Joe Hallett, PGA: From Accountant to Award Winning PGA Professional: The Story of Joe Hallett
By Adam Stanley
Joe Hallett was a junior accountant who used to navigate assets and liabilities in his cubicle 25 years ago. Joe Lopez, a long-standing PGA Professional, called him one day to ask him to run his golf shop at Ocala Natal in Florida. He had just qualified for the PGA Tour Champions.
Lopez couldn’t pay Hallett what he was getting at the accounting firm, but that, Hallett says, was really OK.
“’Don’t worry,’” Hallett recalls saying with a laugh, “’I have my desk halfway cleared out.’”
Its time to teach
Hallett’s been a PGA Professional for 26 years now and recently received his PGA Master Professional status earlier this year. Hes now based at the Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tennessee. This is the culmination of a decades-long career that has helped both weekend warriors as well as some of the most skilled golfers in history.
Although he’s still got that accounting degree at his house somewhere, his role as a PGA Coach to a few legendary names whove graced the LPGA Tour is the job he’s loved fully and completely.
Lopez, Hallett says, saw him try to get to PGA Tour’s Q-School for a third time and advised that maybe teaching would be the good path for him. Hallett was worried about his patience level at the time. He didn’t have any for his own game, he admits with a laugh, but after missing at Q-School for the third time he took Lopez up on his offer.
“I went to Q-School and got close and didn’t make it,” says Hallett. “But five days later when I helped a guy hit a drive and he says, ‘I’ve never hit a ball like that in my life,’ well, I was hooked.”
As a kid, Hallett’s family moved to a home in Miami on the Biltmore Golf Course. He finished high school and was accepted to Furmans team. He graduated with that degree in accounting (“My father always said you’re not going to college to learn to be a golfer,” Hallett says with a laugh) and managed financial statements for three years before Lopez came calling.
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Hallett recalls that the partner of the accounting firm was okay with him leaving. Although he knew he would always have the job, the opportunity to pursue his passion was more important. This was his first venture into professional golf.
“I played poorly on almost every Tour except the PGA Tour because I played poorly enough to never get there,” a smiling Hallett says. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great instructors over the years though, by being in the right place and having good connections.”
A life-changing email
Fast forward to the early 2000s and Hallett was part of the PGA of America’s Education Faculty overseeing the Association’s Professional Golf Management Program. Charlie Yoo, a Black Bear Golf Club instructor in Mt. Dora, Florida was just down the street from Halletts place of work at the time. Yoo had five students in his program, but the course got sold and there wasn’t anywhere for him to take them, so he brought them to Hallett’s club.
One student kept asking him endless questions. He ended up caddying her on the Epson Tour (now Epson Tour) as well as a little bit on LPGA Tour because she was getting early-career exemptions.
Her name was Inbee.
Park, of course, has gone on to have a Hall of Fame-caliber career and won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship three straight times, from 2013-2015. His effort with Park got him into the LPGA Tour’s arena.
Halletts next major coaching success came after he spent time at the PGAs Center for Golf Learning and Performance, Port St. Lucie. He was hired for a job there but was asked to come down a few weeks early because they were going to shoot a special on CBS called ‘Get Golf Ready.’ Everything, Hallett says, was fun. On the last day, the students were allowed to play on a golf course with J.J. Henry and Stacy Lewis, a major champion.
Lewis and Hallett became fast close friends.
“I got a really cool email six months later that I still have, something like, ‘I know we spent some time talking and I feel like I’m here with my game and would you be interested in spending more time together and see if we could take things to the next level.’ That’s one of those things you don’t realize is a life-changing email until you get one,” says Hallett.
It turns out that Lewis, who was recently named Captain of the 2024 U.S. Solheimcup Team, was also an accounting major. The pair had a lot in common.
Hallett’s seen some the best in the world up close and is quick to say how impressive and athletic the LPGA Tour swings have become lately. They’re all athletes, he says. He worked with Ryan O’Toole for about five years, and they went to the gym together during one of O’Toole’s visits to Hallett. While Hallett was on the treadmill with the sun barely risen, O’Toole was doing box jumps four-feet high.
“I’ve stood on the first tee next to 40-year-old guys who are out at the event and Stacy or Nelly (Korda) hits the ball and they go ‘holy you-know-what’ and then they realize the ladies are playing the same tee they do but are hitting it further. It all becomes very relevant. They want to know how to do that,” says Hallett.
Whether it’s helping some of the best in the world or those inspired by them, Hallett’s still working with numbers – but being a PGA Professional is just a way more fun way of doing it.