Too much had been invested to walk away pain-free.
A member of the West Australian amateur team alongside Minjee Lee, a Karrie Webb Scholarship recipient and rated the No.1 amateur in the country, Jessica Speechley had all the hallmarks of a star on the rise.
A regular member of the Golf Australia National Squad, Speechley was a rookie on the Japan LPGA Tour in 2013 before a hip injury and financial pressures brought her playing career to a premature end.
She and her mother – who had raised her and her twin sister as a single parent – both took it hard in their own ways, the pair not speaking for more than two years as they both pondered what might come next.
If the story didn’t take a positive turn it would be a cautionary tale and not one of opportunity, of the unplanned path being the journey Speechley was in fact destined to travel all along.
“I always thought I was going to succeed. I had goals to be No.1 and play on the LPGA,” Speechley says.
Yet when those dreams faded it was the man who had guided her on that path in the first place who found a way to steer her passion for golf into a new direction.
“It was actually my coach, Craig Bishop, who said, ‘Why don’t you do the PGA Bridging Program?’” explains Speechley, who now works as a PGA Teaching Professional at Joondalup Resort in Perth.
“I applied everywhere and couldn’t even get a job at Bunnings. I had to stick to the golf industry and that’s what I did.
“I thank him to this day for pushing me through that because otherwise, I wouldn’t be in the industry. And I’m loving coaching; it’s fantastic.
“I never really thought of coaching really but I’m glad I am now. Otherwise, I don’t know what I’d be doing, to be honest.”
Formerly known as the PGA Bridging Program, the PGA Tour Professional Articulation provides a pathway to membership of the PGA of Australia for those who have shown a high level of playing proficiency, generally those who have played on a worldwide tour.
It eliminates the playing requirement found within the Membership Pathway Program and provides a condensed timeline to become a PGA-accredited coach.
Conceding that diving back into the books was a battle at first, Speechley completed the course in two years and has a specific interest in encouraging more women to take up the game.
“My goal is to get as many females involved as possible,” she says.
“It’s such a male-dominant sport and at this point I mainly teach females and junior girls. My goal is just to get them to take over the men,” Speechley adds with a laugh.
With Bishop now serving as a mentor to her coaching, Speechley’s style is evolving from the player she was to the coach she wants to be.
Driven by statistics and numbers in her playing days, Speechley now complements her coaching with technology such as TrackMan with a primary emphasis on keeping her instruction simple.
“I do have to pick and choose, especially when I am coaching a lady,” Speechley explains of her use of technology.
“They don’t want to see themselves on video because they’re quite self-conscious. Beginners, I never show videos. Obviously if they get better, I start to show them positions.
“What I’ve learned from Craig is his enthusiasm, his love for the game and just wanting to see improvement.
“When I see improvement in students, I get so excited. And I love seeing all the ladies get excited. That’s what pushes me and pumps me to keep doing what I’m doing.
“It was a tough transition period from not playing obviously but once I got into the Bridging Program, my passion just fired up again.”
• Whatever your background or prior experience there is a job in the Australian golf industry available to you. To explore the various opportunities within the golf industry visit pga.org.au/education/academy