Meet the PGA pro: Eddie Reid

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu April 12, 2018 08:10 Updated

The managing director of the TGI Golf Partnership – which helps PGA professionals achieve more with their shops – talks about his career and offers his views on the ever-changing golf industry

Like many teenagers, Eddie Reid had dreams of a career in football, but unlike many teenagers his goal scoring prowess gave him a realistic opportunity.

A promising schoolboy footballer, Reid had spells at Everton, St Mirren and Airdrie before his dreams were cruelly shattered by a serious knee injury at just 17, which, without being too disrespectful to his age, in those days put his career in jeopardy.

With his dreams of a life under the floodlights fading he followed his parents’ advice and knuckled down to gain qualifications to fall back on.

It took almost two years for him to get over the cruciate ligament injury, and although he continued to play football, he never broke through into the professional ranks, instead lacing up his boots at junior level in Scotland, the equivalent of non-league south of the border.

However, during those two years on the sidelines, Reid put his focus on gaining plenty of new skills, taking a City & Guilds in management administration, which enabled him to take a different career path – little did he know then, but football’s loss would become golf retailing’s gain.

The 58-year-old’s career path started with Post Office counters where he fulfilled a number of roles, mainly staff training and working with self-employed post masters and within the Post Office’s banking system, where he worked with big name companies such as M&S, Littlewoods and Argos.

“It was through the Post Office’s banking system that I had a fortuitous meeting with a guy from the Jet oil company and we struck up a friendship,” explained Reid. “He asked if I would be able to assist them a little and that was it, before I knew it I had my own business running filling stations.”

At its peak Reid was employing more than 50 people running filling stations that were open every day of the year and turning over between £4 million and £5 million and winning awards such as Retail Trader of the Year given by Forecourt Trader magazine.

While running the company Reid was heavily involved in developing and training staff members, which led to a separate business consultancy role, which set another ball rolling as he built up a portfolio of small retailers in a number of sectors including convenience stores, clothing stores and his first encounter with the on course golf retailer.

Hooked into golf

“I’ve always had a love of golf, I was a keen hobby golfer and my best friend, Tom Eckford, is a PGA professional (Ranfurly Castle GC),” explained Reid. “I spent a lot of time at Normandy Driving Range (Renfrew) and I caddied for Tom on the Tartan Tour, so started coming into contact with a lot of PGA professionals.”

During many conversations with Tom, John Mulgrew – who ran Normandy Driving Range – and the PGA professionals he met, Reid picked up on a regular theme … the PGA pro was coming under pressure from mainstream retailers.

It was around that time that Eckford was appointed as the first chairman of a group called Tartan Golf International, a merger between the golf buying groups Tartan Golf and Golf Ecosse.

Reid takes up the story: “Tom introduced me to Paul Collins, who was in charge of Golf Ecosse and the Tartan Golf chairman, Ian Johnston, who had some big ideas on how he wanted to progress the group following the merger. He wanted to bring me on board to give him some advice and drive their members’ businesses forward.

Reid took up a consultancy position working with Tartan Golf International (TGI Golf), the contract was for three months, however, when that contract was up, he was invited to take up a more permanent position and in 2001 he became the very first full time employee of the group.

The foundations of TGI Golf

Within six years of becoming the first employee of TGI Golf, Reid was promoted to managing director following the retirement of Johnston and so began a journey which has seen 10 years of continued growth.

“It was an interesting time when I came on board,” explained Reid. “Ian had a vision to see both the team at TGI Golf and the level of services on offer to the PGA professionals grow. His vision was also to only work with PGA pros who wanted to learn, expand their knowledge and progress their business, so we became a very bespoke business in respect of what the golf pro needed. We also had to get the suppliers on board and make them understand the real value of working with our PGA pros.

“So we had to become more resilient in the view of who we allowed into the group; we wanted to work with PGA pros who were engaged and passionate about excelling at retail.

“This is something we still have in place today, for us it’s about the quality of PGA professionals, not the quantity we have in the group.

 

“What we have done since then is improved the quality and levels of service they receive. We have four retail consultants who are on the road visiting our partners in store on a daily basis. The level of education and service they provide the pro has improved dramatically over the years and a lot of that is down to the fact our pros want to continue learning, they have a real thirst for knowledge.

