Anthony Caira CCM has over 20 years experience as a Director of Golf having held positions at Kirkaldy GC and Kirriemuir GC in Scotland. Anthony, who gained his CCM in 2013 has recently taken up the role of head professional at Education City Golf Club in Qatar.
In this Q&A Anthony explains about his Italian heritage, how he got into golf and the lowdown on his move to Qatar.
You are a descendant from an Italian family. Do you still feel strong connections to Italy and your Italian roots?
All my Grandparents were Italian and so as a child I spent many summer holidays in Southern Italy. I am extremely proud of my heritage, the Italians after all were a tough lot, some choosing to take that great leap of faith by migrating to Scotland only to be quickly marched back home during the war. Despite such adversity many returned to make extremely successful lives for themselves. My own dad competed in five consecutive Commonwealth Games, bringing home two gold medals for his expert weight lifting. He ran a café/corner shop, like many Italians did, and I was fascinated at how disciplined he was, doing his strength training in the back shop at every opportunity. When he retired from this he took up golf, encouraging me to do likewise. I got the ultimate bug and as they say the rest is history. Many of my formative years were spent in St Andrews, home of golf, where my mother, the daughter of Italian ice cream selling immigrants was born. My Scottish wife, Donna and daughters Julia and Olivia are now complete converts to all things Italian and Tuscany is our go to for holidays.
What attracted you to the Head Professional role at Education City Golf Club and what do you miss most about Fife?
My profession in golf has given me opportunities I might only ever have imagined. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to develop both as a coach and a manager, but this has been largely based in Scotland. As golf is a worldwide sport I always considered that at some stage in my career I would like to share my skills and knowledge overseas. When I learned that Education City Golf Club were looking for a Head Professional, it seemed the ideal opportunity to do just that. I’ve always had a massive passion for personal development and education and upon reading the vision and mission statement of the Golf Club I knew immediately I wanted to be involved. I am excited to have been appointed as Head Professional as the role is the perfect balance of teaching and management. The new facility is very much centred around a holistic approach to teaching golf, something I am very keen to promote, and with all the latest technology, a gymnasium, physio rooms, specialised studio for putting and 3D analysis, the Centre of Excellence is one of the best in the world, and one I am extremely proud to be connected with. I’ve only been in Qatar for three weeks so it’s early days to be missing too much about Fife (certainly not the weather), but I do miss my family.
How have you managed the change in culture from teaching golf in Scotland to now teaching in the Middle East?
There is a vibrant overseas market for golf therefore it’s business as usual, however many of the Qatarie nationals are new to golf. In a lot of ways this is a unique but gratuitous position to be in as a teacher, as back home in Scotland most people are not starting from scratch and will have undoubtedly picked up a golf club before and unfortunately some bad habits along the way. Largely we are starting afresh out here and promoting golf as a fun learning experience with interactive technology on the range and a bit of music and food to ease people in on their golf journey. We have a Championship 18 hole course,a nine hole par 3 course and a unique 6 hole championship with 7 different tee positions as we appreciate not all players have the time for 18. We have been able to overcome cultural barriers by creating separate outside private areas for teaching the Qatarie Ladies and we have employed a Lady Professional.
You run your own business producing golf energy snacks. What business lessons can you take from this experience that you can integrate into your work life as a PGA pro?
I have always had a very keen interest in nutrition and especially how we fuel during a round of golf. On the course I was snacking on bags of dried fruit and nuts, a great source of energy, but not the most convenient. This got me thinking about developing a snack that pulled out all the punches, but was much easier to eat. After a great deal of experimenting, I created an edible golf ball shaped energy snack, calling it Niblick69. My idea didn’t necessarily start out as a big business venture, but something more that I could use in my own health plan. However the more people tasted and enjoyed it, the more I began to think it should be rolled out to other like minded folk. Anyone starting their own business will appreciate that it is not an easy journey and there were and still are steep learning curves. I suppose the overriding one is that you have to be a problem solver, looking at the bigger picture and realising that Rome, (yes I’m Italian) was not built in a day. Things take time, but if you dedicate yourself to that end goal, anything is achievable. People management, staff motivation task setting, and thinking outside the proverbial box are all lessons well learned.
How proud were you when you passed the CCM exam, can you categorise how you felt with another achievement in your life?
As one of the very first PGA Professionals to pass this examination, I was of course extremely proud to be awarded this certification. I now actively encourage other Professionals to enrol in this educational journey as I do believe that it played a very significant part in me gaining my appointment at Education City Golf Club. It’s up there with landing my first Head Professional job at 22 (and of course making my first plate of spaghetti from scratch)