The Professional Golf Teachers Association of America (PGTAA) is acknowledged as the Premier Golf Teaching association in the world. Whether its Professional Tour players, Golf Academies throughout the US, Europe and Asia, or the head professionals at private country clubs, public golf courses, golf schools, golf learning centers, driving ranges, indoor facilities, high schools, colleges, universities, and club makers, all agree that the PGTAA program is the Harvard to the Community Colleges of its nearest competitor.
Historically the PGA of America, established in 1916, was the only institution for training and certifying golf teaching professionals. Their program/curriculum involved a three to four-year apprenticeship program and a cost of approximately $5,000.00 with extensive travel to take mandatory tests and to attend seminars at the PGA Education Center in Florida. Additionally, to become a PGA member, an individual must be either a U.S. Citizen or resident alien to be elected to PGA membership and be able to pass a 2-day PAT (Playing Ability Test) shooting to rounds of 74 or less on consecutive days.
The PGTAA is open to all individuals over 21 years of age throughout the world.
The PGA curriculum consists of only about 10% teaching how to teach, whereas the other 90% relates to all aspects of golf management, human resource management, and food and beverage management. The PGA is a great organization whose members do an excellent job of running the nation’s pro shops, promote themselves as teachers and serving the public.
For those seeking purely teaching knowledge and marketing skills as a teacher, the PGTAA’s program is second to none. It’s a 100% teaching curriculum.
Unlike other teaching institutions that offer 3 to 5 levels with varying costs associated with it or claiming you can become a fully certified professional golf teacher in 5 days, the PGTAA provides only one level of certification, that of a Class “A” Master Teaching Professional. The PGTAA standards are the highest for qualifications into the organization, and the curriculum is second to none. If a student receives a PGTAA certification, the student is assured that his teaching and marketing skills are superior to any other program offered in this field.
Dr. Barry Lotz, a Class “A” PGTAA Master Teaching Professional, established the PGTAA to provide extensive training to individuals, as well as recognized golf teachers with years of experience. The PGTAA focuses on the golf teaching profession to provide the finest instruction, from how to teach correctly to how to psychologically and philosophically motivate students to become better golfers. You will learn not only how to teach, but how the importance of the instructor’s enthusiasm is required to be a successful golf teaching professional.
Next, to the PGA, the PGTAA certification and credentialization are the most highly sought after teaching designation in the golf industry.
PGTAA graduates are diverse regarding gender, race, ethnicity, and age, and have access to positions as golf teaching professionals, including head professionals at both private and public country clubs, golf learning centers, golf schools, driving ranges, and many other positions. Many establish their teaching academies. PGTAA graduates all share the love of teaching golf. The PGTAA was founded in 1996. Unlike the PGA, which is involved in several different areas of golf, the PGTAA was explicitly created to train and certify teaching pros.
All PGTAA members are eligible for discounts on equipment and training aids from manufacturers. Wholesale prices will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer with the lowest discount being 20% off retail.
So what’s the difference between the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America (PGTAA) and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America?
Firstly, age as the PGA is older. Secondly, it is a more diverse organization while the PGTAA has been in existence since 1996 and is singly focused as a teaching-only institution. The PGA promotes and sponsors research in a variety of different areas such as golf participation and growing the game, turf management and educates course managers and a range of golf professionals. They do not run the PGA Tour which has been a separate entity since 1968. PGA members include members of the media, golf course architects, club fitters, golf manufacturers’ representatives and retail sales associates.
Each is a separate organization, yet both share a primary mission in common. Each organization’s mission is to train golf instructors, and in the case of the PGA, their primary focus is all-around-golf with just 10% devoted to instructor training. The PGTAA focuses 100% on the training and preparation of golf teachers/instructors. This is the PGTAA’s Raison d'être.
Important fact: it might surprise you to know that before 1994, PGA professionals had NO REQUIREMENTS to learn anything about teaching, or even give a lesson, to become a Class A member. Both David Ledbetter and Butch Harmon are not PGA members.
Don’t get caught up in the rhetoric espoused by PGA members that a five-day course doesn’t allow one to become a golf teacher or that you need at least 2 -3 years on a lesson tee before you can call yourself a golf teacher. The instructor/teaching module from the PGA curriculum is inadequate to be a well-rounded golf instructor/teacher. Additionally, the majority of PGA apprentices are not full-time teachers that perhaps will give a few lessons a week at the most. Usually, you can find them behind the cash register. These are just a few reasons why it takes several years before PGA members become competent as a golf teacher.
What one should consider is that apart from golf, no other sport (tennis, skiing, swimming, and diving) is the student required to spend years in a position that obfuscates the original intention of learning how to teach golf. The PGA mandates that its apprentices spend years learning all the other clutter that is involved with a golf course operation to become a Class A pro. (Food and beverage, tournament director and working in the golf shop to name a few). And, don’t forget the 2-rounds of 74 or better and the cost to do this as well.
For example, it is to be noted that other sports such as skiing, tennis, and swimming and diving, can certify teachers in their specific field in one-week seminars, and no one is saying that’s inadequate.
Fully-certified PGTAA professionals have to go through a minimum of 700 printed pages, a thumb drive entitled “The Complete Short Game – Lowering Your Score” both equating to at least 40 hours of academic training, then at least 9 to 10 hours of playing tests (depending on handicap), and then complete and pass a written examination of 150 questions, with at least an 85% pass rate, to become certified. As many PGA members/detractors would make you believe, that you can just pay the course fee and show up and you’ll be certified.
On the contrary, being granted admission to the PGTAA initially requires verification and conversations to assess the candidate’s competency and communication skills. Should a candidate desire to attend the onsite course, they would need to pass the home study course initially.
There are many PGA members/detractors will lead you to believe that the PGTAA credential is not credible in the field. This would be “fake news” to the thousands of PGTAA professionals currently employed as head professionals at golf courses, driving ranges, retail outlets and club fitting operations all across the country, but also in various other venues. Many of these same detractors may be surprised to find that not only are many PGA professionals sending their assistants to us every year to learn about teaching, but Class “A” PGA professionals also attend our classes every year too!
Many PGA members, not wanting to pay enormous yearly dues, forgo their PGA memberships and become PGTAA member which I know surprises these detractors. Lastly, these detractors when asked directly exactly as to what they know about the PGTAA’s program in detail, they admit they don’t know anything about it specifically. They just feel threatened.
At the PGTAA we are cognizant of the fact that there are many PGA professionals who are fine teachers in their own right. We just happen to believe that our curriculum and our way of training those who simply want to teach the game, to be the best available, most detailed and efficient and most thorough way of doing it.
If the detractors were even only half-right, we wouldn’t still be here, but the fact that in 2024 we are entering into our 27th year of operation, without a price increase in tuition, attests to our acceptance within the industry. That’s a credit, not only to those who work for the PGTAA but those who make the PGTAA the fine prestigious organization it is known for worldwide. Our continuous flow of testimonials from our graduates is never-ending.