Sam Lee has just graduated from the NZPGA Post Graduate Programme, becoming an Advanced NZPGA Professional.
Sam was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1992. He started golf at an early age but due to the lack of popularity of golf at the time and limited access to facilities, his family decided to emigrate to New Zealand in 2003.
Sam began his golf in New Zealand at Helensville Golf Club, on the northern outskirts of Auckland. From there he spent some time as a member at Peninsula Golf Club before settling in at North Shore, where North Harbour junior golf was based.
During these years he played well enough to earn himself a three-year scholarship to Wentworth College where he would meet NZPGA member, mentor, and current colleague, Mike Duncumb.
In 2011 Sam went along to NZPGA Q School where he would miss his card by a couple of shots. This was a blessing in disguise as it led to him down the education path. He began a marketing and management degree through the business school at Auckland University.
While completing this he continued to play amateur golf - competing in national events and representing North Harbour. In 2014, Dominic Sainsbury introduced Sam to the possibility of becoming an NZPGA professional through the traineeship programme. Later that year Sam relocated to Rotorua Golf Club to begin his traineeship under NZPGA member Anthony Barkley.
An opportunity to reconnect with Mike Duncumb presented itself in mid-2016 when Wainui Golf Club opened. Sam continued his traineeship while taking the lead in junior coaching, pennant team coaching, and She Loves Golf.
He completed the required education to graduate as an AA member, the highest qualification which can be achieved through the traineeship. Sam played a part in bringing and Australian Tour event to New Zealand, in the form of the Rebel Sport Masters, in January 2018. It also gave him the opportunity to see how big events were run. This sparked an interest in how he could learn even more about the golf industry.
By 2019 Sam was ready for a new challenge. Once again, with help from Dominic Sainsbury, Sam discovered the NZPGA Post Graduate Programme. By now, Sam had developed an interest in governance, management, and finance. Of the two avenues to go down, Sam chose the Small Business and Facility Management route.
Over the next two years Sam completed the 18 modules - including a final research paper on effective business strategies. During this time, he also completed his Level One TPI certification.
“I am passionate about continued education and personal development. I feel like I am achieving small things each day, and looking back gives me a huge sense of accomplishment,” said Sam.
“I appreciate the NZPGA for accepting me into the traineeship and helping me continue my education. I’m happy and available to help if anyone wants to know about my time through the programme. I learnt a lot from my mentor and would love to give back to others looking to further their education.”