Wiltshire newly-wed Claire Burrows has had further cause for celebration after collecting the prestigious PGA Female Assistant of the Year award.
Beverly Lewis and Claire Burrows. Photo: Dave Warren.
Burrows, who tied the knot in February, picked up the Ladies European Tour-backed Beverly Lewis Trophy – named in honour of the PGA’s first female captain – and a cheque for £1,500 at the PGA’s graduation ceremony at the University of Birmingham on Friday April 20.
The 24-year-old, who is based at Chippenham Golf Club, admitted she was surprised to have secured the title, which followed the completion of the PGA’s three-year Foundation degree which equips graduates with a wide variety of skills and expertise for working in the golf industry.
“I was really shocked when I heard that I was the top female assistant – but it was a good surprise and it’s pleasing as it makes all the effort worthwhile,” said the former Wiltshire Ladies amateur.
“It’s been hard as you do the degree as well as working full time and coaching so it is all about good time management. You have to put a lot of effort in so it’s a case of getting the most out of it.”
Burrows, who admitted her wedding to husband Tim had been on hold until after her studies, began playing golf at the age of 10 having being frustrated walking round the local golf course with her dad and brother.
“I used to go with my brother to a driving range and have a knock but then Cumberwell Park in Bradford upon Avon opened and my dad and brother joined there,” she said.
“My mom’s a nurse so when she was at work I had to tag round with them. I got fed up just walking round with them and asked my dad when I could play!
“He said when I could hit a ball and knew how to conduct myself I could play, so I ended up having lessons with the head pro John Jacobs, who has been an absolutely brilliant coach.
“John helped me get my handicap down and encouraged me to take the PGA Foundation Degree as I knew I wanted to be a PGA professional.
“When the opportunity came up at Chippenham he encouraged me and since I’ve been at the club, I have been indebted to Bill Creamer, the head pro.
“When he offered me the job, any other plans I may have had went out of the window as it was a fantastic opportunity.”
The PGA training programme, which was founded more than 50 years ago, concentrates on all aspects of golf including business, equipment technology and repairs, rules and tournament organisation, sports science, sports psychology and playing.
Training and education remains an integral part of the PGA with the foundation degree, while the PGA also runs an honours degree in association with the University of Birmingham.
Once qualified, PGA members also undergo a process of continual professional development to keep them up to speed with all the latest developments in the sport.
PGA chief executive Sandy Jones said: “The PGA Graduation Ceremony at the Great Hall of the University of Birmingham has now earned its place as one of the most enjoyable and inspirational days in the PGA calendar. On this day we are able to celebrate men and women completing their PGA training programme and becoming qualified as the next generation of PGA members.
“I always feel enormously proud of these graduates as I know they have all worked extremely diligently during their training years to achieve their PGA qualification.
“Of course the graduation day will not be the end of the story but only the opening to the next chapter of their career as a PGA professional. At this time golf is expanding across new frontiers throughout the world and it will indeed be many of today’s graduates who will take the game forward and successfully grow it within these new territories around the globe.
“They should all feel rightly proud to have successfully completed their PGA training programme which in the eyes of many is the best in the world and they can now go forward confidently with the PGA stamp of approval on their golfing passport which will take them wherever they wish in their careers. I wish them all good luck and success wherever they travel.”
Alexandra Armas, executive director of the Ladies European Tour said: “On behalf of the Ladies European Tour, I would like to congratulate Claire on her PGA exam results and on winning the Female Assistant of the Year award, which recognises her fantastic achievements.
“There are many career opportunities in the golf industry and it is vitally important that women are represented. This qualification will open up a variety of options for Claire and we wish her the best of luck with whichever path she may choose in the future.”
Ken Graham, Titleist director of sales, said: “We are pleased to continue our support of the Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year award, recognising this as a starting point of the PGA’s commitment to provide its members with a framework for lifelong learning.
“PGA professionals play a key role in the development and growth of the game across all levels, and we are delighted to support the next generation of qualified professionals and to wish them well with their future careers.”
There are more than 7,500 PGA members employed in more than 50 different positions within golf with 1,600 working overseas in more than 70 different countries.