Welcome back to our latest feature on our new-look website, giving you the chance to learn how PGA Professionals help and support the game up and down the country.
The PGA is responsible for identifying and fulfilling the needs of over 7,500 members working in more than 60 countries worldwide.
PGA Professionals are key to the continued global success of golf, operating in over 50 different roles – from club professionals and course architects to retailers and high performing coaches.
Focusing on Scotland’s professionals, many of whom work with the Scottish Golf Union and our national squad players, our second feature is on Nicola Melville.
Nicola is a freelance teaching professional working at St Andrews, who last year helped set up the Scottish Ladies Open Tour (now the Ladies Tartan Tour). Exciting times ahead for Nicola, pictured above with Paul Lawrie and Brian Mair, Secretary of the PGA in Scotland, so let’s find out more…
What is your golfing background?
NM: “I started playing golf at the age of 12 and won the Ladies Club Championship’s at both Bridge of Allan and Stirling Golf Club’s while in my teens. I represented Stirling and Clackmannanshire County Ladies before turning professional and joining the PGA’s training programme in 2005. To continue my development, last year I undertook the PGA Level 3 Coaching qualification and I’m now in the final stage of the assessments.”
What have been your career highlights, employment and /or playing?
NM: “I started the PGA training programme at a time when the PGA were increasing the emphasis of the programme into more academic areas, with the backing of the University of Birmingham, making it extremely challenging. Therefore completing the Foundation Degree programme was probably the hardest but most worthwhile development for my career. Additionally, being involved in starting the Ladies Tartan Tour is something I’m particularly proud of.”
Where are you currently based?
Melville enjoys her various roles in golf
NM: “I am a freelance professional based at St Andrews. I started my training as an assistant at Blairgowrie Golf Club before moving to the Old Course Hotel, St Andrews in 2006. In order to develop my career further I decided to become freelance in 2010, which gave me time to focus on other areas of interest. I’m a PGA qualified rules official and member of the PGA Rules Panel and work as a referee mainly on the PGA EuroPro Tour, which takes me up and down the country.”
You have been involved in starting the Ladies Tartan Tour (previously the Scottish Ladies Open Tour). How exciting is this for you and how significant is it for Scottish golf?
NM: “Last year, the freelance golf writer Colin Farquharson and I started the Scottish Ladies Open Tour (now the Ladies Tartan Tour). We both felt that there needed to be more opportunities for female players to play in their home country, and that there needed to be a “stepping stone” for aspiring players to make the move on the main tours.
“We were fortunate to get sponsorship from the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre which helped get the idea off the ground and encourage other sponsors. Over the course of our first season we had over 80 different players, including those from England and the Continent, which we found very encouraging.”
You are fully endorsed by the PGA in Scotland and have the backing of former Open champion Paul Lawrie. How important is this support?
NM: “Having the backing of the PGA in Scotland and Paul Lawrie is fantastic for the tour. It helps to raise the profile of ladies golf up and down the country and it gives WPGA players and trainees more events to play in and fulfil their playing requirements.”
How strong a supporter of Scottish golf is Paul Lawrie?
NM: “Paul is doing a lot for Scottish golf. Between the work he is doing with his Foundation and the money he is putting into both men’s and ladies’ Tartan Tours I’m sure it’s only matter of time before we start to see the results across Scottish golf as a whole. I’m surprised he finds time to fit everything in!”
The aim of the tour is to provide Scottish female professionals and leading amateurs a chance to test their skills with the hope of moving onto the big stage. You must be pleased to be playing a key part?
NM: “I’m very pleased to play any part I can in helping to raise the profile of ladies golf, particularly in Scotland. I’ve always felt the men’s game has received more coverage but that is starting to change.”
You mentioned your rules background?
NM: “It’s challenging work as there are so many different scenarios that you can encounter during the course of a tournament, but that also makes it very enjoyable. I hope to be able to gain more experience in this area with a view to it as a future career.”