As PGA ‘AAT’ Golf Professional at Elgin Golf Club with over 15 years experience within the Scottish golf industry, Michael is passionate about the game of golf and absolutely thrives in the all round duties of a Club Professional.
Michael hails from the West Lothian town of Linlithgow and learned how to play the game at his home town club. His father Frank and neighbours introduced him to the game at a fairly young age and the inheritance of his father’s excellent hand/eye co-ordination (from his own previous prowess on the shinty field) all helped Michael to grow his passion for the game. Although not really coming from a golfing family, having maternal grandparents who lived in the ‘Home of Golf’ St Andrews helped to further engrain the game within Michael.
A regular winner within the Junior Section at Linlithgow GC and a Captain of the Juniors, Michael’s first real taste of golfing success came when he won the County under-16s Championship held at Bathgate Golf Club. This trophy is called the ‘Walker Cup’ and has some impressive names on it – Ryder Cup captains Eric Brown and Bernard Gallacher and his nephew Stephen Gallacher. Bernard’s brother (Stephen’s father) Jim, also a previous winner, was in the clubhouse when Michael won the tournament and told Michael how much history was behind the trophy and how Michael had won ‘the big one’!
There was further County and club success, then a move to Edinburgh to study at Napier University gained Michael an honours degree in Communication Management. Playing in the Scottish Universities Championship for Napier at Moray Golf Club gave Michael his first experience of life in the lovely Moray area.
Studies came first at this stage but golf was never forgotten and Michael was still able to play at Linlithgow most weekends and in the Napier medals at Gullane and inter-university matches around Scotland. One of the key things Michael learned from this time was the importance of camaraderie in golf and how to enjoy the social side of the game. After all – we may play the game individually most of the time but it is usually in company and within a ‘club’ environment.
After graduation Michael took some time out to consider his next career step. This involved working in Edinburgh during the week, performing Match and Handicap Secretary duties at the golf club and spending the rest of his time on the golf course! It also coincided with him meeting his now-wife Gillian. What was soon clear to Gillian (but possibly not yet to Michael!) was that he would probably only be happy with a career in the golf industry and as playing the game was his passion then maybe he should consider turning professional? Information was sought on how to enter into the industry, CV’s were immediately sent out and an interview was secured with Ken Kelly at Baberton Golf Club on the edge of Edinburgh. The interview seemed to go well – a job was offered on the same day and duly accepted!
Two and a half years at Baberton on the outskirts of Edinburgh were followed by three and a half years in the Scottish Borders working at the championship venue The Roxburghe with Craig Montgomerie. Michael was then contacted and offered an opportunity to work in central Edinburgh with Jonnie Cliff at Murrayfield Golf Club. After two great years at Murrayfield, Michael was contacted by the Head Pro at Glenbervie Golf Club in the central belt with the offer of a position as Senior Assistant Pro.
It was hard to move away from a good job at Murrayfield but relocation from Galashiels to Perth meant that it was possible and it also offered Michael the opportunity to work with another of the most knowledgeable PGA Pro’s in Scotland – Steven Rosie. Michael has been very lucky to have worked with and come into contact with some fantastic PGA Professionals and also to have made some lifelong friends along the way – honourable mentions here for Craig Waddell and Brian Mason!
After three great years at Glenbervie the job opportunity of Head Professional at Elgin Golf Club arose. An interview was thankfully secured, the process went well and ultimately the job was offered! Knowledge of and a fondness for the area (Gillian worked in Hawick for Johnstons of Elgin for six years as a cashmere designer and had frequently travelled to Elgin) meant that the offer was very quickly accepted!
Michael started at Elgin in January 2013 and has fully adapted to life in Moray.
Player, teacher, custom club fitter, competition administrator, marketer, buyer, retailer and trainer of future Professionals are ‘some’ of his job titles but his greatest satisfaction comes from interacting with members, their guests and all visitors in the Golf Club environment. Michael and his team try to create a warm and friendly atmosphere in the Pro Shop to make sure everyone who enters the shop enjoys the experience.
Michael is very enthusiastic about continuing to develop as a PGA Professional and is a great supporter of the Continuous Personal Development courses offered within the golf industry by the PGA. His areas of study include coaching, agronomy and social media ( see www.facebook.com/elginproshop !). The Pro Shop team is completed by PGA Assistant Pro Ben Munro, Retail and Administration Assistant Rachel Sanderson.