At 178 mph Anything is Possible

Watch Formula 1™ legend David Coulthard and pro-golfer Jake Shepherd set a new world record – farthest golf shot caught in a moving car – with the help of the Mercedes–Benz SLS AMG Roadster. The car caught the ball 275 metres away from the tee.

This stunt was verified by Guinness World Records — see the Behind The Scenes film here:
Warning: No one should attempt to re-enact or recreate any of the activities shown in this video.

View From the Spire: Alex Hay 1933 – 2011

Alex Hay, a PGA professional for more than half a century, former Ryder Cup referee and celebrated TV commentator, died peacefully this morning following a short illness. He was 78.

Hay was born in Edinburgh in 1933 and joined Ben Sayers as an apprentice clubmaker before becoming an assistant at Potters Bar.
He qualified as a PGA professional in 1952 and had spells at East Herts, Dunham Forest and Ashridge golf clubs before moving to Woburn in 1977. Initially, the head PGA professional there, he became its managing director.
Hay also wrote several books on the techniques of the swing and played a key role in the drawings used in the PGA’s training manual.
However, it was his role as a commentator for the BBC from 1978 to 2004 that he is best known. He co-presented all the major tournaments with Peter Alliss and the pair were renowned for their wit, rapport, feeling and deep knowledge of the game.
Hay, who passed away with his family by his side, leaves a wife Ann, and two sons, Graham and David.

The Magic Number: the search for great par 3’s

Here are suggestions as we embark on our search for the Worlds Greatest Par Three hole? If you have any more suggestions to add to our list please leave them as a comment below.

Kingsbarns Golf Links, Scotland, Hole 15

Played around the rocky shores of St. Andrews Bay, the 15th hole is gaining a reputation as one of Scotland’s finest par 3s. The 15th is a 185 yard par 3 that can’t help but be compared to Cypress Point’s glorious 16th. It is certainly one of the most beautiful holes in Fife, which can derail a good ride anytime. Depending on the pin location and the wind, it can be every bit as difficult. The hole is laid out with the North Sea to its right. Except for the extreme left, there is no fairway, rather, the tee shot must carry over water and rocks.

Punta Mita Club de Golf (Pacifico Course), Mexico, Hole 3B

The course has two 3rd holes. 3A is used in case the tide is too high, or the waves are too big, or the wind is too strong to cross.

Set on a natural rock outcropping known as a site for whale watching, the signature island hole, “The Tail of the Whale,” features the added challenge of an oceanside tee on the beach, with an undulating green designed in the shape of a whale’s tail, situated 199 yards off the coast. A tee box is based on the mainland, while the putting green is set on the idyllic natural offshore island. This hole is the only natural island green in the world.

Legends Golf and Safari Resort, South Africa, Hole 19

The course’s so-called “Xtreme 19th” hole is a par 3. A par 3 whose tee is atop a cliff on Hanglip Mountain, more than 1,400 feet above a green carved like the continent of Africa. You’ve got to take a helicopter to get to the tee box, and from there it’s more than 630 yards to the pin. Once you tee off, it takes nearly 30 seconds for the ball to hit the ground.

Should you manage to drill a hole-in-one on the 19th, congratulations — you’ve just won yourself a million bucks, and the right to call yourself the most Xtreme golfer on Earth!

If you know of any world beating Par 3 holes – let me know and Ill be sure to add them to future posts on the Magic Number.

View From the Spire: PGA Pro – “Best-Man-for-the-Job” – 10 common responses

Having previously posted a link for Fettes Management’s blog “View From the Spire: PGA Pro – “Best-Man-for-the-Job”” some weeks ago, and given the strength and depth of responses and comments received, I have compiled a list of the most common or agreed comments from all respondants across all participating forums (especially on LinkedIn).

It made for an interesting discussion and seems that while it was one of the most popular blogs during Fettes Managements short time on the internet, the debate will continue on. But even this resultant output surely means the PGA should take note and play their part in listening to the voice of many of its members.

