Meet the general manager: Barry Forster

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick May 9, 2024 11:33

From Enmore Park Golf Club in Somerset, general manager Barry Forster talks about his role, managing his time, increasing the profitability of the pro shop and how TGI Golf has helped him and the club.

How has your business adapted to the golf industry’s changes since the start of this decade?

I started as head professional at Enmore Park in September 2019 with the intention of keeping stock low and offering a first-class fitting experience.

Covid hit and threw that all out the window due to supply issues and therefore like many others, I overstocked. It has been challenging over the last 18 months to get back to the original plan, but we are getting there.

Last year I took on the role of general manager at the club, which I am starting to see happen at other clubs, and therefore my assistant now manages the day-to-day operations of the business. I have always tried to keep a good cash flow so I can react accordingly should the landscape of the industry change or opportunities arise.

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

Balancing between administrative tasks, teaching / coaching sessions, and family time can be a constant juggle. There’s always a need to prioritise and efficiently manage time to ensure everything gets done without compromising quality.

In teaching, each student or client comes with their own learning style, strengths and challenges. Being able to adapt teaching methods and techniques to suit individual needs requires flexibility and creativity.

Dealing with unexpected situations from last-minute cancellations to equipment breakdowns can occur anytime, but I also have a superb team around me, which I can’t emphasise enough how important that is.

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

Data, data, data.

Having an up to date till system such as Xpos to track sales is important and then using that data to work closely with each company ASM to ultimately limit your exposure to overstocking.
We custom fit most of the major brands which our members love and this gives them a great range of products and prices to choose from.

How do you manage your day?

Before diving into tasks, I review my to-do list and prioritise based on urgency and importance.

I identify the most important tasks that need to be completed and allocate time accordingly. For example, I might allocate a block of time in the morning for administrative tasks and meetings, followed by dedicated blocks for teaching / coaching sessions.

While I strive to stick to my schedule, I remain flexible to accommodate unexpected meetings, urgent tasks or interruptions. I try to build buffer time into my schedule to handle unforeseen events without derailing the rest of my day. I rely heavily on my digital calendar to make sure I do not miss anything.

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

We hold weekly junior sessions and run school holiday camps each half term and summer holidays.

This year we have organised getting back into one local school where we will introduce golf to more than 120 kids and our goal is to link up with more schools by the end of the year.

We also successfully put together a proposal to the county golf union for matched funding, which will not only provide extra coaching sessions but equipment to kids that need it.

Are you trying to attract more women to golf?

The club is very proactive in introducing more women into golf and the women’s section at Enmore Park is superb. They are on hand to meet new women at coaching sessions, support new players on the course to get handicaps and are always there to help.

I am very lucky. Enmore joined The R&A’s Women in Golf charter, which is our commitment to not only encourage more women to take up the sport but encourages participation in committees and board positions.

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

Over the last two to three years, I have worked hard with the committees and volunteers to create a pathway for beginners to ultimately navigate them to membership of the club.

We hold regular beginners’ sessions and offer academy membership to give them a true feel of being a member of the club. We also recently introduced our own flexible membership that sits between academy and full membership.

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?

To be honest most of our competitors offer the same things. We have a fitting studio in the shop which is convenient and allows customers to try products easily. I use most, if not all that TGI Golf provides in terms of the MyMarketing HUB, Email Marketing Service campaigns and support.

The key for me is about staying on trend and continually looking at ways to improve, never let yourself get left behind. I have a young team who are into all technology and gadgets and If I think it will benefit them and ultimately the customer, then I will go with it.

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

I joined in 2019 when I started at Enmore Park. One of my initial priorities was aligning with a buying group. While there are various options available, the TGI Partnership stood out for several compelling reasons.

Firstly, what struck me about TGI was their approach, there was no aggressive sales pitch. Simon Keeling presented a transparent overview of the partnership and its offerings. Our discussions felt collaborative, with Simon emphasising the importance of mutual fit. It was crucial for both parties to ensure a harmonious partnership.

Secondly, TGI operates on a genuine partnership model. Beyond an initial joining fee and share purchase, there are no hidden financial commitments. The beauty of this setup lies in its reciprocity, as partners invest more in supporting the group, they stand to benefit from annual dividends.

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

Absolutely. There isn’t anything as a PGA professional they can’t support. From finances to far away teaching breaks, they have it all.

Having the ability to have your own individual style and business while having the support of the partnership to connect and share ideas with has been and continues to be brilliant.

I can wholeheartedly say that the TGI Golf Partnership excels in every aspect of its operations. Joining this partnership has proven to be one of the most rewarding and astute decisions of my professional career.

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

I qualified in 2008 under Graham Laing at North Wilts Golf Club. My playing highlights would be winning the Southwest Fourball Championships with fellow TGI partner Dan Carter and winning the Wiltshire Professional Championships in 2016.

Unfortunately, my game has dipped a bit since achieving my goal of becoming a PGA head professional. Enmore Park gave me that opportunity and I have loved every minute of being here. I have a great team and fantastic support from the members.


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick May 9, 2024 11:33
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1 Comment

  1. Tillson May 10, 10:24

    Insightful article. Great guy too

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