PGA News

Sarah Bennett to become PGA Captain in 2022

Sarah Bennett will follow in the footsteps of her close friend and mentor Beverley Lewis when she becomes the second female to captain The PGA.

Bennett, 51, is the head teaching professional at Three Rivers Golf & Country Club, Essex, and will succeed Bernard Gallacher as the Association’s Captain in 2022.

“This is the proudest moment in my golfing career,” said Bennett, who holds Fellowship status of The PGA. “The news came totally out of the blue and was a shock.

“I was preparing to play in the WPGA Championship when I found out. I received a voicemail from PGA Chairman Alan White after my practice round. 

“I returned his call immediately, my initial thought was it was tournament-related, he then told me the news. I was stunned but I am extremely honoured, humbled and immensely proud to captain this historic Association.

“Being appointed Captain-Elect of The PGA had never been on my radar or something I had ever considered. So following in the footsteps of legends in the game is something I will cherish forever and I will do my upmost to continue to promote golf in its entirety and grow women’s golf at all levels of the game.

“As a PGA Professional you strive to be the best you can and advance your career, offering the best for your clients and members. Having those three letters after your name demonstrates dedication and commitment. I have always enjoyed the challenge and hard work having so much respect for this organisation since I first became a Member in 1990.”

Beverley Lewis became the Association’s first female Captain in 2005. She coached Bennett as a junior and the two remained close friends until Lewis sadly passed away last year aged 71 after a long fight against leukaemia.

“It means so much to me personally following in the footsteps of my role model Beverley Lewis,” Bennett continued. “If it wasn’t for ‘Bev’ I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“She used to coach me in her garden when I was 15 and we used to discuss my swing in her kitchen - I really tested her knowledge! She was always there for me as a mentor and friend, offering advice, support and encouragement during my career, especially when I was side-lined by illness for four years.

“I will have big shoes to fill following on from Bernard Gallacher, but I look forward to working alongside him as vice-captain in 2021, preparing for what will be the biggest role in my career.

“I am excited and can’t wait to commence my ambassadorial role representing the Association at major events on The PGA schedule.”

Bennett started her golfing journey at Colchester Golf Club where she turned professional. After being told she should not play golf again due to her sudden onset of Vesibular Impairment, which forced her out of work for four years, Bennett proved the medics wrong with years of rehabilitation, demonstrating her tenacity.

As well as being a dedicated and well-respected coach in Essex, a former under-18 East Regional England coach and Ladies European Tour player for 25 years, Bennett is well-known for the hours she devotes to helping the less fortunate. 

She won the Association’s Toby Sunderland Award in 2018, an accolade given annually to celebrate the many wide-ranging charitable achievements by PGA Professionals across Great Britain and Ireland.

Bennett’s work for charity over the years has included the Golf Fore Recovery initiative for wounded and sick Armed Forces personnel and Canine Partners. More recently, she lost her close friend, Wendy Lodder to Thymic Carcinoma, an extremely rare form of cancer, raising more than £20,000 to fund research into the disease.

Commenting on Bennett’s nomination as PGA Captain, the Association’s chief executive, Robert Maxfield, said: “Sarah was a unanimous choice to become Captain of The PGA in 2022.

“Throughout her career as a PGA Professional, Sarah has demonstrated her excellence as a coach and devoted a huge amount of time helping people of all ages, ability and background into the game.

“Sarah’s tireless voluntary and charity work make her a great role model for all PGA Professionals to look up to. She has been a loyal ambassador for the Association and I know she will prove to be a very popular and successful Captain.”

PGA launches 2020 Vision to help Members specialise and unite golf business 

The PGA has announced significant changes to its Membership structure, designed to reflect the changing role of PGA Professionals and the Association itself within the golf industry.

Following 18 months of consultation and planning, The PGA has revealed details of the new initiative, which sees the traditional PGA Professional Membership classification evolve into three clearly defined categories - PGA Professional, PGA Coach and PGA Manager - enabling Members to select a specialism that better reflects their role and area of expertise.

The 2020 Vision plan also sees the creation of two new industry Membership groups, called the Business Management Group and Club Volunteer by PGA, which will both be open to everyone who is either employed in the golf industry or working as a volunteer. With a clear aim of assisting in pulling the business of golf together for the good of the game, these groups will offer world-class support, education and networking services for everyone involved in golf.

“This is one of the most significant moments in the 119-year history of The PGA,” said Robert Maxfield, Chief Executive of The PGA. “We recognise that the golf industry and the way golf clubs are operated has changed. That’s why we’ve spent the last 18 months working hard to evolve our Membership structure so that our Members – and us as an organisation – remain relevant to golf in the 21st century.

“The PGA in 2020 needs to represent a very different model to that of The PGA of the last 20 years. By enabling present and future Members to specialise and develop further in their chosen areas, we are recognising and championing their expertise. 

“By bringing all those who work and volunteer in golf under the umbrella of The PGA, we’re positioning ourselves at the heart of the game for years to come. With the 2020 Vision we will be a membership of professionals across the business of golf rather than a membership of professional golfers.”

Acting on feedback from Members, which highlighted a desire to represent their areas of specialism and differentiate themselves from their peers, the new individual categories reflect the diverse roles fulfilled by PGA Professionals around the world and enable them to more accurately demonstrate their skills and influence.

The Business Management Group is about helping to support and develop the workforce of golf, whether employed in golf clubs, hotels, travel, operations, retail, equipment or any other golf business sectors. It is designed to give all of the people who make golf business happen the opportunity to join a professional body and be a part of what aims to become the leading industry network for knowledge sharing, networking and career development.

With the creation of a Club Volunteer category – aimed at those who support the running of golf clubs in the way that Governors contribute to schools - The PGA will provide specialist training and guidance, enabling volunteers to update skills, offer more to their club and align goals and aspirations with the professional workforce.

Applications for the new categories and membership groups will be accepted from November.

CLICK HERE to find out more about The PGA’s new initiative 2020 Vision.

PGA pro’s Swing Link is chest the job

Innovative golf pro Stuart Smith has invented a device to help golfers train their bodies to replicate a key aspect of the swing -– maintaining the connection between arms and body when playing any shot.

The device, SG Swing Link, features sweat bands that are worn on each bicep and link to a Velcro-strap that encircles the golfer’s chest. 

When a perfect swing is executed, the connection between the two is maintained. If not, the familiar ripping sound of the Velcro separating from its moorings is a real giveaway this hasn’t happened.

 “The main cause of poor shots is an inconsistent swing that is the result of a loss of connection between the golfer’s arms and body,” explains Smith, an Advanced PGA Professional based at Thetford Golf Club, Norfolk.

“The SG Swing Link’s strap and bands help the golfer keep their arms and body connected during the swing.

“A successful golf swing needs the body to work as one unit whether using a full swing to drive, pitching, chipping or putting. The SG Swing Link enables golfers to achieve that.”

Katie Rule (pictured), the youngest woman to attain Advanced PGA Professional status, has found the device helps her in both aspects of her career – playing and coaching.

“Swing Link is a great addition to my golfing armoury,” she says. “It’s ideal for my practice sessions and to help my students when I’m coaching.”

The SG Swing Link joins Smith’s stable of training aids that includes the SG Lagtastic and SG Pro Balls as well as his range of Heavenly Hybrid clubs. 

It costs £17.50 and is available online via www.stuartsmithgolfacademy.com.

For further information check out https://stuartsmithgolfacademy.com/our-current-event/