PGA Pro Martin Dewhurst has worked in five different countries. He shares with GOLF RETAILING his experiences and offers advice to pros thinking about making a change.
For someone who has worked in five different countries as a golf pro, Martin Dewhurst’s introduction to travelling the world happened by accident. He was working in the pro shop of The Bristol Golf Club when someone entered wanting to talk to members of a college that practised at the club to sign them up to a summer camp programme in America. Dewhurst ended up having a chat with him and became convinced; that summer he spent three months in America and greatly enjoyed the experience. He had caught the travelling bug and decided that he wanted to work abroad.
“I got to the stage where I was emailing every golf club I could find online applying for jobs,” he recalls. “In one month I must have emailed around 60 places. This was in my first year of training and I applied for an assistant’s job in Austria at GolfRange Tuttendoerfl and I was fortunate to get the job. I went out there when I was 20 years old, so quite young when I left. I worked there for five years and then I was offered a job at Fontana Golf and Sport Club, Vienna, Austria, which hosted the European Tour for many years and was renowned as one of the better golf courses in Europe.”
It was at his first role in Austria that Dewhurst feels that he developed as a pro and he says that, “As a professional I have been fortunate to be around a lot of good coaches and at Tuttendoerfl I was around seven knowledgeable and experienced guys who used to help me a large amount – that’s where I learned most of my trade.” Dewhurst – like all good pros – is always striving to improve and still has lessons himself, including with Clive Tucker who coaches Graeme McDowell and David Howell among others. He says that working with people like Tucker helps him learn and improve, something that working abroad has also done.
Having worked in so many different countries, just what are the differences between them in terms of golf and the culture? “All of the countries that I have worked in are all very different,” he answers. “The Greeks are very laid back and the Germanic culture in Austria was very organised and more regimented. It took some time to adapt to those, but what you realise after you have been to all these places is that everyone is different and as long as you can accept that then you will enjoy wherever you live.
“You do need different skills depending on where you work – when I was in Austria I was much younger and you had to be very organised and punctual and the clients often wanted something very structured, whereas in Greece it was a bit more relaxed. In Austria it was a more developed country for golf, although not as developed in England, so you did see more people who had never picked up a golf club in their life. In Greece the people there really hadn’t seen golf before, and some people didn’t even know who Tiger Woods was, so it was more behind the times golf wise.”
After working in Austria his next move to rack up the air miles was to Greece before a stop at a private island in the Maldives (a tough job, but someone’s got to do it) then back to Greece before his current role at Al Zorah Golf Club, Ajman, where he is working as head pro. He says it is an exciting time to be there as in the state of Ajman it is the first golf course, so himself and his team are at the forefront of trying to grow the game there. Based around 40 minutes outside of Dubai the club is trying to attract the tourist crowd but is also focusing on getting locals into the game.
“We are hoping to really enter the market of the local people and get them and their kids out playing; we will be going out to schools and local businesses and getting them to play some golf, which will be exciting for the club and the region. It has got a lot of local people talking and very interested, so I think we will do well with the locals coming to play and attracting new golfers,” he says.
Dewhurst is currently performing what he calls the ‘traditional’ role of a golf pro at the moment, getting involved in all aspects of the club. “I am teaching some lessons and also looking at the management side and the running of the business. I’m doing a little bit of everything, which is what I really enjoy.”
When asked what advice he would give to anyone thinking about working abroad, he answers with no hesitation: “The biggest thing is, if you want to go abroad then you have to learn the language. Obviously it doesn’t matter as much if you go to somewhere like Dubai which is English speaking, but if you go to Russia or Spain or somewhere else then it will help you get a job so much if you speak the language. I’ve seen many jobs being advertised and always the big thing is, regardless almost of CV, if someone has the language of the country where the job is, then they are always ‘in’ for the job. If you want to go to all these new golfing countries where the game is growing then you need to speak the local language.”
His final point is one that applies to all pros, no matter where they work. “It’s also vital to love the game of golf; I think you should love playing it as that rubs off on the people around you. I’ve met too many golf pros who say that they don’t play anymore as they don’t enjoy it, which to me is not a great way to be if you want to do well in the industry. The last thing is just to be as qualified as you can be and be up to date with all the latest trends. As the golf market is not increasing at the rate everyone wants you need to try to have a selling point.”