I think our Association is one of the best in the world at preparing people for the career we have chosen. In my case, I was looking for a career move that would motivate and drive me. I knew I wanted to get into the golf industry, but I had no real idea of how to make that happen. Prior to moving to Bend, while living in Silicon Valley, I investigated and joined the United States Golf Teacher Federation. At the time, I thought all I wanted to do was teach and not be involved with day to day golf operations. Once I moved to Bend and got more serious about a golfing career, it became obvious that the best path was to pursue membership in the PGA of America. I was lucky and found a PGA professional willing to take a chance on me.

What the PGA provided me with was a structured program and path to membership. By following the path outlined in the PGM program, I was able to become a Class A quickly. The education provided by the PGA was foundational. When I became a member, I was ready to expand my responsibilities and take on new challenges. Within a year of gaining membership, I became the Head Professional for a 54-hole resort. While the education provided by the PGA gave me a solid foundation, the mentoring and coaching I received along the way from fellow PGA professionals was critical. My style of getting things done really didn’t lend itself to asking for help. However, when I reached out to PGA members for support and guidance, I found them eager to share their experiences and expertise. I have found this to be a characteristic of experienced professionals. They are more than willing to mentor when asked. I think we do a good job at mentoring, but we can do better.

The PGA has provided me with tremendous continuing education opportunities through a deep on-line education program. We are in a “learning revolution” and leaders must continue to learn and facilitate the learning of others. I think most of us underutilize that great asset. Check out the opportunities at our PGA website and click on education. How has this helped me? I have used these assets to continue to develop my skills as a professional. I have had the opportunity to be not only a Head Professional, but Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Development. In each of these roles, as diverse as they are, I felt ready to handle the challenges because I took advantage of the continuing education programs.

We have in our Section one of the best, if not the best, Education Committee. These professionals work tirelessly to develop and produce cutting edge education for us. These programs are a benefit to us as members. I think it’s important to think of these programs as continuous, not just as the end of the MSR cycle approaches.

Another asset the PGA has provided us with is the PGA Career Consultant. I have used this resource many, many times. If…

  • you wonder if your compensation is in line with the market.
  • you think it is time to expand your job opportunities, but don’t how to see what is available.
  • you find an opportunity, but aren’t sure about the culture or what the hiring officials might be looking for in a candidate.
  • you keep applying for jobs but don’t get an interview.

If you have experienced any of these, or similar situations, talk to your PGA Career Consultant who is a great resource to help you with those answers or provide guidance.

Lastly, the PGA gave me the chance to be a part of the first PGA Lead program. Just before our Association’s 100th anniversary, our senior leaders did some soul searching. Among the things they learned was that our association was not very diverse and not reflective of the golfing public, even at the leadership of the Chapter and Section level. While we have minorities and women in our association, not many were in leadership positions. I had the honor of being selected as one of fourteen out of over fourteen hundred nominees. The two-year program focused on educating us of the PGA, its history, leadership and future direction. Senior PGA leadership was fully engaged; they met with us and mentored us, as did past leaders. The “take away” is that this is our Association. Step up and get involved. In the first three LEAD classes, we have two members who have been elected Section Secretaries and several more who have been selected/elected to Chapter leadership or committee leadership roles. While the first program may have been focused on developing a different diversity profile, LEAD has evolved into what we had hoped it would become, a true leadership development program.

So, what has the PGA done for me? It provided me with a new career and training and education to be successful in this new career. It also has provided me, through training, education and mentorship, the opportunity to be ready and willing to become your Section Secretary.

Howie Pruitt, PGA
Director, Player Development/Head Golf Professional
Aspen Lakes Golf Club
Sisters, OR 97759
Director, Oregon Chapter, PGA of America
2017 Oregon Chapter, PGA of America, Patriot Award Winner