The ten key points (as currently stands) as output are:

  1. The Director of Golf title is confusing, irrelevant in some cases (as it frequently just a Head Pro role) and it is currently a title often used merely to retain a PGA (or other) Pro.
  2. It is currently applied in many different guises and it is not standardised and provided a difficult question with perhaps more than one answer. Perhaps for the purposes of the quality of the PGA Director of Golf qualification, the role and its key requirements should be standardised.
  3. The PGA Director of Golf qualification seems to be welcomed and acknowledge by most of the commenting audience – with perhaps a few exceptions of long standing Directors of Golf who believe it to be a waste of time given their significant in role experience.
  4. Most PGA Professionals are open to their knowledge shortfall and the skills gap between merely a Head Pro and a (proper) Director of Golf. Some, however are staunchly against further requirement to “skill up”, when they believe the current PGA training is training enough. (It is afterall billed as being suitable for senior roles in golf so why should this change all of a sudden?).
  5. A minority of responses (mostly from PGA Professionals) focussed exclusively on the PGA Pro only applications for Director Golf Roles. Course Superintendants were also mentioned frequently as relevant too.
  6. A core skill that was mentioned by more than half responses was significant customer service experience.
  7. Rarely were business skills mentioned in regard to being able to Direct the Golf side of a golf facility business – which says something.
  8. Despite that, non PGA Professionals were keen to be included not only for future Director of Golf roles but also for inclusion in the PGA Director of Golf qualification. (Reasons why the PGA should accept this were mentioned in the article previously posted).
  9. More than half of the respondents were clearly keen to hire the “Best-Man-For-the-Job”- believing that due to the way that its always been, the majority of recruits will be PGA Professionals.
  10. In one crucial response, the “Best-Man-For-the-Job” should be a woman! (Tongue in cheek as the article was created around a well coined phrase!)

To add to this discussion, please review the original post and leave any relevant comments on the page so that this list can be updated and submitted to the PGA as required.

View From the Spire: PGA Pro – “Best-Man-for-the-Job”?


An experienced Director of Golf is required to oversee commercial activities whilst delivering a 5 star customer service at a well known Hotel and Golf Resort in the UK. The Director of Golf will be fully responsible and accountable for the efficient management the Golf Operations in accordance with the policies approved by the Board of Directors and demonstrate:

  • Overall control and management of the Golf Division on a daily basis
  • Oversee all areas of the business including tee-time yield management, sales & marketing, membership, retail, golf services and golf
    course management
  • Financial and administration control
  • Business development activities
  • IT Management
  • Leading and motivating all employees of the Club
  • Revenue generation


Who is the best man for this job?

a)     Is it someone who has significant experience of running and managing a multi faceted business?

b)     Is it someone who has come from a successful management career within sales and marketing or general management with significant experience of handling financial responsibilities?

c)      Is it someone with the eye for strategic planning, the placement of relevant procedures and the acute knowledge of leadership and recruitment of the best staff?

d)     Or is it someone who has a former proven playing ability who dedicates his career to teaching kids and old ladies and has reasonable retail sales success who has taken three years working in a golf shop to earn professional membership?

Whatever your preference, the best man for the job is the one who has the skills and experience required to get the job done and deliver for his employer. My personal thought is that the best man for the job definitely has “a)”, “b)” and “c)” and it might be handy to also have “d)”.

Sadly, there is a train of thought within the golf industry that the best man for this job can only be a man who has undertaken his PGA Professional training. (Answer “d)” above for those that may not be any the wiser).

At this point I will refer to the PGA Training Academy for their words on why you should employ a PGA Professional. Interestingly no-where on this list does it mention strategy, real leadership, financial, IT, management or, the bane of all of our lives, corporate governance training.

Now please don’t get me wrong – I was nearly an assistant training PGA Professional once – when I was 16. It would have taken me three years of working in my local golf shop, fixing new grips on golf clubs, hoovering the shop twice daily, selling tees, Mars bars and the occasional jumper or full set of clubs to become qualified and I would have loved it.

Despite the quality of instruction of the PGA academy, three years of working in a predominantly retail environment is not on a par with further education via college or University that I subsequently receive (for starters there are no requirements for entry other than golf ability). Nor is a PGA Qualification (OR further education for that matter) anywhere near as valuable as experience in a relevant position where you would gain invaluable and relevant skills to match your theory over many years.

