The Methods of Modern Mentoring

Except from The Methods of Modern Mentoring in the August Edition of PGA Magazine | Written by Don Jozwiak, Senior Editor & Ryan Adams, PGA, Associate Editor

Article Highlights 

  • Tom Son, PGA, has built a successful mentorship program for PGA Associates, starting in the San Diego Chapter
  • The program is designed to be engaging and fun; consisting of seven monthly meetings, in-person or virtual, and quarterly competitive events
  • The program has expanded into the four other SCPGA Chapters with one PGA Member assigned to keep track of the mentorship

One good dead often leads to others – sometimes many others. That’s the case with a new mentorship program created by PGA Professional Tom Son, which was inspired by one of his mentors, PGA Professional Rich Iorio. Son, the PGA General Manager at Arrowood Golf Course in Oceanside, California, built the mentorship program for PGA Associates in the San Diego Chapter of the Southern California PGA.

The program started last July with 10 PGA Members and 10 Associates signing up, with Son keeping track of everything via an Excel spreadsheet.

“The idea was to let the PGA Associates in our Chapter know that they aren’t alone in their journey to PGA membership,” notes Son, a member of the PGA LEAD initiative’s Cohort VI. “They have PGA Members who’ve been through the program already that they can build lifelong relationships with and help them at every turn.”

This innovative program follows a trend that has started in other industries that make mentoring a more organized, group-oriented program. With busy schedules throughout the golf business, making mentorship an appointment-worthy opportunity beyond one-on-one meetings is both effective and efficient.

The program includes seven monthly meetings, in-person or virtual, and quarterly competitive events where mentors take on mentees in fun formats, with food & beverage to follow. Throughout last year, it grew from 20 total participants to 50, which had Son asking the question, “Why not make this a Section-wide initiative?”

This year, the Southern California PGA Section is doing just that, implementing the San Diego Chapter’s programming setup throughout the other four Chapters in the Section. There’s also the Launchpad and Town Hall programs – the former helps PGA Associates get through Level 1, which ends up being the hardest to pass, while the latter brings a guest speaker to the fold every Wednesday on a variety of useful topics.

Each Chapter has a PGA Member assigned to keep track of the mentorship meet-ups as Son did initially, and a bevy of great stories have emerged.

“It’s pretty cool to see the impact of this program on both the PGA Members and Associates,” says Son. “When a PGA Associates has someone who cares about them, that’s an invaluable experience – they may be convinced to stay in the program and eventually become a tremendous PGA Professional.”

A key part of the mentoring experience Son has helped create is the on-course time PGA Professionals spend together. Playing opportunities can be difficult to find during busy times, and participants relish the chance to deepen relationships while enjoying the game they love.

“The big highlight of the program is the competitive events we have every three months,” Son says. “If participants aren’t having fun, they won’t be incentivized to continue in the program. We invite respected PGA Professionals who can share a lot of the experiences, and it’s a great way for everyone to get to know each other”.

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