As part of the LET’s commitment to supporting the development of its players, a dual career workshop was organised prior to the Santander Golf Tour LETAS El Saler event close to Valencia. It was delivered by two guest speakers, Kirsty O’Connor and Jack Grundy from the Talented Athlete Support Scheme, who have extensive experience working with elite sportspeople. During the one-hour session, the players gained a deeper understanding of what having a dual career actually means and how it could benefit them both now and in the future.
Kirsty explained: “Considering a dual career isn’t about giving up on your dream of playing professional golf or doubting your ability as a player. Also, players sometimes worry that a dual career might have a negative effect on their performance. However, there is an increasing amount of evidence that a more balanced lifestyle can help to reduce stress levels and can actually improve performance on the course.”
She added: “Players have an opportunity to continue their personal development during down time which means that when their life on tour comes to an end, which it will, they will be better prepared to make the transition into a second career. This can help to avoid potential problems such as reduced income levels, a loss of self-esteem or even mental health problems.”
As well as learning from Kirsty and Jack, the players participated in a number of exercises that aimed to stimulate discussion and encourage the players to think about their own circumstances. The session concluded with the players being asked to set their own personal goals for the winter months.
The workshop was thought-provoking for Laura Murray who said: “I appreciate the efforts the Tour are going to, ensuring that the players are more rounded individuals. It's beneficial to highlight the fact that at any point due to circumstances out of our control our golf careers may come to an end, and having a plan or at least a sense of direction after playing is both sensible and acceptable. The part of the workshop that really struck a chord with me was the fact that I'd been through school and studied Sport and Exercise Science at University, but I graduated quite a number of years ago now. So to think that I'd be able to walk into that line of work immediately following my playing career was naive, yet it hadn't crossed my mind until yesterday. This year I've been thinking about furthering my learning recently alongside golf, and this was the push I'd needed."
She highlighted the relevance of the information provided, continuing: “I remember speaking to Lydia Hall last year at the Ladies Scottish Open. She was talking about doing her PGA training alongside her playing, and honestly she had only positive things to say about it. That surprised me a little. She talked about how flexible her employer was, and how she was able to manage doing both. With her recent form, I think she's a fantastic ambassador for the dual career model.”
After the session had finished, Jack commented: “It was a pleasure to be invited to deliver on the importance of a Dual Career, especially within the Tour environment at such a crucial part of the pathway. It is encouraging to see golf placing such importance on the session by making it a mandatory workshop for all players, which in itself, sends out a great message. It is always hard coming in and promoting Dual Career when the athletes are extremely focused on giving their sport 100%, however TASS is a firm believer that following the Dual Career model does not stop after university and getting the athletes to think about how they continuously develop themselves in their time away from the sport is a crucial factor towards a successful career and future transitions.”
The LET has identified five stages within its education pathway: (i) Thinking about turning professional; (ii) Rookie year; (iii) Life on tour; (iv) Thinking about leaving the tour; and (v) Life after tour. Delivered under the banner of ‘LET’s LEARN’, the ultimate aim is to develop an education and training programme that helps players through all of the stages.