As mentioned in yesterday’s contribution, Gary Bernard had been serving as Canadian PGA executive director, albeit with an interim tag attached, since Steve Carroll left the job at the end of October.
Carroll, now with the Royal Canadian Golf Association, influenced Bernard’s future in more ways than just vacating a post.
“I was very fortunate to work with and for Steve Carroll and I had dinner with him (recently) in Vancouver,” said Bernard.
“I did a presentation at the RCGA (annual general meeting) and, of course, he was there. I thanked him for allowing me to have enough rope to just do your job,” he added.
“I think that helped a lot. He gave me the opportunity to try some things, maybe make a mistake or two, maybe fumble the ball, but pick it up and move on,” said Bernard, adding the last three months helped prepare him, as well.
“Then, of course, being thrown in the deep end by being the interim has certainly given me a feel for what you really have to do on a day-to-day basis and the operational end of being the executive director.
“I was pretty fortunate to have five years under Steve with his leadership style of allowing me to take some chances, do some things and then to have the three months was a great advantage for sure.”
There is one other advantage that will help going forward, that being that he came up through the association ranks from its very roots.
“I think one of the things I can help with is I’ve been there, done that, if you will,” he said.
“I’ve been in the backshop cleaning clubs and I’ve taken the tee times and answered the phones and taught on the range all day, so for me, it means a lot to have those experiences,” added Bernard.
“I think the people realize that I have the passion to understand to a pretty good degree of what it’s like to be a golf pro in Canada.
“We’re trying to help people improve their stations in life. That will resonate with many members. At least, they’ll have an understanding that this guy’s been there and done it,” he said.
Improving the lives of association members is at the foundation of what Bernard says is his focus going into the job.
“Every time, we look at a project or initiative or program, I think it needs to be scrutinized in this way – will it help our members live a better life, will it help our members earn a better living?
“If we can look at those things and look a member in the face and say, `You know what? Everything we’re meets those criteria or least one of them, then we’re trying to do the best we can, given the resources we have and the geographical nature and diversity of our country.”
Bernard called Sunday, when his appointment became public, a “one-day” honeymoon before getting down to business at association meetings this week.
Of course, there are important dates ahead such as the Professional Advancement, Career Enhancement (PACE) program coming up for approval by association members, but there are other priorities, as well.
“Right now, the biggest priority for me is to make sure I have an understanding of what the elected officers and the board expect of me,” said Bernard.
“I think in the next quarter or two, the big challenge will be trying to hire some staff and fill in some key areas in communication and employment and marketing,” he added.
However, all is not challenges, according to Bernard, who attended a meeting of world PGAs while in Florida and he was particularly proud that other associations are paying attention to Canadian education initiatives.
“Actually, the other PGAs want to know what we’re doing in our teaching and coaching,” said Bernard, who was part of a Canadian contingent at the world meeting.
“This is a real thrill as a member of the PGA to sit here thinking that all the recognized PGAs in the world are listening to Canada tell them what really neat programs we’re doing in long-term player development and golf in schools and with juniors.
“The education component is a huge part, to make sure that our members have as good an opportunity as they can, not only in the industry in Canada, but because of the nature of our members now, who are perhaps traveling around to look at opportunities and this can only help them.”