How to turn Pro

Becoming a Qualified PGA Professional

A golfer who becomes a professional by following the PGA Academy Trainee Programme has the opportunity not only to play at professional level, but also to pursue a career as a qualified coach, club repair expert, and sales and fitting retailer.

The PGA of New Zealand runs a Trainee Programme in conjunction with existing fully qualified PGA members. Of three years duration, the programme is available to any golfer - male or female - who wish to become fully qualified PGA Professional. Before starting on such a programme however they must meet the PGA's demanding eligibility requirements.

During their three years of training, which is spent as an apprenticeship in the employment of a fully qualified PGA Professional at an approved golf course or driving range, Trainees receive valuable on-the-job training and experience. Through attendance at PGA Schools and workshops, they learn the theory and practice of teaching the golf swing, acquire skills in club fitting and repair and the management of a business.  At the same time they are required to demonstrate that their own game is improving by participation in regular trainee match days, and meeting an annual playing standard.


During their Traineeship Trainees will study subjects under the following categories:

  • The Golf Swing, and how to coach and teach.The most important part of a Club Professional's work is coaching the golf swing and improving player performance.The trainee examines coaching and teaching methods, and learns how to use modern teaching aids and techniques in the most effective way.
  • Golf Science, which imparts an understanding of human anatomy and biomechanics, and their impact on the golf swing.
  • Golf Specific Psychology
  • Club Design, Construction and Repair. While few golf Professionals nowadays make clubs, they do need to understand their construction in order to be able to offer a first class fitting and repair service. The rapid evolution of technology in the design and construction of golf clubs presents a constant challenge to the Club Professional.
  • Retail Theory: specific to the golf business.
  • Event and Tournament Management: promotion and management of events, from corperate golf days to club events and running and staging of Professional golf competitions
  • Business Management Programme: he purpose of this course is to ensure that graduates from the PGA Training Programme will have the expertise to enable them to survive and prosper in the modern economic world in a golf specific business sense. The golf management programme is built into each years level of study.

Three training schools are held during each year of training covering theoretical assignments and practical examinations to assess the progress of the trainee.

Prior to graduation the Trainee is also required to gain areas of competence from two external bodies: 

  • Comprehensive Workplace First Aid Certificate - a two day course - delivered by Red Cross or St. Johns.  
  • Class A or B Rules Badge from the New Zealand Golf Association. Seminars and examinations are conducted by District Golf Associations.


Although Club Professionals do not normally play a lot of competitive golf they are expected to be able to demonstrate playing ability, and tournament play is an important part of the PGA's Trainee Programme. Each year a Trainee is required to return twenty tournanment cards, the best 80 per cent of these must show a playing standard over par of 5.5 or better each year.

Trainee Professionals are encouraged to enter and play in PGA of New Zealand conducted Pro-Am tournaments where eligible.


To be eligible for acceptance into the PGA Trainee Programme you need to:

  1. Applicant must hold New Zealand Residency at the time of application;

  2. Be at least 18 years old during the year of application;

  3. Have attained a minimum standard of three School Certificates (or recognised School Certificate equivalents) or attained Level 1&2 NCEA or able to provide documentation demonstrating relative work experience;

  4. Produce evidence of playing ability. You must have an official handicap no higher than 3 for men, 5 for women, and demonstrate your ability in a playing test conducted by the PGA as part of the Aptitude Assessment Day;

  5. Attend an Aptitude Assessment Day;

Note: In exceptional circumstances applicants with relevant qualifications may apply for these to be accepted as recognised prior learning in lieu of some of the requirements found within the PGA Training Programme. This does not apply to playing, in which the required standard must be attained each year.


Trainee Professionals will lose their amateur status once beginning training as a "Trainee Professional" as of the 1st of February in Year One of training. A Trainee who subsequently leaves the programme will be in limbo, neither a Professional nor an amateur and amateur status can only be regained on application to the New Zealand Golf Association.


All traineeships start on 1st February each year. The first two steps are to apply to the PGA to attend an Aptitude Assessment Day, and to gain employment with a fully qualified member of the PGA of NZ who is prepared to put a Trainee through the programme. Closing date for applications is the 31st August each year for a start on the 1st of February of the following year.

The Aptitude Assessment Day (which includes a round of golf) is held in September or October in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch according to the location of a majority of applicants. In order to start a Traineeship, successful applicants who have not already done so must then find employment with a fully qualified PGA of NZ Professional before the 15th of January in the designated year you begin training as a PGA Trainee.

Documents which must be submitted with the application include birth certificate, school certificates or NCEA Results notice or Certificate, evidence of any relevant work history (if applicable), handicap certificate and playing statement for the previous twelve months from the applicant's home club. In addition two references must be provided, and the names of two qualified PGA members other than the intended employer as referees. The application must include a handwritten letter explaining why the applicant wishes to become a golf professional.

Applicants who are accepted into the Trainee Programme will be required to sign a PGA Trainee Agreement in addition to their Contract of Employment.

Applications are now open for the 2020 year; please download the following form, complete and return to the PGA.

PGA Trainee Application Form 2020


The PGA of New Zealand is a non-profit organisation, and fees are charged to cover the costs of administration and the provision of books and other services. The initial, non-refundable, Application Fee for 2018(2019 intake) is $300.00 including GST. The trainee fee for 2019 has been set at $4,400+ GST and excludes all travel and accommodation expenses and the retail business management administration fee as incurred each training year. The annual trainee fee charged is reviewed and set by the Board each year.

For further information please call (09) 488 6617 , or e-mail the Education Manager of the PGA, josh.longney@pga.org.nz 

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