Olivia Cooke was four years old when her dad took her to Kings Hill in Kent to try golf for the first time.
“I was hooked from the start and still am,” she says. “To be honest, I knew at a very young age I wanted to turn professional, it was just a question of when. By the time I was 16, I was committed to taking golf a lot more seriously and that is when I attended a golf college and got my first handicap. I pushed myself for four years to get my handicap low enough to be eligible for the PGA course.”
What has been your career path to date?
I worked at an American Golf store for three years during my PGA training, where I coached on the driving range and also took on the retail side of the industry. I then got myself a coaching role at Redlibbets in Kent and, once I was qualified, was there for two years before I found out about my dream coaching role at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.
I have now been coaching at the Peter Cowen Golf Academy at Emirates for one season and will be back for my second season this month. Alongside this, I have succeeded in building a decent following on my social media channels, which I use to showcase who I am, what I do, and assist with helping my followers progress in their golfing journeys.
How did you hear about the role at the Emirates Club?
I lived in Dubai with my family between 2006 and 2009, and I grew up playing the junior competitions that were based at Emirates. I always knew I wanted to go back and work there, as it felt like my second home. I kept in contact with people at the club for several years after that and finally got offered a position a few weeks prior to me having to start the season. To get offered the role was a dream come true.
What do you think made you stand out from the other candidates?
I definitely see myself as niche. Being female in what is a largely male-dominated industry – which, I should add, is slowly changing for the better – was definitely a selling point, but I think sheer persistency and determination was key for me getting the job, because I made sure I was on the radar each season in case a position became available. As with anything you truly want in life, if you don’t push yourself, and strive for what you want, you won’t get it. I also think having lived there definitely helped and having a big social media presence was also a plus, as I am able to showcase the academy, the golf club, and Dubai as a whole, across all my channels.
How are you finding the role and what have been the highlights and the main challenges?
It’s been amazing, and I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I think what I am doing and where I am doing it. I love coaching, I’m working alongside a great team, and we have the very best facilities to do our jobs. I also have access to all the other golf in Dubai, which makes the job even better. The only real struggle I have found so far is moving away from my family on my own. However, due to the number of expats that travel on their own for work, it hasn’t been hard to find new friends, who I can honestly say, have become like family.
What are your day-to-day duties?
I coach at the club five days a week and do that alongside my social media work. We all work long days in Dubai, usually starting around 7-8am and working through to 8-9pm. This is only due to it being so hot during the middle of the day, so we have a few hours in that time to go to the gym, work on our own golf and eat lunch.
How would you describe your coaching style?
I like my clients to feel comfortable and that I am more of a friend than a coach. I get a lot of my clients tell me that my brutal honesty when coaching them is what they have always wanted to hear. I think this is why I have a lot of returning clients because they like my relaxed approach. Working under the Peter Cowen Academy, I have also taken a lot of Pete’s techniques and approaches on board and now teach a lot of Pete’s well -known drills and tips to my clients.
What are the main attractions of living and working in Dubai?
The lifestyle, the safety, the earning potential, the weather and the unbelievable golf courses I am able to practise on.
What future career ambitions do you have and where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I definitely see myself working towards getting on tour, however, I haven’t set a time frame as I am still young and there is no immediate rush. Coaching in Dubai helps my own game a lot and I have seen a huge improvement in the past year from just being able to practise and play more frequently. My other aspiration is to push the social media side to the point where I begin to travel a lot more, hopefully presenting and hosting at major golfing events.
What advice would you pass on to fellow and future PGA Members looking to work in Dubai?
Don’t have a second thought… just go for it!
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