Former leading female amateur golfer Julie Otto has won the Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year award after switching to the professional ranks. Otto, based at Elie Sports Centre in Fife, achieved it while also juggling work at the club and being a mum to three young children.
The 48-year-old, who had a glittering amateur career including five Curtis Cup appearances, captaining England at the World Amateur Team Championships in 2008 and winning the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship in 1990 and 1995, said she was ‘chuffed’ at her latest honour.
Otto was recognised at the PGA’s Annual Graduation ceremony at the University of Birmingham. She was presented with the prestigious Whitcombe Cox trophy and a cheque for £3,500 by Titleist brand director Matthew Johnson and guest of honour Richard Hills, Ryder Cup director.
In addition, she also claimed the LET-sponsored Beverly Lewis Trophy and £1,750 for being the top female assistant, while she was the best performer in the golf coaching exams, securing a state-of-the-art package from PGA Official Supplier GASP Systems, and also topped the Golf Pride sponsored equipment technology module.
Otto, whose husband Steve is the director of Research and Testing for the R&A, now intends to focus on coaching. She said, “I feel a huge sense of achievement as I’m not the youngest at 48 and have done it as a mother of children aged ten, eight and six. I’m at a very different stage of my life and maybe it was an odd thing to do. It was about four years ago when the thought struck what will I do when the kids go to school and so I took the decision to be a professional and teach golf. I played for a long time and I didn’t do it earlier because I was quite a big fish in the amateur game and that always was too much to give up.
“It has been hard, don’t get me wrong. Retaining information is certainly not the same. There were times during the three years when you think about just walking away, but then I’m driven and it was about getting through it.”
Dutchman Hiddo Uhlenbeck, head professional at Kennemer Golf Club was second with Chart Hills’ Nicholas Olson third. Middlesbrough Mun’s Sean Kay was top of Year Two while reigning PGA Assistants’ Champion Gareth Davies won the Rookie Award.
The PGA training programme, encompassing the three year Foundation Degree, was founded more than 50 years ago and covers all aspects of golf including business, equipment technology and repairs, rules and tournament organisation, sports science and sports psychology.