Ireland’s First Female PGA Captain, our esteemed colleague Gillian Burrell
Today, we interview our colleague Gillian Burrell, Director of Coaching at Carr Golf’s Play2LearnGolf, who has been appointed as the 2018 PGA Captain. The Athy Pro is the first woman to fill this role, and she succeeds Joe Frawley in the position. Play2LearnGolf is committed to the development of the game and delivers customer driven programmes to meet the needs of all golfers.
Gillian, explain why you chose your Captaincy theme as “Business of The Golf Professional”?
In the era of challenging times for the game a golf, I think the PGA professional is best placed as a skilled and knowledgeable person to help drive the game forward. The breath of their experiences within the business combined with their passion for the game should not be underestimated.
For most clubs, the Club Professional is the “face of the club”. He/she is eager to meet customer needs and without doubt can help the club with the promotion and development of their membership and facilities.
PGA Professionals have expanded their roles in the industry from coaching and retail to operations, member recruitment and retention, club management and consultancy. With this range of expertise, clubs would be foolish not to utilise these skills. Hence, I see the future of the business of golf being supported by ambitious golf professionals working hard to grow the game.
What will your standard day be like, with the Captaincy?
My standard day particularly when attending our PGA Irish Regional events will involve meeting with Tournament sponsors and continuing the work of my predecessors which involves building and maintaining relationships with these companies. There are about 45 domestic events, sometimes two in the one week so I expect to spend a considerable time in the car this year.
I would also like to promote the work of the PGA Professional at the clubs where the tournament is hosted. A lot of the work is unseen and the range of activities involved in the PGA Job description is vast. Sometimes these go unrecognised.
I am struggling at present with a wrist injury so I probably won’t play a lot of golf but I am greatly looking forward to getting out to meet the golfers playing in these events. If we didn’t have their support, our events calendar wouldn’t look as healthy as it does at present.
The first female Captain of the Irish Region – are you seeing more female PGA Professionals?
I was the first female to complete my PGA Training (1996) in Ireland and since then another 21 have joined me. They play a variety of roles within the profession just the same as the guys do. However, we need more women in the profession to encourage female participation in the game. I’m afraid golf still suffers from the image of a game played by middle aged, middle class men and realistically we need to dispel that myth. In Ireland only about 20% approx. of our registered members are women whereas in Slovenia, 45% is female. This impacts on the junior membership levels as women generally look after 75% of the household spend. In other words, if more young women play golf, it is more likely their children will become involved.
What is your goal as Captain?
My goal as Captain is to help promote the very strong PGA brand. I want to let more people know about not just the playing skills of our members but the business and coaching skills which can help drive the business of golf and help grow the game.
Thanks Gillian. The very best of luck to you this year. It’s always a pleasure!