Saturday 28th August 2021 – Vol 001 Edition 00011
by Jim Campbell
A Club Pro is a professional golfer based at a golf club to provide services to members and guests which include teaching, looking after member’s competitions and the golf shop.
Edition 11 of my series ‘A Day in the Life of’ is about PGA golfer Sean Cotter, based at The Academy at the Mount Juliet Estate in Kilkenny.
Sean is part of a team of three professional golfers at the Academy. The other two PGA golfers are Matt Sandercock and Brian Doheny. I met up with Sean at The Academy recently.
Sean Cotter, a native of Celbridge in Co. Kildare, is PGA professional golfer at the Mount Juliet Estate since 2002.
During his first year, Sean was on hand to observe and learn from the world’s greatest players as they competed on the Mount Juliet Estate course for the American Express World Championships.
The Kilkenny-based golf pro began playing the game at the age of fourteen. As you would expect in Kildare, Sean was a keen Gaelic Football player, playing for his local club Celbridge.
“I never thought of playing golf, let alone becoming a Club Pro”
“I was late enough starting by modern standards; I was fourteen. I got into golf because we lived next door to my grandparents on a small farm. My two uncles, who were decent club golfers, built a driving range beside us. I thought to myself, ‘wow, what is that?’
“I was late enough starting by modern standards;
“I was fourteen. I got into golf because we lived next door to my grandparents on a small farm. My two uncles, who were decent club golfers, built a driving range beside us.
A driving range, I thought to myself, ‘wow, what is that?’ I was thirteen, and I wasn’t into golf at the time.
“I went to get a few lessons, and wasn’t making much progress at first. Then it clicked; after a slow start, I was getting good at it quickly. Then I just got hooked on it.”
That is when the dream started for Sean and the end to his playing days with the Celbridge Gaelic Football Club.
“In the morning, we prepare for upcoming classes. We cater to all standards and customers, including members, visitors, and hotel guests. We also do junior group coaching, and ‘Ladies Get Into Golf’ programs.”
Member’s competitions on Sundays
On weekends, the Kildare man oversees looking after member’s competitions. “Mainly here on a Sunday, we have members coming here for organised competitions, we run them and produce the results.”
A typical golf pro at a golf club provides a service for members and visitors, including coaching, retailing, club repairs, and members events.
Technology meets a passion for golf
At the Academy, the use of ‘Trackman,’ which analyses ball speed, angle attack, and swing path provides a lot of useful information to the golfer. It takes the guesswork out of teaching.
Sean also does ‘custom fitting’ – fitting shafts to everyone’s needs. He will build custom fitted golf clubs using heads and shafts from major brands.
What Sean likes about been a club pro is the idea of meeting people, whether it’s the long-time members, new people, or hotel guests.
“It’s different people every day.“
The apprenticeship for a Club Pro is three years. At the age of 21, Sean commenced his apprenticeship working with a professional based at the Youghal Golf Club in Co. Cork.
Sean attended the Belfry every year for his year examinations
After a year, he continued his training in The Hermitage Golf Club in Lucan, Co Dublin. He would attend the Belfry in the UK every year for the year one, year two, and year three examinations.
“Year Three is the final year’s exams.
The apprenticeship includes teaching, golf club repair, mechanising,
learning to look after member’s needs and competitions.
When you are qualified, you go looking for a job. I was based in Celbridge Golf Club in County Kildare for several years. I was lucky enough to get the post here in the Mount Juliet Estate in 2002.”
From 2002 to 2004, we were lucky to have the American Express World Championships in the Mount Juliet Estate. Tiger Woods was here that year. I was only here a month, and he arrived on a practice day.
“Nice place you have here” – Tiger Woods
“We all wanted to meet him. I was meeting him as the Club Pro. Tiger said to me, ‘nice place you have here’. The perfect start for the new club professional at the Mount Juliet Estate.”
Some advice from the Academy Club Pro to any young people wishing to become a professional golfer: “Get some coaching from a young age. Then get studying and get the qualifications you need. Always keep learning.”
My thanks to PGA Golfer Sean Cotter, Rev Conor O’Reilly and The Academy at the Mount Juliet Estate for their help and co-operation during this blog. Very much appreciated. JC
All Images and Original Text © All Rights Reserved-Jim Campbell 2021
About the author
Jim Campbell is an Irish photographer, freelancer and photojournalist. Campbell has being contemporary photographer for more than two decades.
A native of Wexford town in the south-east of Ireland, Campbell studied photography in the Dublin Institute of Technology before going to work with a newspaper.
Since 1998 he has been working with local and national papers in Ireland and the UK. His work has appeared in publications globally including newspapers, magazines and online publications.
In 2013 Campbell made his first of what would become many trips to the conflict areas of the world. To observe more on Jim’s work vist the link to his website below.