Becoming a PGA Member: Steps 9 & 10

Keep an eye out for my Level 2 Study Guide, which I’ll be posting in the coming days.

Welcome to the rinse and repeat stage of the PGA Class A Certification process! For those of you scoring at home, Level 2 is exactly like Steps 6 & 7 in Level 1 once you get to the Work Experience Portfolio and the Portfolio approval process.

Here are some words of wisdom: once you submit your Portfolio to a PGA Education faculty member for grading, start studying. The goods news is that I’ve done most of the dirty work for you. To access my Level 2 Study Guide, simply click here.

I will say this – I’m not sure who decided it would be a good idea to test PGA Apprentices on 487 pages of material at one time, but that’s the reality of what you’re looking at. And unlike the 461 pages over five sections covered in Level 1, Level 2 does it in four. It’s a daunting task! I have two theories: that this is either another way of weeding-out candidates or it’s a money-maker for the PGA and testing centers like PSI Exams. More on that theory in a moment.

I submitted my Portfolio for grading on Friday, November 10th. Because Bill Cioffoletti at PGA Education is the man, he only needed about a day’s notice to be able to cherry-pick my Portfolio once it was submitted. In classic Bill fashion, I got an email saying it had been approved exactly ten days later, and the day after that (within the 5 business days promised), I got another email from PSI Exams inviting me to register to schedule my Level 2 Battery.

Sorry, folks. No cell phones (and no pictures) allowed inside the testing center.

Testing Day
Flash forward to inside the testing center. That’s what everyone wants to know about right? The exams are taken on a computer. Don’t forget to bring your PSI Exams-assigned password with you. It’s the six-digit code you get when you log-in to schedule your exam, and you’ll need it to sign into the testing portal and unlock the test battery. I don’t remember needing this for Level 1, so that was new.

The other thing I don’t remember about the Level 1 Test Batter was getting to select the order in which I took the exams! That’s huge. By my count, there were at least 15 formulas that needed to be memorized in Merchandising and Inventory Management alone, not to mention the dozen or so swing weight measurements for Intermediate Teaching and Golf Club Alteration.

I elected to take the Merchandising and Inventory Management exam at the very end so I could pop out for a quick bathroom break and look over my flash cards one last time.

The first test I took was Golf Operations. It was a 55-question exam that took me roughly 40 minutes to complete (including the time it took me to review my answers). Of the 55 questions, only 50 questions are scored at random. Up next was Intermediate Teaching and Golf Club Alteration, another 55-question exam that took me a little more than 30 minutes to complete, and then Turfgrass Management.

Turfgrass Management and Merchandising and Inventory Management were only 33 questions each (again, only 30 are scored at random). Turfgrass management took me 15 minutes, and Merchandising and Inventory Management took me about 35 minutes because of all the formulas. I had plenty of time to spare after each exam. The 176 questions went by very quickly.

You can email yourself your results right from the test computer.

Looking back, I probably should have taken a little more time on the Turfgrass Management section. Much like Golf Car Fleet Management in Level 1, I failed to get the 70% or higher necessary to pass. Because the exams are on a computer, the results are instantaneous, which is great! You’ll know whether or not you pass or fail right away, and there’s even a button you can click on to email yourself the test results after each exam.

As you’re reviewing your answers before final submit each exam to be graded, your anxiety level really starts to ramp-up. Once you get to the end of your review, you think, “This is it!” and hope for the best. Again, it’s great that the results are instantaneous, but it’s also nerve-racking as hell! You just want to pass at least one section so you don’t have to take it again and so you don’t feel like a total failure.

I try to temper my expectations and not put too much pressure on myself going in. If I fail to pass just one exam each time, I think I’m doing pretty well. It’s a ton of material to cover while maintaining a professional and a personal life. My wife and I just welcomed our first child in July. I’ll say this, you really gotta want it!

Cost: $78
Running Total: $6,125.99

Scheduling a Re-Take
And that takes me back to my second theory: that these Test Batteries can turn into real money-makers for the PGA and PSI Exams. Less than 24 hours after failing Turfgrass Management, I got another email inviting me to register to schedule my re-take. It’s $32 each time. Do the math on that: $78 for four tests, and $32 for one test. Somehow, that just doesn’t add up. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s once again time for me to pay my $32 to the PSI Exams fairy.

