Life in a day: PGA Golf Professional Craig Featherstone

Professional golfer Craig Featherstone, 39, took the game up relatively late, at the age of 16. Seven years later he turned pro aged 23. He balances working at Philips Golf Discount with teaching and playing tournament golf in the PGA North Region. He lives with his wife Kerry and son Adam, 9, in Forest Hall, just outside Newcastle and travels across the UK playing tournaments in the summer months.

It’s an early start most days – I get up between 7am and 7.30am when I am not playing a tournament.  If it’s a tournament day I’ll get up anywhere between 4am and 7am depending on where I’m playing and what time I’m teeing off. On week days I do the school run so I’ll wake Adam up, get him ready and might just have time to grab a slice of toast if I’m lucky. Most of the time I’ll skip breakfast, but I try not to miss a cup of coffee.

Work depends on the day. If I’m at the unit – assisting and teaching at Philips Golf Discount – I’ll be there for 9am. If I’m not at the unit I’ll spend the day teaching; whether that’s at Wallsend Driving Range or at Backworth Golf Club, where I’m the attached professional.

At the unit it depends on the day. On Monday mornings I’ll usually be clearing the backlog of orders from the weekend. The rest of the week my time is split between assisting in the shop, teaching and doing club fittings.

In the summer it’ll be pretty much non-stop from 9am until we close – but come the back end of the season it’s not too bad. If we’re quiet I’ll get the chance to grab a cuppa and read the day’s paper or grab a golf magazine and keep up with what’s happening.

If it’s a tournament day – I’ll spend the morning at home if it’s local or driving to the course if it’s further afield. There are a few, in Keswick and Windermere, where I’ll drive down the day before and stay in a hotel. We play Pro-ams from April – October where we’ll play with three amateur players for a team aggregate. The professionals also play for an individual purse, around £450 for first place in an 18-hole event. We used to play for a lot more seven or eight years ago but the number of teams has gone down a lot in that time. I can remember 40 plus teams going out, whereas now you’re looking at 20–25 teams, but that’s just how times have changed, particularly in the last couple of years with the recession.

I’ll get to a tournament about an hour or so before we need to be on the tee. I only warm up for about half an hour, there’s nothing worse than overdoing it at the start and flagging towards the end of the round.

I remember playing at the Crook Pro-Am a few years back. I started really well, going out in three-under par. On the back nine the weather turned and I dropped five shots coming back. By the time we’d finished, the greens were flooded and they cut the tournament down to nine holes. So I went from 20 something up to second – I’d take that most days.

For lunch it again depends where I am and how busy. At the unit it can be pretty much non-stop in the summer so it’s a case of lunch on the run. I’ll be lucky if I can grab a cuppa and a sandwich, especially at the weekends. In the off-season it’s a lot easier, I can maybe take an hour or so, read a paper and have a decent lunch.

In the afternoons the unit gets a little quieter. It’s a good time to catch up on club repairs, which I quite enjoy doing. From about 4pm onwards we pick up again, particularly on the teaching side.

If it’s a tournament I’ll either head back home in the evening or, if it’s a pro-event, I might have to stay over for the second day’s play. I don’t think I’ll ever stop playing golf. Whether I keep my professional status, we’ll have to wait and see. It all comes down to whether you’ve got the passion to work at the game or you want to go back to playing the game as a hobby. I’d love to play a few of the senior events – but that’s still a while away yet.

If I’m at the unit I’ll get away between 6pm and 7pm. Then it’s straight to the range where I’ll have a few lessons. It’s great in the summer with the light nights but later in the year it gets a bit too dark and cold and it’s not the best thing to do with your evenings.

During the season I get the odd night to myself but – playing professionally – I’ll have to practice – particularly ahead of tournaments. It’s a lot of effort to keep up to the high standard we compete at week-in week-out on the circuit. Natural ability comes into it but there’s no substitute for hard work. People used to say that Seve (Ballesteros) was a natural player. But he said it best – there’s nothing natural about practising until your hands bleed. That’s the commitment you have to have to the game to be able to compete every week.

When it’s busy I can leave the range as late as 9pm – which takes quite a lot out of you. From there I haven’t got a great amount of time to spend with Adam and Kerry. If we’re lucky we’ll get the chance to go out – I really enjoy going to restaurants with friends and family – it’s great to get that time to relax. We don’t do it often enough in the summer but we do spend a bit more time together in the off-season. It’s this time of year when we’ll take a family holiday – I love America in November – the golf season in the UK is over, so work’s quiet. It’s also a lot milder in the States so I can get a bit of golf in while I’m over there.

If we’re in the house we might have a glass of wine after putting Adam to bed. It might sound like the last thing you’d want to do but I actually do like to go home and watch a bit of the golf on TV. I tend to catch the live coverage of the PGA Tour as it’s shown in the evenings but I’ll watch the European Tour highlights as well. If I’m absolutely knackered I’ll grab a book and head off to bed. I’ve just finished reading Lee Trevino’s autobiography – I tend to read golf books, anything that can enhance your knowledge of the game is a good read.

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About Dean Bailey
I'm currently in my third year at Sunderland University, studying Sports Journalism. I'm interested in a wide variety of sports but golf is my passion. (I follow Newcastle United FC, Newcastle Falcons, Newcastle Eagles, Whitley Warriors and Leeds Rhinos.) I currently play at Backworth Golf Club, with a handicap of 11. Follow me on Twitter: @deanbailey92 & @northeastgolf Or get in touch through email: deanbailey92@hotmail.co.uk

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