James Browning started playing golf when he was just five years old. 10 years later he came to the International Junior Golf Academy all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland, in the hopes of advancing his golf career. After graduating, he played college golf at USC-Aiken before transferring to USC-Beaufort his senior year. Browning graduated from USCB with a B.A. in Psychology in 2008 and then earned his Applied Golf Management Studies (AGMS) degree at the University of Birmingham.
We caught up with the PGA professional last month at the PGA Show.
IJGA: How did you hear about IJGA?
JB: In a magazine article, actually. I think it was displayed at my home club in Edinburgh. I picked up the magazine as a kid and thought, “Gosh this place looks like heaven for me” because I was really into my golf. I’d just started to play in tournaments and I’d had some good finishes. And I thought, this is great, this is going to be the place where I can get better and improve and try to get a golf scholarship, which was the whole sort of aim at that point in time. So it was fantastic. I came in [to IJGA] as I think a sophomore.
Were your parents supportive of you coming all the way to America or did it take some convincing?
It took a bit of convincing. My parents are kind of unique in that they kind of believe that people should just follow their passions and not be worried about too much. Just follow what you love doing and things will work out for the best in the long run if you do that.
That sounds like a great philosophy.
Yeah, it’s quite laid back. It depends what it was though; I think they were happy that I was interested in golf.
Would you mind sharing some of your favorite memories from your time at IJGA?
Favorite memories I think were just going to practice and the memories with the coaches after school. They’re the ones that stand out. I think the time at practice was just fantastic. It really made me fall in love with the game even more than I already was.
How would you say your time at IJGA influenced your career path?
Well, if I hadn’t gone to IJGA, I don’t think I would have gotten the golf scholarship to play for USC-Aiken. I think it was essential in giving me the amount of training I needed to make it through to the next level. And if I hadn’t made it through to the next level, I wouldn’t have ever turned professional and gotten into the industry. So it was pretty essential in helping me get to where I am today.
What were your most and least favorite things about working as a club professional at Brodick Golf Club?
My most favorite was the coaching and working with the juniors. I like to feel like I’m contributing to and helping kids realize their goals in golf. I like to feel like I’m growing the game and getting more people participating in the game. And I enjoy networking with other professionals as well to figure out how we can do things better. That was the most enjoyable thing. Least enjoyable was the long winters and the planning. It was so seasonal. You get four or five months of nothing and you have to rely on the good months to make all your money. And you go from nothing, very quiet, to hit the ground running and you have to make sure things work. Least favorite thing about it is it’s so seasonal.
What advice do you have for current IJGA students who want to play college golf?
Don’t become a range rat. Make sure you play enough golf. Golf is played on the golf course…We need to be adaptable, we need to be flexible. So learning on the golf course to adapt to the conditions and the environment and the different shots you need to play from a learning standpoint. Random practice and playing golf where you’re actually playing in competition is really important.