Skiing and winter sports are perhaps more synonymous with Austrian culture and ways of life. Or are they? With a vastly developing membership, extensive member service offering and a growing enthusiasm for the sport in general, the PGA of Austria is growing the game extensively, in a country known more for its mountains than it is for its municipals.
The CPG chatted to PGA of Austria President, Matthias Mezei, about the association, its current goals and driving motivations for the future of the sport in the country…
TB: What does golf look like in Austria?
MM: Currently, there are 156 golf facilities in Austria, servicing the 100,000 active golfers in the country (which out of a population of juts 8,000,000, is really good!).
From research, there is an estimated 700,000 extra people in the country who are interested in trying and playing golf, for which we continue to target our activity towards.
Like most countries, we have strong amateur federation that have close links to various golf facilities across the country and the PGA itself. These inter-organisational ties only strengthen our collaborative efforts and work across the country, which ultimately benefits the golfers themselves.
Such work includes a youth golf league, golf in schools and adult golf leagues, all of which are proving successful but as with most grassroots programmes, more can always be done. The PGA of Austria constantly strives to better itself and its work for the benefit of golf in the country.
TB: Tell me more about the PGA of Austria? It clearly plays a huge role in the development of the game in Austria…
MM:We are actually celebrating the 40th anniversary of the PGA of Austria, which is a huge and significant milestone!
With over 350 members, the association continues to develop and grow its membership, through various activities. These include education and training programmes of prospective and current members, the organisation of a national tournament schedule and implementing a developed marketing and communications plan with both the federation and the general public – this is a key part of delivering messages about the PGA Member being an expert in the game, and that they are somebody’s first point of contact for dining out more about the sport.
By identifying a key target market mentioned previously, we believe we are maximising the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns across the country, and ultimately the overall growth of the Austrian game.
TB: So with a steadily growing membership, your members are working across the country. What sort of roles do they fulfil?
MM: Around 85% of PGA of Austria members are currently coaching, predominantly in a traditional club environment on a daily basis. From there, the rest are predominantly full time players, playing PGA of Austria events and other schedules for a living.
Whilst there are a limited amount of PGA Members working in managerial and business-focused roles currently, the PGA of Austria and Federation have identified this as a key area to focus on, and will continue to develop with future activity and education programmes.
TB: Why do you value being a Confederation of Professional Golf Member Country?
MM: Initially, being a part of the CPG was crucial to involve the organisation within the collective network of more established PGAs at the time. This provided us with insight and understanding to learn from and develop.
More recently, this view has evolved along with the size of the organisation, whereby we engage with various work alongside the CPG. For example, engaging in the EELS programme, the CPG Annual Congress and other development activities have all benefited the organisation and its members, and it is hugely valued to be able to be a part of.
TB: What direction do you see the association, and golf in Austria heading in over the next few years?
MM: We are currently working on developing a closer relationship with the Austrian golf federation, to help better channel financial resource and activity into growing the game.
We are also looking to form closer ties with other PGAs. For example, our relationship with the PGA of Germany could spell huge benefit for Austrian golf because it will enable better access to new partners, information sharing, identifying target audiences and a growth in our tournament schedule.
By doing both, we believe we can offer greater educational possibilities to our current members, encourage an increased number of golfers within Austria and develop stronger ties with neighbouring countries.