Monkstown based Shane Irwin recently completed his PGA training and the Limerick native is now a qualified PGA Professional. After three years of training, Shane passed his final exams to receive his degree level qualification from the University of Birmingham. Shane joins a number of recently qualified golf professionals in Cork, including Alan Gleeson, Davey Barry and Ciaran McKenna.
Prior to working in Monkstown Shane had worked in the industry in South Africa and the US, and that experience gave him the confidence to know that a career in the industry was the way to go. In 2017 he moved to Cork to take up a role in Monkstown Golf Club. After spending a few months working in the pro-shop, .n September 2017 he started his PGA training. Having worked in the US and South Africa prior to that. It was the next step in a plan for Shane. Traditionally the PGA apprenticeship was based around learning on the job, but now the degree level course has a robust syllabus and the academic side of the course is accredited by the University of Birmingham.
The hard work over three years paid off on late 2020 when Shane received the news he had qualified as a PGA Professional. “It’s a great feeling to be a fully qualified PGA Professional, It is always something I wanted to achieve since I started in the golf industry. I never went to college after my leaving cert so it shows once you put in the hard work is very achievable. My parents have been extremely helpful and supportive in me doing it. I couldn’t have picked a better Head Professional & Golf Club to have done my PGA Training, and hopefully many more years to come.”
Irwin trained under Monkstown’s Head Professional Cian McNamara, and between the academic side from Birmingham and practical experience from the Monkstown pro-shop, Irwin now has a very well-rounded set of experiences to draw on. While he knew what to expect from the pro-shop side of the business, the college studies were a new experience for Shane and he was fully engaged with the syllabus. “What I found most interesting about the PGA course is the amount of different modules that we study custom fitting, coaching, business, sports science and personal development. The course really sets Professionals up to what is expected in everyday running for a club Professional. I found the golf coaching and sports science really tie in together. As a player’s body can really affect different faults in the golf swing. In the first lockdown I also became TPI certified and this also really helps with a better understanding of coaching players. I also recently became Level 1 & 2 certified with Trackman.”
Like everyone else, Covid-19 played it’s part in Shane’s 2020, and it added a level of disruption to his final year of study. “I found the studying for my last year stressful enough at the start as we didn’t know if we would have to get to do our written exams or practical exams. But they decided that we base our results on our assignments that we would have done during the start of the year. We went to the belfry in December so we just got to the belfry before Covid had hit. We did our last practical exam where we had to build a golf club from scratch in a certain amount of time.” With two qualified PGA professionals on staff, and the newly appointed GM Maurice O’Meara, Monkstown is ideally positioned to support the membership boost the club received last year. There are some limited membership opportunities remaining in Monkstown, as the club builds on a very positive 2020, despite the two lockdowns.
Although playing opportunities were disrupted in 2020, Shane plans to make competing on the PGA Irish Region tour a priority this season. Irwin won the 2019 Irish PGA Assistants title and he’ll be hoping to add another win or two to his record in 2021. He’ll have a busy year ahead, combining playing with his pro-shop duties along with building his number of clients for coaching and custom fitting. And as well as all of his work commitments, he’ll be keeping close eye on the Limerick hurlers. “Limerick have been a fantastic team last year and I said once again at the start of last year they would win the All Ireland. This is the best opportunity for Limerick to win as much as they can while they can. I can see them winning three more if they keep their head.”