“The reaction to new products is something I look forward to”

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick April 23, 2022 09:21

Bernard Quigley, the head golf professional at Naas Golf Club in Ireland discusses an influx of products for the pro shop this spring, revamping the junior section at the club and why being part of a golf retail services group has been so beneficial to him.

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

It was an unusual time for me professionally as I had recently taken up the head professional job at Naas Golf Club. The day I was supposed to officially begin my tenure was the day the whole of Ireland went into an eight-week lockdown.

However the support from Naas GC has been incredible from the outset of the pandemic and the well wishes and support I received from members I had yet to meet was really overwhelming. When we reopened in May 2020 it was all hands-on-deck and it has been that way since.

The lockdowns in 2020 were primarily spent upskilling my coaching, custom fit and retail knowledge. Thankfully there were some very well renowned PGA professionals who gave seminars and shared coaching ideas. Several club manufacturers held Zoom and Teams meetings to showcase their products and allowed us to delve deeper into how they design and fit clubs.

All of these extra learning experiences greatly enhanced my knowledge at a time where there was little else happening in the golfing world.

From a personal point of view it was an incredible time to spend with my wife and two young children. There haven’t been too many upsides to the pandemic but I will certainly look back on the extra family time fondly.

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

Time management is definitely a daily challenge. The need to cater to the members, staff, emails, phone calls, deliveries, repairs and general day to day duties involved in the running of a busy golf club, shop, custom fit and coaching business can be staggering.

Many pre-books are now starting to arrive. The inflow of golf clothing, shoes, equipment, balls and accessories at the moment is relentless.

The challenge to merchandise the shop, create attractive and user friendly display areas, market new arrivals across several social media channels and train my staff to the various new items in stock is very time consuming.

However, the atmosphere created from all the new spring arrivals is also a very exciting one as it brings with it a new golfing season. Seeing the reaction of both members and visitors to the new products is something that I enjoy and look forward to.

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

Being open to introducing new golf products is a necessity. Taking a calculated risk is something that I have always done. Some haven’t always paid off but having a product in stock that others don’t gives your shop an edge and talking point.

Reading the trade magazines and TGI Golf newsletters, talking to other professionals in WhatsApp, getting members and staff perspectives is all part of the process.

When it comes to pricing I have three price points on clothing (entry level, mid-range and premium) and the same on shoes. Thankfully golf ball manufacturers also cater this way and I stock golf balls from five different suppliers.

When it comes to golf clubs I stock and custom fit eight brands – TaylorMade, Titleist, Callaway, PING, Wilson, Srixon, Cleveland and Miura. A set of seven irons can range from €450 to €2,500. Of course not all members want or even need to spend over €1,000 for a set of clubs to play once a week so I make sure I can still offer an exceptional set of custom fit irons at a competitive price

The XPOS system has been a huge help to me. When I started at Naas I realised I needed to upgrade my EPOS system and ensure I was using it to its maximum.

The XPOS system has helped me to realise what is selling, what is not and what is making me the best margins, and it helps me to keep track of my inventory.

How do you manage your day?

My day starts at 8.30am where I spend time in my office completing admin work, rosters, emails, pricing new arrivals, lesson bookings, social media, banking and so on. This then frees me up for the rest of the day to meet with members and guests and to coach with very little further distraction, therefore giving my full attention to the task at hand.

I meet with my staff then to discuss anything that needs to be actioned such as incoming deliveries, repairs, competitions and hire equipment for the following day.

Coaching and custom fitting takes place in my studio or on course from midday to 6pm. Having an indoor facility located next to the pro shop in a very visible area is incredible. Having all my coaching and custom fitting equipment on hand makes life much easier and makes for a better customer experience.

I have recently introduced an online booking system for golf lessons and custom fitting through Bookeo. It has cut out enormously on admin, tests and missed phone calls and has added extra coaching and business to my diary and shop.

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

We have totally reimagined the junior programme at Naas Golf Club, placing more structure and emphasis on the benefits of coaching for the current junior members. By having a set day’s coaching over the winter and spring periods it is my belief that the juniors who have availed of this will hit the ground running come the summer.

Hosting Easter and summer camps with enthusiastic and engaged coaches is very important also to showcase golf as a welcoming, enjoyable, inclusive and safe sport for anyone. Last winter we completed coaching in local schools and the uptake from junior girls was very encouraging to see.

In recent years I established the Offaly Junior Golf Academy to spearhead the development of junior golf in the county. This encompassed five different clubs with regular high level coaching of their juniors. Unfortunately due to a busy work schedule at my current club I have had to move on from this but I look forward to seeing how it progresses and the possibility of setting up something similar in Co. Kildare where I am now based.

Are you trying to attract more women to golf?

We started supporting Golf Ireland’s Women’s Get into Golf programme and gained about a dozen new members over the course of the year and it’s great to see them establishing themselves in the club and they’ve made new friends that they would never have found before through golf.

They are spending more time at the club, getting custom fit and using the full range of facilities getting involved in teams too.

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?

There is an amazing swing studio here at Naas. I didn’t have one at my previous club, and for some reason, I was a little sceptical if I’d make the most of having one. But as soon as I walked into the studio at Naas it took my breath away and now I would never do another lesson on a driving range if I could avoid it.

With the Irish climate it’s been a great help, I can’t remember the last time I had a lesson cancelled because of the weather, it just doesn’t happen anymore. I have all my custom fitting and coaching equipment in one place and it has been fundamental to our success here.

The room is so big it is also used for group presentations, fitness classes and all sorts.

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

I joined in 2016. I was in another group previously, but I never really felt a part of it. When I made the switch to TGI Golf I really felt like I was part of one big family and among like-minded PGA professionals.

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

Making the switch to TGI Golf has been the best business decision I have ever made. The communication from the team, whether my dedicated retail consultant visiting me in store, or the product and industry information we receive centrally keeps all of us well informed and well ahead of our customers who are more knowledgeable about products than ever before.

The TGI Golf email marketing system provides me with everything I need to communicate with my club members and customers, but leaves me in control of what I send and when I send it, which is important to me as an independent retailer.

The events staged by TGI give us the opportunity to still play golf at some amazing venues, but also come together with our fellow PGA professionals, which is always a great learning experience as you always pick up something new from your peers.

I’ve also started working closely with TGI Golf Travel in planning coaching breaks and holidays. The team are so knowledgeable and help plan everything perfectly, so all I need to do is look forward to the trip.

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

I turned pro in 2006 – from a playing point of view my career highlights have been winning several ProAms and representing Ireland in the TGI Partnership Trophy at The Belfry.

I was a trainee at Carton House Golf Club and in those formative years I learned so much through director of golf Francis Howley, who is now head pro at Portmarnock Golf Club. He taught me the necessary attributes to be a top PGA professional such as customer service, marketing, merchandising and so on, and that led me to become a professional in two very established clubs in Tullamore and Naas.

I also won the ‘TGI Golf New Partner of the Year’ award in 2017 and that plaque still sits very proudly on display in my pro shop.

 

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick April 23, 2022 09:21
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