However, career progression in golf is a funny one. Once qualified and with the appropriate experience; you may consider attempting to compete on one of the many tours for PGA Professionals – culminating in the elite European or PGA Tours; you may have an opportunity to become a Head PGA Professional at your own, or another Club, and that’s it.

Thereafter, it might be that I wish to consider attempting to compete on one of the many tours for PGA Professionals; I may have an opportunity to join a bigger Club, or I could consider a role with responsibilities that are additional to those normally expected of a golf club professional – something like a Director of Golf position.

[Here is a direct quote from the PGA themselves] The title ‘Director of Golf’ is already widely used in the golf industry. It has been adopted by many different organisations and is applied to a variety of working situations. It is evident that the position of Director of Golf is usually accepted as one with responsibilities that extend from and are additional to those normally expected of a golf club professional; however, to this point there has been no clear standard or job description to consistently define the role.

The PGA goes on to proclaim that for their own members who wish to be appropriately qualified Directors of Golf, they have launched a three phase qualification. This qualification is designed to provide a means of recognition for those who already perform effectively in the role of  Director of Golf (the point?) as well as providing a framework for acquiring the skills needed for those who aspire to such a role. Appropriately, this qualification includes (at long last) an understanding of:

  • Strategic Management
  • Operational Management
  • Managing People
  • Managing Finance
  • Marketing
  • Customer Service and Personal Management

I hope that this recent development ensures appropriate developmental opportunities for PGA Professionals such that they, alongside those who fall in categories “a)”, “b)” and “c)” are business capable, and potentially can also become equal to the best men for these positions.

However, in closing, if the PGA are spending time to serious develop and prepare their brethren via a points based learning system to be the best men for the Director of Golf, General Manager and other related jobs – why then utilize valuable opportunities via their annual event in Harrogate ( to train PGA Pros how to fold jumpers? (I saw this with my very own eyes last October!)

Much like the game itself – and perhaps demonstrating a small insight into why over 150 golf clubs face serious financial difficulties and over 25 slide into administration every year- the PGA lead business of golf seems to defy any form of business related logic.

Ryder Cup Madrid Bid: Letter from Seve Ballesteros

Click here to support Seve’s Madrid Bid.

Seve inspires a new generation

Golfing legend and Optimal partner, Seve Ballesteros, yesterday delivered an inspirational speech to this year’s European Ryder Cup Team.

Despite being unable to accept captain Colin Montgomerie’s invitation to speak to the team in person, Seve addressed the team as a whole and spoke at length about his many Ryder Cup experiences over the years.

Skipper Montgomerie said “The whole team spoke to Seve for about 10 minutes and that was very motivational, very passionate and also very sad to hear him, to hear the way he is… but it was a real inspiration, especially for the rookies in the team, to speak to Seve and have Seve speak to them.”

 Seve Inspires a New Generation

He went on to say: “We were just honoured to have him, have his presence in the room. It’s always nice to not ever feel that Seve is forgotten by us or by European golf in any way, shape or form.”

“It definitely bonds a team, if it needed bonding, together, very close, when Seve, our legend, speaks to us.”

Seve Ballesteros has become entwined with the magic of the Ryder Cup. As a mainstay in the European side throughout the 80’s and 90’s, he scored 20 points out of 37 matches against the United States; his partnership with fellow Spaniard José María Olazábal being the most successful in the history of the competition.

While Seve was a member of European sides that won the Ryder Cup in 1985,1987, 1989 and 1995, the pinnacle of his career in the competition came in 1997, when he captained the winning European side at Valderrama Golf Club in Sotogrande, Spain.

Seve recently launched the Seve Ballesteros Golf Academy. The Academy is a unique golf coaching platform, developed by Edinburgh-based Optimal Analysis Solutions, allowing users to interactively learn the characteristic, instinctive “Natural” play, made famous by the five-time major winner.

The Academy will provide a unique online and mobile phone offering and become a key part of a golfer’s personal tuition. Through the academy, Seve hopes to raise significant funds for his foundation, which aims to progress the battle against brain cancer and help golfers from under-privileged backgrounds.

So, join Seve now! – Learn, improve, share and enjoy – and all for a great cause