PGA Professional at Mount Lawley Golf Club.
Support Specialist at golf software provider MiClub.
Wife and mother to two boys.
There are few spare moments in the week of Perth-based PGA Professional Emma Liebenau but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I feel like I’ve got the best of both worlds. I’m really, really lucky,” says Liebenau.
“I coach Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings, Thursday evenings, and then do a bit of MyGolf for schools as well. I do one day a week in the office for MiClub and then one day a week from home.
“I’ve always been flat out, Saturday, Sunday for so many years and then I realised that now the boys are full-time at school I needed to be a mum on the weekends.”
After moving from Darwin to Perth as an eight-year-old, Liebenau began attending the junior girls golf days run by Kay Lane before progressing to Melville Glades where she became a junior member.
With talent and persistence Liebenau developed to the point where she was selected to represent Australia in the Tasman Cup team but by 15 began to develop back problems that would curtail her playing days.
Even after it was suggested to her by her dad, himself a PGA Professional, that she explore the coaching route through the PGA it took special consideration to begin a traineeship.
“I tried to start my traineeship, but my back was just too bad,” she recalls.
“I played one round and I just said to them, ‘I can’t do this. My back’s not good.’
“Gavin Kirkman and Troy O’Hern were the big drivers of getting me an exemption, because this was before flexible arrangements. I was playing off 0.5 just before then so I got an exemption on my playing history, given my back condition, which I had to support with letters from surgeons outlining that it was a real injury.
“From memory Gavin told me that I was the first person to receive such an exemption.”
Liebenau completed her traineeship under the legendary Ross Metherell at Collier Park, got married and had her two boys in that time and was shortly after invited to Mount Lawley to help develop a junior program that today is the envy of many Australian clubs.
Working in cohort with Sue Thomson and Julie Lepp, Liebenau set about putting in place junior clinics with structure and consistency that parents could rely on and kids could look forward to.
“Once you create those opportunities of eight-week courses, provide structure in the lessons, turn up on time, get the basics right, you develop trust with parents. And make it fun,” she adds.
“When those juniors are ready to progress to the next level, you create another class and allow them to grow. That coaching pathway allows parents to see that their kids are developing.
“We also have a playing pathway. We’ve just introduced a five-hole modified course on a monthly basis on a Sunday afternoon that Sue and Julie are running and from there they graduate to the nine-hole
course on Sunday where they can gain a handicap on the gold tees. Then they go from gold to red, then up to 18.
“It’s a slow burn but the club have recognised that juniors are the future of the club.”
Mixed in with her coaching duties is 18 hours per week with MiClub, further expanding Liebenau’s skill set and giving her cause to consider a potential move into club management in future.
“I can’t believe what I’ve learned,” says Liebenau, who has been assisting clubs in her part-time role for the past two years.
“I’ve learned some basic coding – very basic – but it’s really good to be in a really professional team in an office environment, just to see how that works.
“If I ever get a golf operations role or anything like that, it complements what I’m doing. I’m getting to speak with clubs all over Australia and people that I used to play golf with who are now golf ops managers now.
“I just love the balance. I love the IT side of it and I do think club management could be something I explore down the track.
“Golf operations would definitely be something I’d consider in the future but things will happen when they’re meant to happen.
“I know that sounds crazy, but sometimes you just keep plugging away and they’ll happen when it’s the time.”