Meet the PGA pro: Nick Williams

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 3, 2020 14:41 Updated

The head professional at St Enodoc Golf Club in Cornwall since 1981 talks about ways to get more juniors to play golf and the techniques and technology he utilises to ensure his pro shop is as profitable as can be.

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

The main problem is trying to come up with a happy medium between teaching and retailing. Over the years I have found that trying to do the two, side-by-side, successfully, is very difficult because for the hours you might put into teaching, it means that you are not in your shop when the customer wants to see and speak with you about equipment and so on.

I personally have found by restricting my coaching and concentrating on the retailing side of the business, it has become  more of a success as members and customers soon get disinterested in buying if you are not there in person to greet them. That famous saying ‘Oh I will pop back later’ is not good for business … as they generally won’t!

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

About nine years ago I got involved with Crossover who set me up with their retail programme which was the best thing I ever did. It means that I can always monitor where my stock levels are and find it much easier to keep up with the latest trends stock wise. I would recommend any new young professional setting up their business to buy into this system to keep their stock under constant control.

How do you manage your day?

With great difficulty! While you are at work, you are always at the beck and call of your membership and so many different scenarios can take place from day-to-day such as electric trolleys are not working, bored members who just want to come in for a chat or would like a lesson – immediately!, emails need attention, phone calls need answering! Every day is different; I try and keep mornings for teaching and fittings and afternoons for all other business. Oh and then of course, we are meant to play perfect golf as well!

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

We have a great junior section here and my head assistant, Mark Arrowsmith, deals with this. We have an academy with roughly 60 youngsters. The main problem we have found in this is not the encouragement of juniors, but in fact it is encouraging the parents to play. What I call the ‘breeding membership’ in the 20 to 40 year age group in particular. This is the sector in golf in my opinion where golf clubs should be focusing by trying to make it easier financially and time wise to encourage them into clubs. My reason being, behind 95 per cent of all good juniors, you will find parents who play as well so the whole family can partipate in the sport. Hence it is not just turn up at the club and drop children off, it’s a day out for the whole family!

Are you trying to attract more women to golf?

Here at St Enodoc we already have one of the largest ladies’ sections in England so we are not short of lady golfers. In fact we are attracting enquiries all the time which in the long term must be good.

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

We have what the club calls a ‘Fairway Membership’, which is exactly what I was talking about earlier. This is aimed at the 20-to-40 year age group which, after having discussions with the powers to be in the club, they have put into place. This is where the club allows new young people to join on a sensibly-priced membership, and of course we in the pro shop help and encourage all of these new members into golf through tuition and equipment.

The 16th hole at St Enodoc. © Stuart Morley

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?

Obviously, as with the way technology is now, if you are not using it you are way behind the marketplace so we have our own fitting and teaching studio here now at the golf club. We use multi cameras for teaching and the Foresight GC2 club fitting and coaching system, which has certainly boosted club sales and has been a massive boost to our coaching programme. Shop-wise, we monitor the internet everyday for prices on equipment and use this as a fantastic sales tool.  Members can come in, try and buy at the absolute best prices.

The 6th hole at St Enodoc. © Stuart Morley

When did you join the TGI Golf Partnership and what was it about it that attracted you? Has TGI Golf been of benefit to you as a PGA professional?

I joined TGI in September 2012 after being with Foremost Golf for several years before that. My reason for going forward with TGI was the idea of it being a market leader within the suppliers’ world and also very much a family feel and close-knit community.

Plus it’s especially good for getting the best deals and service out of the suppliers. I can now compete with all the major golf retailers internet wise and give my customers the best service possible.

TGI themselves look after all their professionals with great care and attention and make you feel as though you are an asset to them and not just a number.

The 16th green at St Enodoc. © Stuart Morley

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

I turned professional in 1974 at the age of 17 at Looe Golf Club in Cornwall, having been born in Saltash (a hundred yard Cornishman). I stayed as an assistant for seven years, learning my trade at Exeter Golf and Country Club in Devon and at Tavistock and then back to St Mellion Golf and Country in 1977, where I coached and played under the guidance of John Yeo. During this time I tried to qualify for the European Tour (unsuccessfully) and then, when the qualifying school moved to Europe, I simply couldn’t afford to go so I  concentrated on coaching and playing the regional tours. In 1980 I successfully passed my PGA exams and by the March of 1981 became the head professional here at St Enodoc where I have been for the last 38 years!

During this time huge changes have happened at the club as you can imagine and I’m glad to say that hopefully I’ve had some influence over helping the club to become one of the best rated and well known golf clubs in the UK – and even in the course rankings around the world!

One of the great highlights while I’ve been a professional was to have spent the day with Tom Watson here at the club playing a round of golf with him and dining with him afterwards. As you can imagine, it was a wonderful experience to have played  with one of the all time greats; something not many golfers get to do.

Otherwise, the job which I really still enjoy, has allowed me too meet all kinds of other famous people from film stars to prime ministers, things that perhaps might not have happened if it hadn’t been for this simple but wonderful game of golf!



Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 3, 2020 14:41 Updated
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