Drew Dubberlin 06
 
Drew Dubberlin has spent his life working under pressure.
 
For 12 years, he played and taught golf in Asia, working long hours teaching and practicing at the driving range to earn a living. 
 
Playing tournaments, where one wrong choice could easily see you go from a winning position to missing the cut and a slice of the prize purse.
 
Drew said he saw similarities between the skills needed to succeed on the golf course and the skills needed to excel in policing.
 
“The key that I relate golf, coaching, teaching, caddying to police is working under pressure and working under pressure quickly, here and now, not I’ve got an assignment due in a month,” he said.
 
“It’s like what is happening right here, right now? How do I need to act? What do I need to say? Right now, what is going to diffuse the situation in policing or diffuse the situation as a caddy, coach or player?
 
“I was working under that pressure even though you are walking around hitting golf balls, you are playing a sport that some people say isn’t athletic but you are out there for a long time. 
 
You are in the heat and you can make one decision, you can choose one wrong club and hit that shot in the wrong spot and it goes in the water and your tournament is gone, finished.” 
 
He turned his back on professional golf six years ago when he began serving as a police auxiliary officer with the WA Police Force. 
 
Now Drew is embarking on a career on the frontline as a probationary constable, in arguably one of the most difficult times faced by police in Western Australia.
 
He started at the academy with Gold Squad 10/2019 in October 2019 and five weeks before they were due to graduate, the squad was eating crib on a Friday afternoon in March 2020 when they were told to meet at the Raked Theatre at 2pm.
 
"You are hearing the whispers around the academy that things are happening with this COVID-19,” Drew said.
 
“We get to the Raked Theatre. There is a table with a big box of certificates, police badges and epilates and we are like what’s going on here. Next minute, they were saying we’ve got good news and bad news.
 
“The good news is you guys are going to be walking out of here as probationary constables, not recruits and you start on Monday. 
 
“At this stage, the bad news is you are not going to have a graduation, not going to have a ceremony and your friends and family are not going to be able to see you march out.”
 
Drew said the reaction of the squads were mixed.
 
“Our heads were spinning for days. If it wasn’t so big, the pandemic, the state emergency we are going through, I think we would be a little bit annoyed.
 
“It is such a different time. This is a worldwide pandemic and everything is changing. You understood it but you were a bit disappointed but we were excited because in two days’ time we’re going to be on the road.”
 
Gold Squad and their sister squad, Blue Squad 11/2019, were deployed to the academy as part of the COVID-19 Quarantine Unit whose role was to ensure that the community were adhering to quarantine requirements as well as other restrictions such as social gatherings.
 
“We are doing a job that no police officer has ever done. We are knocking on someone’s door to make sure they are home. You are going to people in parks, normal people not people creating noise or drinking, and saying look you can’t be here because it’s too many people, it’s weird policing,” Drew
told Police News. 
 
In his first six weeks on the frontline during the COVID-19 crisis, Drew said he had seen people facing immense hardship.
 
“You are pulling over people and people are just crying, distraught: ‘I know I did something wrong please don’t give me a fine, I’ve got no money’. It is just really different,” Drew said.
 
“You feel for people. You understand this person has just lost their job, I’ve just pulled them over, they are a little bit upset and you’ve just got to be realistic and fair to people that aren’t in a situation like I am. I’m lucky, I’ve got a good job and I’m secure and these people are losing their jobs.”
 
Even with the abrupt end to their training, Drew believes he and his colleagues are prepared for the frontline. 
 
“We’ve been told by several people and instructors at the academy that we were ready anyway,” he said. “I am a little bit biased but we’ve also been told that we were quite a switched on squad.
 
“We did a lot of socialising together very early as a squad which was kind of interesting because you get the groups that separate but we didn’t through the whole five months. 
 
“We all stuck together, worked as a team and if someone was having a tough time everyone jumped on board and helped that person. If someone needed to be pulled in line the same thing happened and I think that is why we worked really well as a squad.”
 
The son of a career firefighter, the ideal of helping people in their time of need was ingrained in him and his family. 
 
He had aspirations to become a police officer when he was a teenager. 
 
However, after spending hours on the fairways of Joondalup Country Club with his keen golfer father, Drew also had a passion and talent for golf. So much so that he was selected in junior and senior State squads throughout his late teens.
 
He decided to pursue a career in golf 100 per cent while he was young enough. 
 
“You are only going to be a golfer for so long. While you are fit, while you are younger and you don’t have the family and the mortgage, I thought I would give the golf a go with probably right in the back of my mind that I would like to do policing when I got a little bit older,” Drew said.
 
“I played a lot of amateur golf through my late teens, early twenties and then I hurt my shoulder being young and silly. I was going to go to the Australian Tour School to try and get my full Australian PGA Tour Card but injured myself and couldn’t go.”
 
Drew decided to undertake a PGA Traineeship under the guidance of legendary WA teaching professional David Milne, completing the program and turning pro in 2004.
 
“David was more based around coaching. Working for him I did a lot of teaching in my traineeship. I wasn’t an assistant golf pro sitting in a pro shop selling Mars bars and t-shirts, I was actively out teaching people,” Drew said.
 
“So by my early to mid-twenties, I grew a passion for teaching and in 2004 I finished my traineeship and went up to the Asian Tour School.”
 
If Drew gained his Asian Tour Card, it would have opened doors for him to play in major events and tournaments, really kick starting his touring career.
 
Devastatingly, he missed out on gaining his tour card by a single shot.
 
But it did open a significant door for his coaching career as he was offered the chance to coach the Singapore National Ladies Team, while pursuing his playing career on a number of secondary tours across Asia, playing tournaments in Singapore, India, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.
 
