Meet the PGA professional: Ian Mowbray

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick August 29, 2021 13:35

The PGA club professional at Liphook Golf Club talks about the extreme changes to his role in the last 18 months and how he helps the club introduce the game to more people.

Can you detail what your life was like from the first lockdown in March 2020 until the present day?

It’s been very strange! The club has been incredibly supportive to me and my assistants, which has obviously helped a lot but the club also brought forward some course changes which meant that when golf did resume after the first lockdown we were only 10 holes until August and the tee sheet like most clubs was full!

All three lockdowns flew by as I was trying to juggle several balls including helping with home schooling, keeping the shop ticking over and offering swing tips and swing analysis to members.

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

It’s a real challenge and I’ve still not found the perfect balance. The shop is fairly constant all year whereas teaching seems to come in spurts. I’m fortunate to have a studio in the shop, which is great for business. Keeping the shop fresh and interesting is always a nice challenge.

The biggest challenge at the moment is that the phone never stops ringing!

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

Again, this is a major challenge. I believe that presentation is really important.

About a third of my business comes from visitors which has been a challenge during the pandemic and next year sees our club centenary which is a challenge to stock the correct range of products.

Checking trade publications and product information we receive regularly from TGI Golf and trying to work closely with supplier ASMs is crucial to try and be aware of what is changing and needs to be phased out.

How do you manage your day?

It depends on what is happening at the club, however I like to arrive at the club around 7-7.15am to avoid the traffic. I try to get an even balance each day of admin, shop work and teaching / club fitting and then aim to leave around 5pm, but nearly always end up doing more admin in the evenings.

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

We run regular junior coaching sessions which my assistants mostly carry out and we have also started coaching at a local school.

Are you trying to attract more women to golf?

Yes. As a club we are trying to attract more female members and I have run a women’s Get Into Golf series most years and we have gained quite a few members over the years.

I have a class running at the moment, which was oversubscribed and hopefully most of the ladies will keep it going.

Ian Mowbray with Catriona Matthew at the TGI Golf Business Conference at Trump Turnberry in 2020

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

Yes we do and it has produced quite a few members over the years who have become some of my best customers, however we now even have a waiting list for this section.

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?

Our studio is fully kitted out with TrackMan, K-Vest and Boditrak and we use Gasplab which provides customers with video analysis and Ebooks of their lessons and so on.

The marketing services we receive from TGI Golf, such as an email marketing system and MyMarketing HUB, which allows us to generate personalised digital and print marketing material, has been a great help, along with Xmail from Crossover, have all been great for me.

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

I joined in 2004 having started at Liphook in 2003. My former boss Paul Anderson at The Berkshire was a TGI Golf Partner and it was a no brainer for me as the help and service was invaluable.

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

Without doubt. Over the years I have received amazing advice from my retail consultants who are always at the end of the phone and happy to come into the shop to assist. I have attended various fun and educational events staged by the group over the years while being a partner of a business has obvious financial benefits as we share in the profits of the group each year.

It’s a great team effort from everyone to help us as partners succeed, nothing is ever too much trouble for the staff who are always happy to support us.

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

This is my 29th year in the industry and I turned pro around 2003 while working for fellow TGI Partner Shaun Cowell at South Moor Golf Club who gave me my chance in the industry and he remains a good friend.

I’ve been fortunate to have worked at some great clubs and for some great bosses including Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, Tralee and The Berkshire and had a short spell in Florida also, all of which gave me a great education and experience with a chance to meet a wide variety of interesting people.

I’ve never been much of player, but playing in TGI Golf’s Partnership Trophy – which is a Ryder Cup style event between Ireland, England & Wales and Scotland – at St Andrews in 2018 with Gordon Cattrell (Middlesbrough GC) as my partner, having worked with him at South Moor was an amazing experience.

I recently qualified to represent England & Wales at the 2021 Partnership Trophy at The K Club, so I’m really looking forward to that in September.

Becoming club pro at Liphook was a great honour, as was receiving nominations for TGI Golf Partner of the Year in 2020 and Pro Shop of the Year in 2015.

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick August 29, 2021 13:35
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