Meet the pro: Matthew Paget from Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu June 29, 2017 06:25 Updated

The club’s head professional tells us how his team have helped the club recruit new members – and retain existing ones

Can you tell us how you got to be the head professional at Royal Mid-Surrey?

I was brought up in Chippenham, Wiltshire and was a member at Chippenham Golf Club. After A Levels I was lucky enough to get a job at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal, working for Andrew Reynolds. I completed my PGA training at Deal and in my time there the club hosted the English Amateur, Open final qualifying and the St Andrews Trophy. It was also the club’s centenary while I was there. Being able to watch and help Andrew at work was an incredible learning experience. He is totally immersed in golf club life and is a massive personality around the club. He is a passionate coach, runs a great shop, loves playing and is very involved with the management of the club. Everybody visiting Royal Cinque Ports has ‘The Reynolds Experience’. I saw this at close hand over four years and it’s something I have looked at doing myself over the years.

I moved to Walmer and Kingsdown as head professional when I had just turned 22 years old. I spent eight years learning how to retail and developing in my role as club professional. I brought enthusiasm and the club really responded. In this time I was Kent PGA captain and won the Kent PGA Matchplay Championship.

I then went to Croham Hurst for three years with the last two years being general manager / director of golf. I learnt even more about the needs of a golf club in this role and it really helped in developing my role at Royal Mid-Surrey. Offering huge support to golf days and playing with every potential new member are two of the schemes we incorporated. I have now been at Royal Mid-Surrey for ten and a half years.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

My biggest challenge is time management. A club professional is an all rounder and to be very good in all departments takes a lot of time. At a club like Royal Mid-Surrey it can’t be done by one person and so the biggest challenge and possibly our biggest success has been in this department. We plan the whole year in advance including all club events, societies and golf days. We put specific teaching times for every coach in the diary and make sure we are available for beat the pros, welcoming visitor groups and so on.

It has made a such a difference to our business being ready for all events and opportunities. We used to be very reactive and it’s very difficult to maximise every day if you conduct business like this. We still do everything but in a much more organised and efficient way.

What has been your biggest success regarding lending support to the commercial aspect of the business?

We also set up an academy for beginners which has seen 64 new golfers this year. They are very loyal customers and will hopefully join the club and remain great customers for years to come.

What skill sets do you believe a PGA pro should have?

Enthusiasm, dedication, knowledge, desire to be the best and the ability to do things differently to achieve it, the love of golf that should never diminish and be entrepreneurial.

What are you doing to attract junior golfers? How do you market your services to this sector? Are you working with any schools?

We run a junior academy with a very specific curriculum that is communicated to the child and parent at the start of each term.

We make learning fun and play lots of games and give rewards every session. There is a clear pathway to membership and we try to get out on the course as often as possible. We run weekly sessions for our junior members and run the junior committee at the club.

We are currently working with four school groups a week, which works really well. We again provide a structured syllabus that we work to all through the term. We get them out on the course as often as we can.

We run holiday camps for kids in school holidays as well. We have created lots of junior members from our schemes.

How do you market and stimulate interest in your retail business? What increases do you typically see following your marketing efforts? What determines the product range you carry?

Our most successful marketing tool is email – we use TGI emarketing. An example of how successful it is was when we had snow a few years ago, which was going to close the course at the weekend. We sent an email ‘reasons to drive through the snow’ with some offers and had the best weekend of the year. We work hard on our mailing list and offer a loyalty card to capture non-member data.

We also make ourselves impossible to miss. ‘Beat the Pros’, meet and greet, and voucher gifts ensure a high footfall through the shop.

I regularly meet with companies to see new products and I read golf trade magazines. Also, being addicted to Twitter helps with seeing new products.

Recruiting the right staff is key to the success of any business. What processes do you use to attract and employ the right people for your business?

We work really hard on recruiting the right staff. Most interviews will take place over a whole day or maybe two. We properly put people through their paces and see them in their entirety. Working in the shop, reacting to customers, coaching a school or junior academy session, playing a few holes, individual lessons and interacting with the team over dinner.

I want people who have the desire to be a head professional and are ambitious in that pursuit.

What year did you turn professional? What have been your career highlights? What advice would you give to youngsters wanting to pursue a PGA pro career?

I turned pro in 1992 and qualified in March 1995. I was the youngest club pro at the time of starting at Walmer and Kingsdown, aged just 22. I was the Kent PGA captain and Kent PGA Matchplay champion in 2003 and winner of Pro Shop of the Year 2012 at the Proshop Europe Awards.

I’ve trained many assistants through training and on to head professional and director of golf roles.

My advice to youngsters is to embrace the club professional role. Be an all rounder. It doesn’t stop you being excellent in every discipline but the more income streams you have the better, therefore retail, teach, play, administrate. Do it all and do it well. Surround yourself with good role models. Watch what they do and copy, but also improve.

 

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu June 29, 2017 06:25 Updated
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