Andrew Lenard Berg takes a break from a round of golf at Poland Spring Golf Course in Poland earlier this week.

Andrew Lenard Berg takes a break from a round of golf at Poland Spring Golf Course in Poland earlier this week.

POLAND — Andrew Lenard Berg has had a passion for golf since he entered Fryeburg Academy in 2009.

He worked in the pro shop at North Conway Country Club in high school, but it wasn’t until working in the golf department Dicks Sporting Goods in South Portland while at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, where he was studying Business Administration/Sports Management, that he decided to take his passion to the next level. Lenard Berg originally planned to become a baseball coach.

After watching customers hit balls in the hitting bay all day and taking a few swings swings himself during his shifts, he knew he wanted to be more than just a club fitter.

He decided to enroll in the PGA Apprentice program with the PGA of America to start a career path to becoming a PGA professional. It wasn’t his first option.

“I played golf all the way through high school, and I started working as a club fitter after my freshman year and really fell in loved with it then,” Lenard Berg said. “I was working in going to Golf Academy of America and wanting to take that step rather than what I was going for. That didn’t quite pan out and I found out about the Apprentice program, which is the stage I am at now, which is getting work experience more than actually going to school. I happened to get lucky and got a job quick.”

He was the captain of the Fryeburg Academy golf team from his sophomore through senior seasons before graduating in 2013. He also spent time with the St. Joe’s golf team.

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Lenard Berg is in his third year in the PGA Apprentice program after leaving St. Joe’s in 2015, and his first year working at as an assistant professional at The Links at Poland Spring.

The PGA Apprentice program is a mix of course work and work experience. Applicants first have to register for a playing test that consists of 36 holes in which players have to hit or beat a target score. For example, if the course rating is 72, the target score for the 36 holes would be 159 (72 x 2 = 144 + 15 = 159).

According to PGA of America, fewer than 20 percent of those taking the test achieve a passing score. One of those rounds also has to be equal to or less than the PAT target score for 18 holes, plus five strokes.

After taking the playing test, candidates have to take qualifying tests, which consists of Introduction to the PGM and the Golf Profession and PGA History and Constitution and Rules of Golf 1 before they can work at a golf course.

Trying to stand out

Like any field, the PGA Apprentice program is competitive and apprentices have to set themselves apart from others, especially to find golf jobs in the South during the winter.

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Lenard Berg is trying to set himself apart by vlogging his way to becoming a PGA Pro. He has his own YouTube channel called Small Town Golf Academy.

It started out as a vlog with few of his friends.

“It started as Small Town Golf, and we wanted to tie it in where we are all from,” Lenard Berg said. “It’s a couple of buddies of mine and I primarily, and we are all from Fryeburg. We are from “small town America” and we really wanted to brand ourselves that way. We liked to make videos, we were filmmakers more than we were product reviewers or anything like that. So, we just made videos. We had all the camera gear and said, “We like golf, we like to play golf a lot. Why don’t we put two of them together?” We put some stuff up.

“The academy (part came) when I was looking at branding myself to get better positions as I move forward. Using it to build up a resume and really distinguished what I wanted to do from just making videos for the sake of making videos. That’s where the academy came in. My goal in this business is to be teaching full-time.”

His end goal is to to work at a golf academy making YouTube videos while teaching and making product reviews.

Lenard Berg started to vlog at his first two work stops in the apprentice program, the Ridgewood Country Club in Moultonborough, New Hampshire, in 2015, and Wentworth Golf Club in Jackson, New Hampshire, in 2016. He and his buddies either asked golf courses or went during a low peak times to shoot all or parts of their rounds. Most golf courses didn’t mind.

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While his videos aren’t going viral, but they are making an impact.

“It’s gaining traction,” Lenard Berg said. “I get a lot of people who watch them and not say much of anything. For the first time last year I had someone come play at the Wentworth because they had watched my videos. It was a video that gotten 65 views or something like that. One of the 65 people who watched it other than myself, came and played the course. That was nice.”

Lenard Berg also has taken videos at the Greater New England Golf Expo and during a trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where watched the PGA Tour’s Heritage Classic.

Teaching juniors

Part of Lenard Berg’s duties this summer while at Poland Spring is being an instructor for the junior golf clinics, which started June 23. There’s five more lessons on June 26, June 30, July 3, July 5 and July 10. Each lesson focuses on a different part of the game. Players can still sign up. The cost is $15 per lesson. For more information, contact the pro shop at 207-68-998-6002.

He hopes the teaching experience he gains from teaching young golfers and the videos he has made will hopefully lead to more opportunities for him, especially this winter.

“The next step is hopefully go south this winter,”  Lenard Berg said. “In a perfect world I would pick up when we close up here or just before. Pick up and go south this winter and kind of continue working through the bookwork, getting lesson experience, making money to keep paying for it, continue that. In the spring, come back up.

“I’ve done it twice and it hasn’t worked out that way. I am happy with whatever and I am looking forward to go down south, that’s the plan. I am really working to build myself up so when I put in for positions in the south I can set myself apart.”

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Andrew Lenard Berg takes a break from a round of golf at Poland Spring Golf Course in Poland earlier this week.

Andrew Lenard Berg takes a break from a round of golf at Poland Spring Golf Course in Poland earlier this week.

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