• Vogel finds ideal combination of work and play

In March of this year, Steffi Vogel made the cut in a Ladies European Tour event. If she achieves nothing else in her golf career, that can never be taken away from her.

Yet when she began the PGA of Australia’s Membership Pathway Program straight out of high school, pitting her game against some of the best in the world was the furthest thing from her mind.

“I had no intentions of playing whatsoever,” said Vogel, who grew up playing junior golf at Cobram Barooga Golf Club and began the MPP under PGA Professional Michael MacGregor at her home club.

“I originally did it just to be able to either coach or be in a pro shop.”

For some who enter the MPP, playing is not the No.1 priority.

They see an avenue to be able to build a career within the Australian golf industry but, as Vogel discovered, taking the path to become a PGA Professional does not signal the end of your playing days.

Through weekly PGA Open matches, Vogel found that her game developed so much with regular competition that it fuelled her passion for playing at a high level again.

“Through the Monday matches I started playing really well and I thought maybe I actually do want to play as well on the side,” she added.

Emma Ash was a star junior growing up in Adelaide but recognised early the difficulty in forging a career in golf purely through playing.

A two-time winner of the SA Junior Amateur Championship, Ash appeared destined for the LPGA or Ladies European Tour until her brother’s interest in PGA education opened her eyes to the career paths that were available.

“It was always that I wanted to play, but as I got older and I got more realistic in life. I realised that there probably wasn’t the likelihood of making a career out of playing,” said Ash.

“I thought there was a big gap in coaching, particularly female coaching. From my experience as a player, I was never exposed to a female coach other than Fiona Pike and Anne-Marie Knight.

“I wanted to follow those footsteps and try to provide opportunities for more young girls in that coaching stream.”

After six years of concentrated work in the coaching realm, Ash made a return to the WPGA Tour of Australasia at the start of 2024.

She began with a victory at a rain-shortened Melbourne International and, like Vogel, made the cut at the Women’s NSW Open at Magenta Shores Golf and Country Club.

With her coaching business performing strongly, Ash is able to tee it up without the financial pressures that others may be feeling.

“It just makes it easier. I’m not playing for a cheque each week,” she said.

“I’m playing just because I enjoy the game, just want to have fun and I’m still competitive.”

Vogel, who was sixth at Webex Players Series Murray River and top-30 at the Vic Open, attributes all of the playing opportunities she has enjoyed the past 12 months to her PGA grounding.

“I’m very happy that I went through that direction. I certainly don’t think I’d be here without it,” said Vogel, who also played the Australian Women’s Classic at Bonville in April.

“I definitely recommend it. The assignments take a bit of time but you have plenty of time to do it whilst you’re out here playing.

“It’s good to have something away from playing as well to be able to focus on and to go back to when there are no tournaments.”

A new addition to the Membership Pathway Program is a dedicated ‘Playing’ stream, designed to not only provide qualifications but the foundation needed to mix it with the elite of world golf.

“They’re playing full-time on the LET and it’s good to see what they’re doing with their games,” Ash said of her LET experience.

“I encourage anyone to do the MPP just to give you more opportunities within the sport.”

To express your interest in starting the PGA Membership Pathway Program click here

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