Much like I did following Golf Car Fleet Management (see Extra Credit at the end of the Study Guide), I went back over Turfgrass Management with a fine-toothed comb and made another, separate study guide. If you know the information on this study guide, there’s no way you can fail. I was in-and-out of the re-take in about ten minutes, including the time it took me to review my answers. In fact, it took me more time to drive to the testing center and go through their check-in process than it did to take the exam. Not very efficient. I guess it pays to pass the first time!

Cost: $32
Running Total: $6,157.99

Next On the Tee
Register for the PGM 2.0 Level 3 Seminar back in Florida. I’m already starting another savings account. Before you can register for the Seminar, you have to pay register into Level 3 and the online pre-seminar courses, another $350.

To earn your PGA Certification, at some point, you have to pass a PAT.

Previous Steps
Step 1 – In order to become a PGA member, you first have to become a registered apprentice and go through the PGA Professional Golf Management (PGA PGM) Program. It takes up to three years to complete all 11 steps. Step 1 is pretty self-explanatory. To register into the PGA PGM Program, you have to register or re-register as an apprentice and complete a Background Check. (Cost: $58.99)

Step 2 – You’re not considered a PGA Apprentice until you satisfy all the requirements at the Qualifying Level and register as an apprentice. At the Qualifying Level, applicants must complete three online courses: Introduction to the PGM and the Golf Profession, PGA History and Constitution, and Rules of Golf 1 as well as pass a knowledge test based on the three courses. (Cost: $200)

PGA Qualifying Test – This 90-minute, 75 question test is administered by PSI Exam centers nationwide. The test covers three online courses: Introduction to the PGM and the Golf Profession, PGA History and Constitution, and Rules of Golf 1. A clean, unmarked copy of the Rules of Golf is permitted into the testing center and a score of 70% is required to pass. (Cost: $40)

Step 3
– The 36-hole, one-day Playing Ability Test (PAT) at a PGA Approved Golf Course requires a target score within 15 shots of the course rating in order to pass. The $160 total cost includes the $100 pre-registration fee as well another $60 paid on-site to cover the cost of green fees, cart fee, range balls, and lunch. (Cost: $160)

Step 4 – Print out the PGA PGM Program Application, get it signed by your Current Employer/Intermediate Supervisor, and then fax or email it back to the PGA. Be sure to include proof of your highest level of education and a copy of Work Permit or Employment Visa if you’re not a U.S. Citizen.

The last page of the application is a combination of National Fees ($60), Section Fees ($250), Liability Insurance ($25), Life Insurance ($34), a Registration Fee ($200), and the Level 1 Online Course Access Fee ($560). Once your registration is approved, you’ll have access to the Level 1 courses through the PGA Knowledge Center. (Cost: $1,129)

Step 5 – Register for the PGM 2.0 Level 1 Seminar in Florida
The all-inclusive package includes five days of classes, airfare to West Palm Beach (from the city you prefer to fly out of), lodging for the week (it’s $500 more for your own hotel room if you don’t want to share with another Apprentice for the five days), ground transportation, and breakfast and lunch each day. (Cost: $2,000)

Apprentices registered after January 1, 2010, can view and/or download PGA PGM 2.0 curriculum information online.

Step 6 – Level 1 Work Experience Portfolio
The average student takes 26 months to pass Level 1: the Portfolio and all five tests. That’s ridiculous! In the right environment, a properly motivated Apprentice can easily complete the task in less than two months. It’s not difficult, but it is time consuming and, at times, tedious. (Cost: $0)

Step 7 – Level 1 Test Battery
The five-test battery consists of 240 questions and took a little more than 90 minutes to complete. Check out the study guide I posted here, and really focus on the Golf Car Fleet Management section, which more Apprentices fail than any other. (Cost: $78, Retakes: $32)

Step 8 – Register for the PGM 2.0 Level 2 Seminar in Florida
This is just like Step 5. The PGA is now working with a new travel agency called Omega World Travel, but the accommodations are still the same: airfare to West Palm Beach from whichever city you prefer, lodging, and two meals per day. Oh, and don’t forget about the $350 access fee for the Level 2 online pre-seminar courses, which you have to pay beforehand. (Cost: $2,350)

If you’ve been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor or equivalent, you should submit documentation to the PGA Membership Department to determine eligibility for PGA Membership prior to proceeding. Per the PGA Code of Ethics, certain transgressions are cause for permanent preclusion to PGA Membership.

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