redefine the mission and scope of our 6 Section committees. I believe we need to hold each Chapter also accountable to do the same. Chapters need to be aligned with our Section. While the needs of each Chapter differ, the need to grow the game of golf is the same. Programs, Committees and Board Members should be clearly posted on each chapter website. How can we expect our Professionals to get involved if they don’t even know what options are available to them? When I looked today, many of our chapter websites were incomplete and lacked the necessary information to inform or motivate Professionals. As your next Section Secretary I will work with each of our 5 chapters in making sure programming is clearly defined, easy to identify and consistent from our Section to each of the five chapters.

To summarize, I believe that it is the duty of our Section leadership to inspire, inform, educate and motivate each one of you. This should begin the moment a new Professional registers as an apprentice and should continue throughout our professional careers. Programs must be highly visible and the barriers to entry must be minimal. We must cultivate leaders and promote our successes. Maybe most importantly, we must change our culture of thinking that engagement is not optional but a duty we have to ourselves, one another, and to the game of golf.

Sean Fredrickson, PGA