Meet the PGA pro: Simon Hanson

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire May 13, 2019 12:23

The head PGA professional at Kemnay Golf Club in Aberdeenshire and the TGI’s ‘new partner of the year’ talks about the technology he uses to boost his pro shop and how the club encourages more beginners into the game.

What daily challenges do you face in running a pro shop and teaching?

The daily challenges in the pro shop vary day-to-day. Primarily the challenges are ensuring the members and visitors to Kemnay Golf Club receive the best possible experience when they visit the pro shop – maintaining a well presented and stocked shop with a friendly face to greet them.

In teaching, every golfer is different. For me, identifying the issues in the swing that is specific to the individual golfer is paramount.

There is a constant flow of new golf products – how do you manage your stock to serve the needs of your members and visitors?

As my business is only in its second year, I’m still in the process of building up the business and re-investing back into the it while keeping a very close eye on cash flow.

To ensure I offer the right number of products and services to our customers, I constantly analyse my stock control to make sure I’m not overstocked and keep stock turns as high as possible.

I also have a sales forecast and buying plan which allows me to manage my stock expenditure based on my forecast sales.

How do you manage your day?

I use an online diary which I can access anywhere through an app on my phone. I’m also a big fan of making to-do lists, which I prioritise each morning. During the day there are always things that crop up that become a priority, to manage the business effectively I will make sure I set out time each week for different tasks, whether that be accountancy, marketing, shop analysis and so on.

What are you doing to support junior golf and introduce kids to the sport?

Since starting at Kemnay last year I have been keen to promote junior golf at the club and the local area. Throughout last year I offered free junior lessons on specific dates where current juniors and potential new ones could come and have a lesson.

The club has a large number of juniors in ClubGolf (Scottish Golf’s national junior programme) and I will be taking over the coaching of the older transitional group of juniors to help get them make the move to playing the full course and gain handicaps.

I have also been working with the local Active Schools’ co-ordinator to go into the local schools and offer an introduction to golfer for the school kids.

Are you trying to attract more women to golf?

Yes. While the club has a relatively strong ladies’ membership, it has been actively promoting ‘Get into golf’ schemes to encourage ladies to play the game. For 2019 I will be offering taster sessions to ladies and structured coaching sessions for the lady members, making it more of a social event included coaching at the same time.

Do you have any programmes in place such as academy membership to make it easier to introduce beginners to the game?

We have an excellent practice facility at the golf club with our Beechbank six-hole golf course and practice area, which is perfect for beginners to learn to play the game rather than just hitting balls at a driving range.

The club offers a specific membership for Beechbank, which allows beginners and families to learn to play the game in a relaxed environment until they build confidence to move on to the 18-hole championship course.

A lot of PGA pros are having to be a step ahead of their competitors in their offerings and technology – what additional added value services do you provide?

Technology is becoming a vital part of the services you offer to your customers. Whether that be for coaching and custom fitting, or for marketing and advertising in store.

For coaching and practice I have an indoor golf studio with launch monitor. This can be used for a coaching and custom fitting. We also have golf simulator software so golfers can rent the facility and play a round of golf at over 100,000 different courses.

I also invested in technology for putter fittings and lessons. Again, this enhances the services and experience for our customers.

Simon (left), receiving the award from Chris Todd, TGI Golf Group Services Coordinator

When did you join the TGI Golf Partnership and what was it about it that attracted you?

When I set up the business in February 2018 I signed up straight away to become a TGI partner.

Having working previously at the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre, which is an associate partner of TGI, I was able to experience first hand the services and support the group offers. Being able to tap into the resources that TGI offer as well as having a retail consultant to help and offer advice when needed.

Has TGI Golf been of benefit to you as a PGA professional?

TGI has been a huge benefit in helping me settle into the role of club professional at Kemnay. Through their support and advice, the services they offer. It allowed me to hit the ground running.

What year did you turn professional and what have been your career highlights, both playing and employment?

I turned professional back in 2003 and was a relative latecomer as I was 25 at the time. I had already completed a university degree in business while previously working in the finance industry. However, I decided to get out of the ‘Rat Race’ and took the opportunity to work as a trainee PGA professional at Elgin Golf Club.

My playing career highlights are not too exciting, as an amateur I played competitively at local level, winning both the junior and adult club championship at my home club, and playing for the North East of Scotland team on several occasions.

When turning professional I didn’t see a career in playing, instead I focused on developing a career in a sport that I have a passion for. During my PGA training I was successful in becoming Trainee of the Year for Scotland in both my first and second years of training, narrowly missing out on winning it for all three years.

I was recently named at TGI Golf’s New Partner of the Year at the annual awards held at Trump Turnberry, which was an amazing experience.

 

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire May 13, 2019 12:23
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