Paul Burley has been awarded PGA Master Professional status in recognition of his wide-ranging achievements in the golf industry.
The Singapore-based 54 year old is IMG’s global head of golf course management and course design, which includes overseeing a large international portfolio of world class golf courses. Burley, who hails from Hull, described the accolade in the latest APAL (Accreditation for Professional Achievement and Learning) awards as one of the highlights of his career.
“It’s an honour to receive PGA Master Professional status and have my name added to a small, elite group of PGA Professionals,” he said. “I’m very proud to be a PGA Member and have actively promoted hiring PGA Members throughout my career, and certainly in my time at IMG and as Director of Golf at Turnberry I’ve always surrounded myself with high-performing PGA pros.”
Like many PGA Members, it was a passion for playing that lured Burley into golf and as a talented amateur he turned pro in 1985 and gained a card on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. However his career was to take a twist courtesy of an invitation he couldn’t refuse from one of golf’s greatest ever players.
“I quickly realised I was going to be more successful focusing on the business side of golf than playing the game for a living,” he said. “Luck has certainly played an important part in the success of my career in golf. While playing in South Africa, through a good friend I got to know Gary Player and was offered the opportunity by his company to become head pro at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City in 1987.
“That was my first job in the golf business – it was a slightly unusual way to start out and it was a steep learning curve, but I was there for nine years and went on to manage both golf courses at the resort. During that time I joined the British PGA and went through the training programme while based in South Africa. Sun City is a high profile, very busy resort so I had to learn quickly.”
Burley is a great advocate of continuous learning and also believes having a good mentor can be a vital asset for anyone starting out in golf. “It’s always good to have someone who you can turn to for advice. My boss at Sun City was Mike Leemhuis who went on to become CEO of Congressional Country Club and President of the Club Managers Association of America. He’s an incredibly well-respected guy and is a great person to be able to talk to whenever I need advice.
“From a personal development point of view, I never stop learning and I read a lot of international golf industry publications, attend various golf conferences, trade events and importantly spend time with people who are successful in the golf industry. It is important in my role, which is a global position, to keep on top of what is going on in the golf business. That is a never ending process, and I am continually looking for new opportunities for IMG’s golf course management and course design businesses. I talk to a lot of people and ask a lot of questions – I am notorious for that.”