“It is hard to compete because it becomes a financial burden. You are trying to teach to make money but you also need to put all your effort in to practicing,” Drew said. 
 
“I was lucky as I was sponsored by Nike Golf for 10 years but it was more product, it wasn’t money. I was still paying for my own flights, own accommodation, travel costs, entry fees and then you come back from two weeks of touring and I’d come back to Singapore to teach.”
 
An average day saw him working long hours on the practice range, coaching in the morning and evenings while honing his own skills in the middle of the day. 
 
While he would teach all day Saturday and Sunday.
 
“You’ve got to adhere to when the market wants golf lessons but you’re trying to play and practice yourself. Golf is not one of those activities like F45 where you go for 45 minutes and you get fit, you need to practice, you need to put in six hours a day minimum,” Drew said.
 
“With the sport I did, I was commissioned-based for 12 years teaching golf. I didn’t have a salary, I paid my own superannuation, paid my own everything, if I was sick whether it was teaching or playing I didn’t get paid. So one day if you say: ‘I don’t feel really well today’ too bad, you’ve got to get up
and go coach, you’ve got to make money.” 
 
While playing and teaching, he also took up opportunities to caddy for fellow professionals in major tournaments.
 
He caddied in events on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and the Asian Tour.
 
“A couple of Singapore Opens were $8 million prize purses. Big names were playing, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods. As a caddy, if your player made the cut you’d start making some good money,” he said.
 
“One event I think I made about $10,000 as a caddy. What you would do is work your schedule around these big events, go caddy for someone because the money aspect was quite good but also the experience.
 
“As a potential player trying to get out there and as a coach, you had the best players in the world with their coaches and their entourage. You’re learning so much about the game and you’re trying to get involved and get amongst it.”
 
Drew said caddying depended a lot of what the player wanted and it had its challenges. 
 
“The guy I caddied for relied on me quite a lot to do the yardages. We would talk about what club to use, but he would do his own putting and every now and then if he wasn’t sure (what the putt was doing) he would ask for my advice.
 
“But when you are a caddy, you are a coach, a mentor, a psychologist, the enemy and a best friend. In a round of golf you go through so many emotions as a caddy because you are not in control but you are in control.
 
“If things go wrong they (the players) look at you but if everything is going right it is them, so you are a bit of a punching bag as well. 
 
“You just learnt so much about what to say, when to say it and how to say it. You are reading situations, you are reading his body language, head down, shoulders are kind of drooping and you’ve got to go to him: ‘C’mon man, let’s get up we can do this’ and vice versa. 
 
He might be pumped up blood’s flowing, adrenalin’s going and you need to say to him: ‘Hey c’mon, we need to just reel it back a little bit.” 
 
The long days in the heat and humidity of Singapore saw Drew decide to explore that desire to join the police force which he had put on the back burner in his late teens.
 
In 2013, he applied to become a police officer and police auxiliary officer.
 
“I had a meeting with a senior sergeant of recruitment and she said: ‘Your application is pretty good to proceed to police but our concern is, you’ve played golf your whole life. You’ve not really studied, you’ve not really been computer-based and the legislative side of things can be quite overwhelming,” Drew said.
 
“She said: ‘Why don’t you give the PAO a go for a little while and bearing in mind once you get police jargon and understand a little bit how it works apply for police.’ 
 
“I didn’t know much about the PAO role, then got amongst it and loved it. It was mind blowing, it opened my eyes to the world.”
 
Drew spent five years in the Perth Watch House, one year at Joondalup Police Station and he was the first police auxiliary officer to be seconded to regional WA when he completed a six-week stint in Kununurra.
 
He believes that the police auxiliary officer role within the WA Police Force is very under rated. 
 
“The PAO role teaches so many people about life skills in a controlled environment and what people are like,” he said.
 
“They are so important the PAOs, not just because I was one, but I see the role evolving. We are doing mental health escorts, hospital sits and helping out the police, assisting them so they can get back out on the road to help the frontline. I think the role
should just keep going, it is awesome and it helped me.
 
“With the PAO role with the pay, the shifts and the job, I was on a great team, the team I was with I am friends with them and will be forever.
 
“After two years (as a PAO) I was like, I should apply for the police, oh maybe I’ll do another year and next minute it was six years,” he said.
 
“I suppose what made me think I need to move on to become a police officer was because I was getting a little bit older and I thought I am only going to be able to do the fitness element for so long.”
 
Drew’s transition is now complete. He has fulfilled his aspiration to serve on the frontline as a police officer and in the process he has handed in his professional golf status and now walks the beat instead of the fairway. 
 
 
 
Did you know Drew was a TV star?
 
In addition to being a playing and teaching professional, Drew also starred on Channel 9’s Golfing WA with former sports reporter Bob Harnett.
 
But he almost wasn’t part of it. 
 
“They did the pilot for the show at Joondalup. A couple of sporting personalities did this pilot with Bob Harnett. They came to me in the afternoon after they had done the pilot and they were talking to me about it and I said:
 
‘You’ve got these celebrity football players and Bob but no one is a golfer but you are talking about golf so it didn’t really make sense."
 
“The next week they said can you come out and we want to do another pilot but with you as a golf pro giving golfing advice and instruction and it just kind of connected from there. 
 
“We pretty much went to golf courses around WA and we played three holes. I suppose what you would call their signature holes and we travelled to Malaysia and Indonesia as well.”
 
Drew starred in the TV show for one season before he moved to Singapore to pursue his playing and teaching career.
 
 
 
 By Steven Glover