Gary Bernard has spent just over a month in his new role as full-time Canadian PGA executive director and faces one of the more important events in his short time on the job when he attends the annual general meeting on March 24 in Moncton. GNN had a chat with Bernard recently to get his take on the important PACE vote that will come up at the AGM, but also other issues affecting the Canadian PGA.
With the Canadian PGA annual general meeting on the horizon, Gary Bernard reflects back to when he spoke at the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s AGM about what golf professionals bring to the table for facilities.
He says the reaction he received afterwards from governors and representatives of RCGA member clubs was positive, even if people were surprised at the training and education that go along with being a Canadian PGA member.
That’s a message that should be emphasized, according to Bernard, who will have a similar chat with members of the National Golf Course Owners Association this week.
As important as PACE, assuming it is voted in, and education programs are to Canadian PGA members, Bernard says another focus should be on getting the message outside the association to potential employers.
“We need to make sure that (NGCOA executive director) Jeff Calderwood and his group and other prime employers – RCGA member clubs, ClubLink, Golf Town – understand what it means when somebody has a certification in the Rules of Golf, or food and beverage, coaching, or whatever it might be,” said Bernard.
“It’s really important that they understand what that means,” he said.
It’s easy enough to become insular when you’re wrapped up in day-to-day association business or something as important as PACE, but it can never be forgotten that employers are important partners in enhancing and advancing the careers of Canadian PGA members.
According to Bernard, that means breaking down the barriers that can stand in the way of information and perception of association members.
“I don’t think we’ve done a great job of really helping our members in that professional development,” he said. “We haven’t really, perhaps, done the best job we could have, letting the employers know what that really is,” said Bernard.
“That’s one of my own personal goals is to ensure that my relationship with Jeff Calderwood grows and my relationship with the owners,” said Bernard.
“Every opportunity I get to speak to owners on behalf of our members, I’m going to take that opportunity and try to help them have a better understanding of what our members actually are doing,” he said.
Bernard stresses that some association members have degrees such as PhDs and MBAs and many have experience that is spread over different aspects of a golf operation.
“We have a lot of very experienced people who are doing great jobs all over this country and that’s good for them individually, but we need to make sure that owners and employers in general have a better understanding of what they can do,” he said, adding that practical experience is an important consideration for employers.
“I think it’s interesting in talking to some of these employers, some of them expect someone new to be able to start running their facility as if they’ve been a 10-year veteran,” he said.
“You take some of our long-time professionals who are either head pros or directors of golf or, in some cases, general managers, well it took them awhile to get to that position. They didn’t just step out of a PGM program and the next day, they were the director of golf.”
As Bernard prepares for the association’s annual general meeting in a few weeks, he looks forward to one of the more pleasant duties in Moncton, where the Canadian PGA will honour Lindon Garron, whose two-year term as president will be ending. We’ll get Bernard’s thoughts on Garron tomorrow.