Meet the PGA professional: David Delaney

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 7, 2022 12:19

David, who is also the general manager of Halifax Bradley Hall Golf Club in Yorkshire, talks about balancing out the dual roles, the surge in members in the last two years, maximising sales in the pro shop and using driving range games to appeal more to juniors.

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

Throughout the initial lockdown there were real concerns that I wouldn’t have a business at all when we came out of it. It was an extremely worrying time, worrying about staff, their families, my family, my house, there were so many factors to consider.

Then, literally as soon as we came out of lockdown things went manic and there’s been no let up, we are non-stop in the pro shop whether it’s people wanting to book a tee time, buy products or to just have a chat – we went from one extreme to the other in a very short space of time.

We took on 167 new members when we reopened, which was amazing. We are probably oversubscribed at the moment, but we wanted to help out the local community and give them a reason to get outside again.

David Delaney

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

Time management is the biggest challenge we face as PGA professionals, particularly as I have the general manager’s role at the club too.

I tend to teach in the morning then use the afternoon for business planning or taking care of the day-to-day general manager tasks – I leave Tim, my head assistant, to manage the shop and take on the teaching and custom fitting in the afternoons.

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

We tend to stick to a maximum of four brands in the shop, but I prefer to keep it to just three.

What I’ve learnt to do over the last 12 months is to adapt, so we have started selling a lot more shoes now. We have a huge shoe wall and have started to gain a reputation in the area as the place to come for shoes. We still do hardware, but mostly custom fitted so we don’t need rows and rows of clubs in the shop.

That space is given over to the shoes and we display them in size runs, so if you’re a size 10 you know where to go and what we have in stock.

David Delaney with Catriona Matthew

How do you manage your day?

We use Microsoft Office 365 which allows me to keep up to date with everything I have planned for the day. I can then cut and paste things around if anything changes and makes it easy to keep up with what’s going on.

As a team we share all the information so we all know what’s going on with each member of staff. It means we can help each other out with time management too, for example, if I have something scheduled to do by the end of the day and someone can help out if they have time to take it on then it helps.

You’re only as good as your staff so I encourage them to learn every part of the business, so they can take on any tasks that are required.

I’m a big believer in encouraging staff to take an interest in every part of the business. If you show your staff everything and encourage them to take on responsibilities, then it helps. You’ll find it helps with your time management as they can take on tasks and you may even find they are better at doing some things than you are, which can only help the business.

Having that kind of approach also attracts good staff. I’m happy to help them in every aspect of being a PGA professional and help them forge a career. If they then leave to go on to bigger and better things, then I’m happy for them.

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

When I joined the club in 2012 part of my remit was to build a driving range which we now have up and running. We have a number of driving range games that we encourage our juniors to take part in as well as hosting junior coaching sessions every Wednesday and Saturday.

We also host coaching camps throughout the school holidays.

Are you trying to attract more women to golf?

We have a ladies’ ‘Get into Golf’ programme that runs every Tuesday evening in the summer. We have ladies coming along who are brand new to golf as well as those who are returning after a break. Looking at the stats from England Golf it’s certainly an area of the game that’s growing so we are doing everything we can to support it.

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

We have a ‘Pathway to Golf’ membership category for those coming through the Get into Golf programme where for £50 a year they can play 36 holes over the course of that 12 months. We keep a tally of how many holes they’ve played in the pro shop, they simply come in and tick off how many holes they’ve played.

We find this works well as they’re getting started in the sport as they pop up and play a couple of holes each time.

Then, in their second year they pay £100 and can play 108 holes over the course of the year until they are comfortable enough to move into full membership.

We also have a nine-hole membership for the over-70s as we have a few nine-hole courses in the local area and we found that once people got a little older and didn’t want to play a full round each time, they were moving on to other venues. So, we introduced the new membership category to help retain members and make it more attractive to them.

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?

We have invested in a FlightScope which we use for lessons, custom fitting and gapping sessions on the driving range.

We have also put in a suggestion to build a simulator / swing room in the clubhouse to host indoor events throughout the year when the weather’s not so good and perhaps the course is closed.

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

I joined in 1999 after a visit from current managing director Eddie Reid – at that time he was one of only two members of staff and working as a retail consultant.

Having listened to everything he said it made perfect sense to become a partner. With the very best buying terms from the brands and the prospect of receiving money back each year as an equal shareholder of the group.

Since then, I haven’t looked back, the group has grown massively, there’s far more staff – all of whom are excellent at what they do and great to deal with. I love everything about TGI Golf, I love the structure of the business, the fact that each and every partner is treated as an independent retailer rather than a one-fits-all approach. They make you feel like you’re the only person they are dealing with.

I love the events, the business conference is a must attend for me each year, I love listening to all the successful people giving the seminars and sharing experiences with fellow pros. It was at one of these early events back in the days of Harrogate that I listened to Phil Hesketh and realised that to be successful you need to plan and have structure to build a successful business.

David Delaney with Paul Mcginley

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

Absolutely, forget about the best buying terms and the shares we receive as shareholders, your business is far more successful and there is far less stress with TGI Golf involved. They take on a lot of the strain with dealing with the brands and whenever you need help on any aspect of your business, they are there to help.

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

I turned pro in 1992 having had a successful amateur career – I played for and captained Yorkshire boys and youth teams and enjoyed few wins as a pro, the Moortown Pro Am for one.

One of the proudest moments of my career was being asked to become general manager at Halifax Bradley Hall. I was head PGA professional here for six years before being approached in late 2018 to become general manager and it was a huge honour, it made me realise how highly I was thought of by the members and since then we have taken the club from strength to strength.

 

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 7, 2022 12:19
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