OPINION: This week we caught up with Cody Harper, who has said goodbye to the amateur ranks to take on a PGA Academy Trainee Programme. You'll find him at SBS Bank Invercargill Golf Club.
As an amateur you represented Southland for 10 years – what were some of the highlights for you?
The highlight was definitely winning the Toro Interprovincial and the South Island Interprovincial with the Southland team last year. Golf is such an individual sport so to win with your mates is something special.
When did you decide to turn pro and what made you do it this year?
Most top golfers have the desire to turn pro at some stage. For me, I was struggling with my game in 2010 and wanted golf to be my career. I have always looked into becoming a coach and the opportunity came while working at the SBS Bank Invercargill Golf Course.
It turned out to be perfect timing with the Southland team being on top and my golf improving a lot over the past year.
Are you enjoying being based at SBS Bank Invercargill Golf Club under John Griffin?
It has been great doing my traineeship here under John. He has been very successful in his career and I try and learn as much as I can from him. The members are also very supportive in what I'm doing so that's been very inspiring as well.
What does your traineeship involve?
The traineeship involves a lot of theory as you are also learning about the business side of things, not just becoming a coach or improving your own game. The theory counts for 85 per cent of your end-of-year marks, with 15 per cent to playing. The traineeship is a three-year course. I am available to take lessons as of now, which is exciting, and I look forward to improving people's games around the Southland golf community.
What are the parts of the programme you are most looking forward to learning?
Getting involved with the junior golfers and hopefully helping to grow and improve the game down here.
What are the practical requirements associated with your traineeship?
Being based down here I hand in 10 competitive cards which go towards my average for the end of the year.
You're not an amateur any more, and you're not yet a pro, so what status do you take into tournaments?
Your status is trainee pro, but going to play tournaments (Charles Tour or Pro-Ams) you are playing as a pro and are eligible to play for money.
What are some of the key things you have learnt from the programme so far?
It is a different mindset from getting coached to "coaching". So far I am just trying to absorb everything and keep learning to become the best possible coach that I can.
What are your aims for the future?
This year has begun by just getting used to the assignments and a good schedule. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I'll have a junior academy up and running and start getting a few more lessons. Next year I intend to play a few more tournaments as long as my marks and playing ability are where I want them.
- The Southland Times