Your PGA Professionals: Speechley shines in second career

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Too much had been invested to leave without pain.

A member of the Western Australian amateur team alongside Minjee Lee, a Karrie Webb scholarship recipient and ranked No. 1 amateur in the country, Jessica Speechley had all the characteristics of a rising star.

A regular member of the Golf Australia national team, Speechley was a rookie on the Japanese LPGA Tour in 2013 before a hip injury and financial pressures ended her playing career prematurely.

She and her mother – who had raised her and her twin sister as a single parent – both took matters into their own hands, the couple did not speak for more than two years as they both pondered what might happen next.

If the story didn’t take a positive turn, it would be a cautionary tale, not an opportunity, the unforeseen path being the journey Speechley was actually destined to take along.

“I always thought I was going to be successful. My goal was to be No. 1 and play in the LPGA,” Speechley said.

Yet when those dreams faded, it was the man who had guided her down this path in the first place who found a way to steer her passion for golf in a new direction.

“It was actually my coach, Craig Bishop, who said to me, ‘Why don’t you do the PGA Bridging Program?'” says Speechley, who now works as a PGA teaching professional at Joondalup. Resort in Perth.

“I applied everywhere and couldn’t even find a job at Bunnings. I had to stick to the golf industry and that’s what I did.

“I still thank him today for pushing me through this because otherwise I wouldn’t be in the industry. And I love coaching; it’s fantastic.

“I never really thought about becoming a coach, but I’m happy to do it now. Otherwise, I don’t know what I would do, to be honest.

Formerly known as the PGA Bridging Program, the PGA Tour Professional Articulation provides a pathway to PGA of Australia membership for those who have demonstrated a high level of playing skill, typically those who have played on a world tour .

It eliminates the play requirement contained in the Membership Pathway program and provides a condensed timeline to become a PGA Accredited Coach.

Admitting that getting back into the books was a battle at first, Speechley completed the course in two years and has a vested interest in encouraging more women to get back into the game.

“My goal is to involve as many women as possible,” she says.

“It’s a male dominated sport and at this stage I’m teaching mostly girls and junior girls. My goal is just to get them to take control of the men,” Speechley adds with a laugh.

With Bishop now serving as her coaching mentor, Speechley’s style is evolving from the player she was to the coach she wants to be.

Driven by stats and numbers during her gaming days, Speechley now complements her coaching with technology such as TrackMan with a focus on the simplicity of her instructions.

“I have to choose, especially when I’m coaching a woman,” Speechley says of her use of technology.

“They don’t want to see themselves on video because they’re quite embarrassed. Beginners, I never show videos. Obviously, if they improve, I start showing them positions.

“What I learned from Craig was his enthusiasm, his love for the game and his desire to see improvements.

“When I see improvement in the students, I get so excited. And I love seeing all the ladies get excited. That’s what pushes me and pushes me to keep doing what I’m doing.

“It was a tough transition period as I obviously wasn’t playing, but once I got into the transition program my passion reignited.”

• Regardless of your background or previous experience, there is a job in the Australian golf industry for you. To explore the various opportunities within the golf industry, visit pga.org.au/education/academy

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