Meet the PGA pro: Michael Brooks

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 18, 2020 15:44

The head professional at Pumpherston Golf Club in Scotland talks about proven ways to make the pro shop more profitable, how the club is introducing the game to more children while marketing more to women, and the technology he’s taken on to aid him teach the game to golfers.

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

Running a smooth diary is key and I manage that and my one staff’s rota pretty easily – communication and early annual leave requests make this possible.

I release coaching blocks of time, usually four to six weeks, to my customer base for my coaching and these get snapped up quickly so my coaching diary is pretty near full. I’m looking right now at a couple of online booking solutions that will allow my clients to book and pay (and reschedule) without the fuss of phone calls.

Maintaining a high standard of merchandising, current digital ads on screen in store and always ensuring I keep an eye out for online flash sales and pricing which could impact my business, and being able to manage this positively, is key.

As a TGI Golf partner I have great support in every area of my business, being able to get instant access to reliable and informed advice from my dedicated retail consultant makes managing these impact factors much easier.

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

I recently surveyed our members, which was extremely helpful as I was given a clear indication on customer spending habits allowing me to supply the right product at the price.

I came to Pumpherston with little stock so this was much needed info. Having moved into my position in late March 2019, I purchased the latest XPOS from Crossover, which allows me to make reports in many areas such as stock turns, unpopular products, stock holding and margin. Having reports ready for pre books are crucial to allow me to make accurate purchases from suppliers regarding sizing, colour and styles.

How do you manage your day?

It changes so quickly, almost every day, last minute lessons or cancellations, on the spot repairs, meetings with club / sponsors and so on. My staff and I have our rotas set two months in advance so we are consistent with days off. As long as we have our rotas agreed in advance and annual leave taken at quiet periods in the club’s calendar we can manage each day accordingly.

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

When I joined Pumpherston we contacted a local school and delivered golf sessions at the school for a few hours once a week for three weeks (due to timing of my start dates and time taken to co-ordinate). We had 220 children attend these sessions and the feedback was fantastic, we’re looking to go back to the school, and others, next term and we have set up golf camps for any junior golfer, five hours of fun team games, coaching and learning, lunch followed by a couple of holes. This has been popular and we have seen a spike in new junior members as a direct result of this new initiative.

Are you trying to attract more women to golf?

We’ve just launched our first dates for at Pumpherston GC. I’m really looking forward to developing this area for the club and giving ladies a chance to experiment with golf in a relaxed and fun environment.

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

The club have seen a benefit from my staff and me going into schools and offering coaching camps, so we have now introduced an incentive for juniors to have three years’ membership for the price of one. These children will automatically become Academy golfers and receive a baseball cap, free tuition from myself for most Saturdays through the year with the opportunity to play some holes afterwards.

This provides children the chance to receive first class free fun coaching – the parents know that we are a great facility with forward-thinking staff and initiatives that we hope will aid retention through their junior years and ultimately grow junior participation at Pumpherston and within the local community.

Michael, with his dad, Andrew. Andrew played for Great Britain & Ireland in the 1969 Walker Cup and Michael for Great Britain & Ireland in the 1997 Walker Cup – one of only three father and sons to have achieved this.

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?

E-newsletter templates from TGI Golf really work and have high open rates, so engagement is great. I’ve just purchased Trackman and that is very quickly becoming the go-to lesson type I offer.

My customers can log into Trackman and receive all the data on their phone as we go through the session, the editing tools at the end of session report is fantastic and another useful area is any video taken by a Trackman camera is automatically trimmed and has graphics such as path and face to path: very easy for any golfer to understand.

I can make these sessions as technical or simple as the golfer needs and I’ve found the golfer can improve quickly as the detail is greater and more precise. Also, repeat custom with Trackman is increasing and I released Trackman bundles with short game and playing lessons included.

I’ve haven’t had Trackman for too long, but it’s going to be a huge asset for my customers and business.

Also, I have TV screens with rolling ads in the store with details of the products, coaching and services we offer at Pumpherston – investing in XPOS is a must for any PGA professional.

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

My dad, Andrew, was one of the founding fathers of TGI Golf all those years ago and having seen from a young age the rapid development of the company and its ever-growing portfolio of excellent services and support for its partners, there really was no retail services group that would come close as an alternative. I’ve been a proud TGI partner since 2008.

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

Without question. We have retail consultants who offer excellent support to my business, wonderful staff at head office in Livingston, a great variety of golf events and, of course, the Team Challenge in Turkey, through the year and the opportunity to learn and network at our annual business conference.

This all allows me to add value to my services and keep developing my business with the knowledge I will have support from a great team. For me, TGI tick every box as a retail service group, it genuinely does feel like family

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

I turned pro in 1997 after a great amateur career where I won the Scottish Amateur matchplay in 1996 at Dunbar and represented GB&I in the Eisenhower Trophy in Manila, which was very special as it was a four man team and we finished fifth.

The first event I played in following my Scottish Amateur win was the St Andrews Trophy at Woodhall Spa, which is a matchplay event against Europe. We won this match and I had an unbeaten record that included a victory against a young Sergio Garcia. I finished with 10 wins and one half at the highest level, something I’m hugely proud of.

In 1997 I was part of the Walker Cup team that travelled to Quaker Ridge. We had a fantastic team including Barclay Howard, Graham Rankin, Justin Rose, Craig Watson, Steven Young, Gary Wolstenholme, Keith Nolan, Richie Coughlan and David Park.

We had huge expectations, however we were beaten quite easily. The course was set up very severely with the rough just three feet from the putting surface around 12 to 15 inches in length with very undulating greens running at 13!

We bumped into Gary Hoch and Jonnie Miller who were working on commentary at Winged Foot for the PGA Championship that Davis Love III won the following week and they came to Quaker for a look – Jonnie told us that there’s no way the pros would play an event with rough that severe!

As an experience it was something to remember and I’ll never forget the phone call at 10pm on a Sunday evening from George McGregor telling I had made the team. It’s especially memorable as it was very hard work over a two-year period getting to the top 10 of a great group of golfers from GB&I and that representing GB&I at the Walker Cup as one of only three father and sons to do so is an extra special feeling. My dad Andrew played at Milwaukee in 1969 and was the first player to return from the US unbeaten.

Working at Royal St George’s as an assistant to my dad Andrew was an incredible 10 years and I managed to work a couple of Opens and also played as a marker three times!


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 18, 2020 15:44
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  1. Bobby February 16, 16:25

    A great addition to Pumpherston Golf Club he is very forward thinking and constantly thinking what he can do for members and to bring new members in. He proposed the building of a new new indoor swing studio for the Golf Club as a way of generating income 12 months of the year, the club committee passed the proposal that Michael put forward and we are all waiting for it to be completed

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  2. Jon February 13, 14:15

    I remember Michael when he was at Royal St Georges!

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