Training to become a golf professional seems like a natural progression for Neangar Park Golf Club’s Braiden Connor.
The 20-year-old from Kangaroo Flat has been swinging a club since he can remember and has always dreamed of being a pro.
Now Connor is adding a few extra clubs to his career golf bag during a three-year apprenticeship under Neangar professional Erik Hendrix.
Once complete, the traineeship will enable Connor to coach and work at golf courses, while also giving him the chance to chase a professional playing career, if he chooses.
“I’ve always wanted to do it growing up, it’s what I’ve always dreamed of and I just didn’t think I’d get a chance in Bendigo,” Connor said.
“I’ll be learning how to coach, how to run a business, doing all the schools so pretty much at the end of it I can go and try to coach, run a business or go out and play.”
With a handicap of plus-one Connor could be on his way to joining the likes of former Neangar Park star Andrew Martin in professional ranks.
“I’m trying to get down to scratch, that’s the next goal,” he said.
“I’m out here every day, practising or playing every single day.
“I spend heaps of time down the range with Erik just learning new things, you can never stop learning.
“(Playing professional events) shouldn’t be too far away I hope.
“I’ve got my first trainee event next Monday down at Mornington.”
As a PGA trainee, Connor will play for cash against other apprentices and has his eye on the state trainee titles at Rich River Golf Club next month.
Connor is Neangar Park’s first PGA trainee and is the first to be trained by Hendrix, who came to Bendigo last year to work at the pro shop at the Averys Road course, as well as coach.
“I went through that path myself,” Hendrix said.
“It’s just a good way for the youngers to learn a skill and take that avenue in life,” Hendrix said.
Connor must study by correspondence, play on Mondays and hold an average, work in the shop and coach.
“If they pass all of those they get their professional status so they can teach, run a shop and play,” Hendrix said.
“The guys you see on the tour are qualified to play only.”