“It also became quickly apparent when I first took over as MD that the future of business was dependent on the adoption of digital formats, so we invested in electronic marketing systems and brought in people to run it as well as give us a direction on social media and our communication channels not just to our partners but to the outside world too.”

How the industry has changed

“The industry has been a real roller-coaster. When I first came into it the on-course retailer was living in fear of the off-course market. At that time it was Nevada Bob’s, JJB Sports and American Golf Discount, but over the years they have disappeared and the golf pro is still here.

“Then came the internet giants and again the PGA pro was worried, but now we’re seeing them slowly retract as the market swings back to the on-course retailer. It doesn’t matter whose name is above the door there’ll always be competition.

“The industry has almost gone full circle. The successful golf pros are the ones selling a top service and who are competitive on price without underselling themselves. It is important the pro works hard and maintains a strong relationship with the brands who, at this moment in time, are providing the most technically advanced equipment ever. Not only that, the products they are producing can only be properly fitted for the consumer, by the golf expert, the golf doctor, the PGA professional.

“That is the biggest change that I’ve seen, the change in the brand’s go-to-market strategy. They have moved away from big pre-books, focussing instead on helping the pro sell through with a ‘little and often’ approach. They understand the retailers’ needs much better and although there are still elements of pre-book buying, which is not perfect, it is moving more and more towards recognising the changing marketplace.

“This is helping the pro to focus on stock control and rotations, and re-evaluate their own buying styles so they don’t have vast amounts of product at any one time. It is better to have money in the bank than stock they cannot sell.”

How have you changed?

“Over the years I have been fortunate to learn a hell of a lot. I’ve been lucky in that those who have come into the business at TGI Golf have come in while I’ve been MD, so I’ve been able to bring people who are specialists in specific areas and learn from them.”

In 2014 Reid was named among the most powerful figures in European golf by American publication Golf Inc., something the modest Scot is proud of, but nonetheless quick to shift the praise.

“The moniker I received is a reflection on the team at TGI Golf; the levels of professionalism they have brought to TGI Golf has elevated the position of the business and made me look good.

“Any accolades I receive are solely down to them. I’ve said many times they are without doubt the best team I have ever worked with and they are the envy of the golf industry.

“I also believe that this level of service they provide has given those PGA professionals in our group a little bit extra. If a club has a PGA pro who is a TGI Golf Partner it certainly adds to their reputation.”

What does the future hold for the PGA professional?

“There is a bit of fear around at the moment, we’re not seeing 10, 15, 20 per cent growth in participation numbers and some clubs are struggling to maintain membership numbers. However, it’s important to look at the positives – people haven’t stopped playing golf, they’ve just changed the way they play.

“The best way for the PGA pro to make money is to be better retailers, don’t buy into big volumes. They may be tempted to place a big pre-order because they think they might make an extra two per cent, but that doesn’t make sense if you have a full stock room. What will happen is they’ll end up discounting things to clear stock, then that extra two per cent rapidly disappears.

“There are many tools and services available to the PGA professional of today. There is far more support from the brands with PoS and marketing materials readily available.

“The pro can legitimately expect technical support from those around them including the PGA, Foremost, TGI Golf and other groups. These groups all have excellent tool kits and whoever the pro is working with they should be able to provide them with the right tools and the right training at the best value.

“I don’t think the PGA professional really grasps just what a strong position they are in at the moment. The on-course market is outperforming the off-course, and as long as the pro continues to innovate, educate and invest in technology, they will continue to stay in front.”

How would you explain the TGI Golf Partnership?

The TGI Golf Partnership is wholly owned by its partners, who are all PGA professionals and we are very privileged to be looking after it for them.

“They are all equal shareholders, so when a pro joins they pay a small joining fee and purchase 200 shares, once they have paid that they do not pay another thing to be a partner, there are no monthly or annual subscriptions to pay.

“In fact as a partnership we share our success among our partners, so any profits made are paid back to the partners through our cash distribution scheme.

“We offer our partners assistance in every aspect of their business, including the retail consultants, experienced marketers and financial experts.

“Over the years we’ve had great success due to our commercial agility. We are constantly listening to our partners and adapting to what they need, from digital marketing to first class events.

“The important thing to remember is that it is the PGA professional’s business, they all own TGI Golf and we are privileged to be looking after it for them.”

For more information visit tgigolf.com

 

 

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu April 12, 2018 08:10 Updated
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