‘Retail like Harrods, but with Aldi prices, coach like Leadbetter, play like Tiger’

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick November 19, 2021 13:39

Adrian Ambler, the PGA professional at Low Laithes Golf Club in Hull, talks about his role, including using the opportunity of lockdown to give the pro shop a makeover and how he increased the club’s junior section.

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

The novelty of actually not working six days a week probably lasted all of two weeks. I was itching to get back to it, but was obviously unable to.

Some people are really good at not doing much, but I need to keep busy, and I don’t mind admitting that it gradually took its toll on my mental health. I am fortunate enough to have an extremely supportive wife and family around me (and I include the TGI Golf family in that) that helped to get me through it.

Low Laithes were brilliantly supportive, both financially and in just being there whenever I needed someone to talk to.

When we finally got towards the end of lockdown and reopening for business was on the horizon, I took the opportunity to give the pro shop a total makeover, which has proved a massive success.

My TGI Golf retail consultant, Chris Taylor, is a master at merchandising and I would definitely recommend his services to any partner not taking advantage of this free service – after all, as Chris always says: “Retail is detail.”

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

Wow, where do you start? It’s a bit of a plate spinning exercise.

Expectations and demands are high from both members and visitors.

You have to retail like Harrods, but with Aldi prices; coach like Leadbetter, play like Tiger seems the industry norm.

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

Keeping an eye on trends is important and area sales managers help me to keep informed on current products. I try to limit stock levels wherever possible and prefer a higher stock turn.

How do you manage your day?

Time management is a huge challenge on a daily basis. Planning is essential in prioritising all the demands of a golf professional at a busy club.

Golf has had something of a renaissance since we restarted following Covid and hopefully clubs can retain and continue to recruit going forward.

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

Pre-Covid, we were halfway through a junior recruitment programme. Coming from a base junior membership of about a dozen, the board of directors brought in an initiative of free golf to under 18s. Allied to a passionate junior organiser, we increased membership numbers to around 50.

Now golf is returning back to somewhere near normal weekly group coaching will restart and we can develop the new starters to a level where they can progress onto playing regularly and achieving their first handicaps.

Are you trying to attract more women to golf?

Membership numbers in the ladies’ section have been on a decline for a number of years due to wide ranging factors.

We have recently engaged with England Golf to draw up a golf club charter where we have looked into detail at what we as a club have to offer against what lady golfers are looking for in 2021 and beyond.

A plan is being drawn up and we are optimistic that we can halt the decline and once again begin to build the section back to a healthy level.

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

Not yet, but I have a new assistant PGA professional joining me soon and we will be working together to put some plans in place for 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?

For quite a while I’ve been looking at adding an indoor swing studio to our offering. We have been in discussions to build it adjacent to the pro shop and we might be getting close now to having an agreement in place.

It used to be a luxury if a club had an indoor swing studio, but it has rapidly become the norm and if you don’t have one it’s almost a surprise to people.

So, fingers crossed, we’ll have something up and running in the near future.

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

I joined the group when I started my current job as a club professional in 2015. I had a number of important decisions to make regarding the operation of a hopefully successful retail outlet.

There were options out there but having spoken to many of my peers in the industry, and meeting with the TGI retail consultant at the time, the decision was clear cut.

With just a modest initial investment, the returns have been many fold – and I don’t just mean financially, the knowledge I’ve gained and friends I’ve made through various TGI events has been invaluable.

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

Where do I start?

The benefits of being a TGI partner are numerous and wide ranging. I know it is cliché, but TGI has a real family feel about it. We are all in it together – the partners, board of directors and staff alike – we are all pulling in the same direction and everyone wants the same thing, nothing is too much for anyone.

As partners the list of benefits is endless – best buying terms, bonus shares, cash distribution, awesome events all over the world, free retail consultancy, marketing assistance, insurance deals, financial help, TGI Golf Travel, it just goes on and on.

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

I turned pro in 1989 with some reasonable success at county, regional and national level.

I have been lucky enough to win county and regional PGA orders of merit, my proudest moment came in 2014 when as a proud Yorkshireman I captained the county team to victory in the England and Wales inter county championships at The Belfry.

 

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick November 19, 2021 13:39
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