What are the benefits of having a PGA professional?

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu May 6, 2018 12:53

The PGA professional is often one of the most prominent figures at a golf club, yet there are some who question the importance of the position.

Over the history of a golf club there are many changes. Club captains come and go, committees change on a regular basis and secretaries / general managers can turnover fairly frequently.

However, the one constant is often the PGA professional. But what do they bring to your golf club? It may seem on the outside that they sit in the shop all day and give a few lessons here and there, but the reality is that a good quality PGA pro will bring far more to the club than many realise. In fact, the pro can be the lifeblood of the club.

Eddie Reid, managing director of the TGI Golf Partnership, a leading golf retail services group, owned by PGA professionals, said: “There are many stories from the dark days of the recession of golf clubs looking at the balance sheet, seeing the pro as cost rather than a benefit, assessing the pro’s retainer, and believing the club can do without one.

“But on average a PGA pro’s retainer will be around three per cent of the club’s spend, so cutting a pro’s position may save a fraction, but it was costing clubs a lot more to replace the revenue the pro was bringing in and most importantly, increasing the club’s staffing costs.

“It’s the duty of all golf club committees / boards to ensure the financial stability of that club and decisions should be made on financial and commercial facts. We have heard of club captains coming in and looking to do away with the pro purely on anecdotal information, perception versus reality, which doesn’t do anyone any favours.”

So, what does a good quality PGA professional bring to a golf club?

Essential knowledge of the game

The PGA professional is usually the only true golf expert at the club. Of course, there’ll no doubt be some members who feel they know more, but the pro is the only one who has studied all aspects of the game over three years as they studied for their PGA qualification.

To earn those three letters, PGA pros go through a rigorous training course honed over decades to ensure an abundant arsenal of golf knowledge from things like swing mechanics, business management, customer service and much, much more.

The PGA professional can, and should, sit on most committees within the golf club. The greens’ committee – the pro has an intimate knowledge of what makes golfers tick and how courses should be set up for the enjoyment of the golfer; the marketing committee – how do you bring more people into a golf club? Why not ask the golf expert? Handicap committee, full committee, any meeting where important decisions are being made, should involve the PGA professional.

Relationships

The PGA professional is the first, and sometimes only, face many members and visitors will see when visiting the club.

The first port of call for many is the pro shop as they look to stock up on food and drink for the round, some new golf balls or to enter the monthly medal.

It is here they get to know the PGA professional, who will often have been there much earlier to ensure the shop is open so they can greet these customers.

Reid added: “A club secretary once said to me ‘club members love the golf pro, he always gives them the good news – competition wins, swing tips and so on – and it is the general manager who gives them the bad news – usually time to pay your subs’.”

It is that same face that members will see after their round as they return they score cards, particularly on competition days, and it is the pro who will listen to the stories of glory and woe and impart advice on how to stop the rot or continue the good work.

Which brings us neatly to…

Teacher

The PGA professional is the only one within the club with the ability to make members better golfers … and what do better golfers make? Happier members / customers.

We are all golfers, we all know the ups and downs and we know the difference it makes to your general golfing happiness if you are playing well.

If there was no PGA pro on site, who would encourage your members to enhance their game, work on making themselves better golfers and bring more enjoyment to the club?

Not only that, but a good coach will be bringing in golfers who are not necessarily members of the club. If they build an attachment and a relationship together, then you could have more members joining on the basis of that relationship with the pro.

Industry expert

As part of the coaching package the forward thinking, modern day PGA professional will have the latest technology available to assist with their teaching – launch monitors, ball flight simulators – all of this adds to the experience for the golfer and gives them tangible results on the back of lessons.

This kind of technology used to be a viewed as a luxury but is now an essential piece of kit. Every pro should now have a launch monitor as standard, whether it’s portable and used at the range, or housed in a custom-build swing studio.

An indoor swing studio is something that will benefit the whole club as it opens up a whole other host of benefits and services to club members and the pro … lessons in the warm and dry being the most appealing.

It doesn’t need to involve high building costs either, a number of PGA professionals have taken on the task of constructing studios themselves, using their assistants and contacts to help. Many clubs have joined with the pro to provide the facility and the PGA pro provides the technology, which is a great way to ease the financial pain on both sides.

In this modern age the right technology is now essential in getting your members into the right golf clubs. All the major manufacturers now develop equipment that must be fitted to the individual swing of the golfer, only one person has the skills and knowledge to do that … you guessed it, the PGA professional!

Administrator

It’s club championship day, or any competition for that matter, someone requires a ruling, there’s a discrepancy on a scorecard that the computer system can’t sort, someone doesn’t know how to use the machine to enter their score – if only there was someone within the club who had extensive knowledge of the rules of golf.

Again, the PGA professional is on hand for these situations, and having built a solid relationship with the members over the years, and with those three letters to their name, it is the pro who can help with the golf related admin around the club.

So, there are just a few very important benefits to having a PGA professional at your club. Contrary to what some members may believe, they don’t just sit behind their counter in the pro shop and give a few lessons here and there, there are many strings to the bow of a quality PGA professional.

The important thing for clubs to do is to ensure they involve the pro with the running of the club, keep an open dialogue with your pro, even if you appoint a designated member of the board / committee who has regular meetings with them to discuss what’s happening at the club, has the pro heard anything or had any discussions with members that could enhance the experience for everyone? Can the pro assist in any of the day-to-day matters that affect the golf club? The answer is almost certain to be yes.

The role of the PGA professional has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, it is important that the club sees that. Take a look at the contract you have with the pro, does it reflect the job they are doing? It is vital that the pro provides current and relevant services in order to enhance the smooth running of the club, regular reviews will ensure a close and prosperous working relationship.

If you’re unsure, ask your pro to write down everything he / she does, there’s every chance you’ll be surprised at how much they do.

 

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu May 6, 2018 12:53
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