Meet the PGA pro: Oliver Hunt

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 18, 2018 10:19

Oliver is the head professional at Headingley Golf Club in Leeds and has just been crowned Partner of the Year at the TGI Golf Awards. He talks about the award and how he has increased profits via the club’s golf shop.

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

The daily challenge is always making sure that customers appreciate the added value that a pro shop offers. Customers in all industries want the cheapest price, and I introduced a price match policy to ensure that customers don’t need to shop around. With access to online shopping, customers know what price items are before entering the pro shop, which will always reduce the margin made, but I feel this is necessary so they don’t just shop online. Providing a service that members appreciate is always of high importance, but I’m not sure they are willing to pay more for the added value of shopping in a pro shop.

I have recently purchased a TrackMan unit to aid and increase my coaching with as many members as possible.  Using the unit for their practice ensures they are spending more time at the club, and I hope to see sales and lessons increase. My main focus this year is coaching, having made the investment to enhance my swing studio further with the TrackMan unit.

How do you manage your day in terms of keeping on top of things in the shop and teaching?

Communication is vitally important to me, so I introduced a large white board when I first started as the head professional six years ago. This ensures that I, as well as my staff, know exactly what needs doing. This is set out into days of the week when certain tasks needs attention.  Stock-takes are carried out weekly and orders placed as well as ensuring customers are invoiced, and jobs I would like my assistant to carry out are known, with information all in one place, so nothing gets overlooked.

What year did you turn professional?

I completed my training in 2008 and took over as the head professional in 2012.

You recently won the highly coveted TGI Partner of the Year award. Congratulations! What has been the focus of attention that enabled you to drive the business and win the award?

My main focus is always striving to be the best I can be. I regularly attend training courses held by TGI, which allow me to implement new ideas and best practices to my business. I never stop trying to push sales, or my coaching, via email marketing and I try to play with the members as much as I can. I see this as a major selling tool even though it’s difficult to be everywhere at once! Lots of people have asked this question, and all I can really say is I feel it’s for enthusiasm and determination! We are in a world where the internet is so strong that I feel that coaching can’t be done online, and people will soon value that personal factor a golf professional can add to their game and subsequent purchases.

What have been your career highlights?

Playing highlights are rare with a busy pro shop and successful members improving their golf, but I’m very keen to improve my personal game, and regularly practice. I hope TrackMan is going to help me improve, as well as my customers. Taking over as the head professional at Headingley was a major achievement for me, and winning the TGI Partner of the Year award was a huge honour.

Young golfers are the future of the game – what are you doing to support junior golf and introduce kids to the sport?

This is a difficult one, our club is near a local driving range which has a lot of young golfers attached to it. The club doesn’t have a range and I feel it is so easy for children to turn up and hit balls at a range facility, and parents can sit and relax while the future of golf learn the skills needed to enjoy the game. Golf is a difficult sport and maybe it needs to be made easier for children with bigger clubs and balls so they can actually play on courses more than they attend coaching sessions.

I’m hoping that the studio will attract more juniors in a virtual world, but really I just want them to go out and enjoy the course with their mates.

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

The TrackMan is now my main focus of providing a high quality service, both in custom fitting and coaching.  Visitors are always provided a high quality welcoming service, and I have introduced a customer called Visitor on the EPoS computer package, so I can now monitor how much is sold to visitors and ensure that I’m stocking products that they buy rather than goods that just my members purchase. Again an idea that came from a meeting with fellow TGI partners.

Services to members include competition results sent out via email and Twitter, organising demo days so members can try the latest products, a state of the art studio and I’m sure all the extra add-on services all head professionals are doing in our busy environment.

A lot of golf clubs are now offering academy membership to introduce people who are new to the game – is this something Headingley Golf Club offer and, if so, is this something you get involved in?

We held the first come and try day for ladies in the area and this was very successful, and I provided follow-on coaching sessions to ensure that the new ladies improved.  We now hold ‘come and try’ days for juniors as well, to increase the junior membership at the club.

I feel it is very important that new players improve as quickly as possible so they don’t lose interest and get frustrated with the game.

There is constantly a new offering of golf products and apparel – how do you manage what you stock and when you stock it to meet the needs of members and visitors to the club?

I send out questionnaires to ask members which products they would like to see stocked. This can mean that you get such a wide and varied response that it’s not possible to stock everything. I do ensure that all members understand I can get most brands, and just to ask before they purchase elsewhere. Every meeting I have with suppliers is always held with information about what I have sold the previous season. This has resulted in dropping a supplier due to the rep not allowing me to purchase what I wanted, but I don’t want to have a shop full of products that are not sold.

I feel the suppliers I deal with understand the challenge golf club professionals face, and are happy to not force products in store that don’t sell.

I’m looking forward to see how the information from the customer Visitor set up on the EPoS reflects products I feel are bought for the members of the club, as other TGI partners have said that it was mainly visitors that purchased products they felt they were stocking for there members.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 18, 2018 10:19
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