Over the past twelve months Swiss golf has seen drastic changes, on the golf course and off it. In a recent newsletter published by the PGA of Switzerland, their President Keith Marriott, delves into the changes that have been seen across the country and how this sets up the sport nicely going into the future…
During its annual general meeting, the former ASG changed its name to Swiss Golf and the roles of public golf organisations were more clearly defined and integrated into the national association. Swiss Golf, alongside ASGI (Association Suisse des Golfeurs Indépendants) and Migros GolfCard, have also created a common sports fund – Supporting Golf Together. Each of the three major players contribute CHF 500,000 per year to the national golf game to help it grow.
The Swiss PGA also benefits from the Supporting Golf Together Funds. Swiss PGA President Keith Marriott: “The Pro is the prime contact for a newcomer to a club or a public golf organization. The Swiss PGA Pros thus play an important role in recruiting new members.
“In addition, a Pro can make a significant contribution to making a golfer feel comfortable and to retain him/her as a member of the club. These facts had slipped a bit out of sight in the past.
“Meanwhile, both the members of the Swiss PGA and those responsible in the Swiss golf clubs and associations are aware that the role of a Pro is not just limited to golf lessons and so our Professionals have to be educated. Therefore, the annual contribution of CHF 180,000 out of the Supporting Golf Together Fund supports the Swiss PGA in continuing its efforts to provide the Swiss PGA Pros with all the necessary skills and knowledge.”
“The Swiss PGA has already focused on education and training in the past and has invested a lot of work in these areas. Our three-year comprehensive apprenticeship programme is constantly reviewed and adapted to the current needs of the golf market, which we received international recognition for when The Confederation of Professional Golf honoured it with its highest possible certification – Gold Standard ” explains Keith Marriott.
What also pleases the Swiss PGA President is the fact that the excellent training of the Swiss PGA professionals is already bearing fruit: “It is quite simple: the better educated the golf instructor, the better the golf lessons and the greater the chances that young golfers will reach a level that will allow them to compete internationally at the top.
“The victory of the Swiss men in the Amateur European Team Championship and the associated promotion to the first division is the latest example in a series of success stories.”
But the Swiss PGA wants to consistently progress. “In order to ensure the highest quality education and training, we must invest continuously and stay focused,” says Keith Marriott. “The financial contribution from Supporting Golf Together Funds is not a donation. The Swiss PGA provides valuable additional services with additional education and training modules focused on current strategic topics” says Marriott.
The perspective of the Swiss PGA is shared by the three contributing organizations and their representatives in the Supporting Golf Together Funds. “The work of the Swiss PGA Pros plays a key role in the promotion and development of golf in Switzerland – especially when it comes to creating new golfers,” says Swiss Golf Director Barbara Albisetti.
She is convinced that the Swiss PGA and its members will continue to shape the development of Swiss golf in the future. ASGI Secretary-General Pascal Germanier agrees: “We want to support the Swiss PGA and its members so that golf lessons in Switzerland will continue to be of high quality and that golf will be attractive to more and more people. The contribution from the general sports fund is not sponsoring, the CHF 180,000 must be earmarked for education and training and promote the development of golf in Switzerland.”
The Swiss PGA, Swiss Golf, ASGI and Migros GolfCard are also in agreement that the training and further education of Pros should focus more on marketing and club management in the future. “It’s already the case today that our Pros are actively helping to attract new golfers and motivate them to join a club or public golf organization. Our training and further education courses are no longer just golfing techniques. In the future we will place even more emphasis on strengthening the ‘soft skills’ of our members, says Keith Marriott.
These are words that are well received by partner organisations: “We maintain a good and constructive cooperation with the Swiss PGA and we are happy if we receive support from their members,” says Pascal Germanier. Hans-Peter Schild, Head of Migros GolfCard and Sponsoring Migros Golfparks, has a positive perspective on the development of Swiss golf recently: “The cooperation of all golf organisations in Switzerland has started well after the crisis and all parties are aware that we can achieve more together. Personally, I very much appreciate the open and honest communication between those responsible”.
In this sense, Schild expresses his wishes to the Swiss PGA: “Ten percent of Swiss PGA Pros are employed by Migros and work in our golf parks. They generate 90 percent of Migros GolfCard’s new members – a percentage that has remained stable over the last few years.
“I would be delighted if Swiss PGA Pros in the future act more neutral about the offer of public golf organisations and therefore assure a good turnover of newcomers who do not want to join a private club.”
In addition to the support from the common sport fund, the Swiss PGA receives additional funds from Swiss Golf to promote professional tournaments in Switzerland. Migros Golfparks supports the Swiss PGA logistically by providing premises for training and further education events as well as for tournaments.