Due to Corona, the Swiss PGA’s General Assembly took place on September 14, instead of April.
The agenda included the election of the Board for the term of office 2020-2022, with President Keith Marriott, Vice-President Marc Chatelain, Captain Gianluca Patuzzo and Andrea Mantoan (apprentice training) confirmed in office. With Patrick Ruppen from Valais and Jonathan Wallett from Valais, two new forces were elected to the board. Ruppen replaces Markus Rath and takes over the finance department from him, Wallett succeeds Russell Warner as the person responsible for further training. Below, the two new board members introduce themselves.
Patrick Ruppen – Lawyer, notary, golf instructor
Patrick Ruppen is no stranger to Swiss golf: Even as a junior, the man from the Upper Valais drew national attention, represented Switzerland in the Boys national team and completed two professional training courses. On the one hand, he studied law, and on the other hand he completed the three-year training to become a certified Swiss-PGA golf instructor. Today he is a self-employed lawyer and notary public in Brig and works part-time as a golf instructor at the Source du Rhône Golf Club in the summer.
For the father of two small children, both professions are not just a livelihood, but a passion. “I enjoy my work in the office and I love to stand outside in nature and give golf lessons,” says Ruppen. The Valaisan knows that he couldn’t feed his family with golf lessons alone – the season is too short in Obergoms. But Patrick Ruppen loves golf, is the honorary president of the GC Source du Rhône and runs the pro shop.
The fact that he is now also available to serve on the board of the Swiss PGA is proof of his passion. “I’m 46 and have experienced a lot – in golf and in my job. I believe that I can make a difference for the Swiss PGA, I can add value,” says Ruppen.
In the association, he wants to contribute his knowledge and experience, because he has always felt comfortable in the Swiss PGA. Patrick Ruppen is a stroke of luck for the association; he has known the Swiss golf scene since he first hit the ball as a youngster on Riederalp. And he is a lawyer. “I am not only part of the board, but have also taken over the mandate of ‘Legal Advisor’ from Marc Hess and assist the members of the Swiss PGA in legal matters”, explains Ruppen.
Within the board of directors, he is responsible for finances. A key department. “The entire golf industry has lost sponsors due to the Corona pandemic, and our association is also facing major challenges in this regard”. This is despite the fact that the last few months have shown that golf can function even with rigorous protective measures.
“This can also be an opportunity for golf. Nevertheless, the Swiss PGA needs new ideas to secure the association’s finances in the medium and long term. Such ideas are available, but not yet ready for discussion.”
What Patrick Ruppen can already reveal are the goals he is pursuing with the Swiss PGA: “We must make our association better known to the public. The work of our members has to become more central in the clubs again, the Pros have to become more present. In addition, we should focus on our core competencies and make them visible”.
When asked where he sees the Swiss PGA in five to 20 years, Ruppen says: “Better anchored in the golfers’ consciousness. An independent professional association that represents both Playing and Teaching Pros and offers training at the proven high standard”.
Jonathan Wallett: Focus on juniors and managers
“The Swiss PGA training program launched by Paris Buckingham 15 years ago and continued by Richard Adby and Russell Warner was and is very good. I would like to continue their good work and further strengthen the existing valuable cooperation with Swiss Golf and J+S,” says Jonathan Wallett.
Jonathan Wallett lives with his young family in Crans-sur-Sierre and is active in three professional areas. On the one hand, his golf academies in Losone and Evian are open to golfers of all levels, on the other hand, Wallett organizes “Performance Camps” for elite amateurs (HCP 9 and better) in Crans and Evian, and last but not least, he looks after eight top players (professionals and amateurs) who play on the international stage.
This is a broad field of activity that gives the British professional a lot of experience, which he intends to bring to his job as the new Head of Further Education at the Swiss PGA: “I want to develop strategies to promote the cooperation of club pro, manager, president and junior captain in a way that everyone benefits from each other”.
Wallett has already thought about a corresponding further education project: “At the next board meeting I will present a junior promotion course. The important thing is: “Our club professionals should be enabled to build up an inspiring junior program in their clubs – from the ground up to coaching the elite players.
Wallett also wants to focus on the cooperation with the Swiss Golf Manager Association. Together they want to attract and retain more members for Swiss golf clubs in the long term. “It makes sense for club professionals to become involved in this area, as they are the ones who are in closest contact with the golfers – and can thus provide the decisive impetus for someone to become a member or remain loyal to the club for many years to come.”
Jonathan Wallett takes a positive view of the future of the Swiss PGA: “I believe the Swiss PGA can help shape the Swiss golf scene over the next five to 20 years. Most Swiss PGA members would have known this industry since childhood – now also from various angles. “They are not just ‘golf teachers’, they are experts in every aspect of golf in Switzerland,” says Wallett. This knowledge must be put to good use – in the clubs as well as on a national level, so that more people in Switzerland can enjoy “the great game of golf”. Wallett is confident that the Swiss will be as successful in golf internationally as they are in tennis and football.