Matt Douglas was 35 when he commenced the PGA Trainee Program as a mature-age student. Now an assistant professional at Headland Golf club, he would not change his Sunshine Coast Life for anything.
At age 19, he wanted a place in the PGA Trainee Program and start the journey to the professional golf career he'd always dreamed of.
Only he missed the deadline for the application.
"I thought the world had made up my mind for me," recalls Douglas. "I didn't know how the application process really worked and I missed the closing date."
With professional golf opportunities few and far between, the Queenslander cut his losses and joined the workforce.
The longing to be around the golf industry, however, remained.
Douglas dabbled in several occupations, from working at Brisbane's Rocklea Markets to roles in the transport industry. It was at the latter in 2012 when a colleague offered some cliché, but relevant, career advice.
"A workmate said to me, 'If you find a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life.' I thought about it and started to wonder if the universe was trying to tell me something again – maybe I'd not taken the right career choice 16 years beforehand," says Douglas.
Instantly, the then 35-year-old approached Oxley Golf Club's Head Professional Adam Norlander and explained his dream. Douglas wanted to become a mature-age Trainee with the PGA of Australia at Oxley, 20 minutes outside Brisbane.
"Adam was great about it. I'd known him since I was 12 years of age and he was really accommodating of what I wanted to do," recalls Douglas.
"He told me he'd put me on as a casual worker straightaway and, once I got accepted, he'd take me on as a Trainee. I can't thank him enough for doing that.
"Oxley was a great place to work. It's really down to earth and a lot of the members are tradies. The course is always in good condition and it's a challenging layout."
His career change was vindicated, almost instantly. On the course, Douglas was performing brilliantly and placed second on the Queensland Trainee Order of Merit in 2014. Off the course, he was getting pleasing results in the golf coaching and business administration side of the program.
"I was driven to work hard because I love the game," says Douglas. "Adam was a great Professional to learn from; he is a very accomplished player and won a few academic awards during his traineeship.
"He gave me the autonomy to go about my own tasks because I showed initiative. He's the sort of boss that's easy to approach and is always willing to help.
"A lot of work went into my Traineeship, but I knew what my goal was. I went into the program as an average player but I came out the other end a much better golfer. I also enjoyed the business and sales side of the job the more I put my mind to it."
During his final year of the PGA Trainee Program in 2014, Douglas was rewarded for his persistence when Norlander was offered the Head Professional position at Headland Golf Club on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. Norlander asked his Trainee to come across – only with the new title, Assistant Professional.
"I was honoured. I wasn't even finished my traineeship and here I was already being asked to become an Assistant Pro once I finished," says Douglas. "It's just one step closer to becoming a Head Pro, which is my ultimate goal. And testing myself as an Assistant Pro added responsibility which is good for my career, especially in a new club environment on the Sunshine Coast."
Given that environment is one of the most beautiful parts of Queensland, Douglas isn't complaining when he calls the Sunshine Coast his new home.
"I'm not a surfer; I'm a fisher. So when I'm not working hard in the Pro Shop it's good to unwind and go fishing around here. It's pretty tough," he laughs.
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