The value of your Club Pro­fes­sional

Golfers in this coun­try un­der­es­ti­mate the value of their club pro.

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - FEATURE - WORDS BY PETER WIL­LIAMS

They don't take as many les­sons as they should, they buy most of their equip­ment from the large re­tail chains and don't recog­nise what value a good pro can add to a club.

The NZPGA is in the process of chang­ing that by work­ing hard to ful­fil the or­gan­i­sa­tion's mis­sion: “help­ing more peo­ple play more golf, bet­ter.”

So, it's en­cour­ag­ing that golf clubs and, in the less pop­u­lated ar­eas, dis­trict as­so­ci­a­tions see the ben­e­fits of hav­ing a PGA qual­i­fied pro work­ing, min­gling and play­ing among club play­ers.

“Re­search has shown us that a golfer who uses a coach­ing pro­gramme is a hap­pier golfer” ac­cord­ing to Do­minic Sains­bury, Gen­eral man­ager of the New Zealand PGA.

“And a hap­pier golfer will play more be­cause his or her game is im­prov­ing, and if they play more they'll spend more on food and bev­er­age, more on equip­ment and most im­por­tantly they'll re­new their mem­ber­ship.”

The NZPGA has 470 members, but only 72 have jobs at clubs that could be de­scribed as Head Pro or Di­rec­tor of Golf or some such de­scrip­tion. Oth­ers are on the staff at var­i­ous pro shops, free­lance teach­ers at driv­ing ranges or work­ing in the re­tail equip­ment in­dus­try. Some are pure tour­na­ment play­ers.

Alan Rose is one of those 72 PGA pros in a full-time po­si­tion. The for­mer Otago, Welling­ton and Auck­land rep­re­sen­ta­tive am­a­teur player has been a pro for nearly twenty years and last July took up the role of Head Pro at Wanaka Golf Club.

With 1036 members, Wanaka is by some dis­tance the big­gest golf club in the South Is­land, and among the top ten in the coun­try.

“I see my­self as be­ing at the coal­face of the golf club, the front man” he says.

Alan Rose is one of those 72 PGA pros in a full-time po­si­tion. The for­mer Otago, Welling­ton and Auck­land rep­re­sen­ta­tive am­a­teur player has been a pro for nearly twenty years and last July took up the role of Head Pro at Wanaka Golf Club.

“When peo­ple check in to play as a mem­ber or a green fee player, or to hit balls on the range, they call at the shop first. It's up to us (wife Ma­ree works with him, along with a part timer) to make sure their ex­pe­ri­ence is a good one.”

Rose also makes a point of play­ing with his members on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. He makes sure he's in a four on Satur­day af­ter­noons as of­ten as he can be, and with as many dif­fer­ent members as pos­si­ble.

“If you don't play with your members you miss out” he says.

“After all, be­ing in busi­ness means you want to meet your clients.”

As well as find­ing out what members are think­ing of the var­i­ous is­sues in the club, he's al­ways pre­pared to of­fer a few coach­ing tips on the way round. Some of them might even fol­low up with a full course of les­sons!

He ad­mits though, that he's for­tu­nate to be work­ing at a club with a big mem­ber­ship and a sound fi­nan­cial po­si­tion. The ar­range­ment is that he op­er­ates the green fees, the hire clubs, golf carts and range balls on be­half of the club for a com­mis­sion. Then he runs the golf shop and coach­ing as his own busi­ness.

But it's not nec­es­sar­ily that easy else­where.

This means a mod­ern-day club pro learns not just about how to coach, how to fix a grip and how to do a club fit­ting, but about how to man­age a golf op­er­a­tion. “We want to have as many play­ers as pos­si­ble to have ac­cess to a pro” says Sains­bury, “be­cause we be­lieve their golf will be bet­ter for it.”

So, for Do­minic Sains­bury and the NZPGA, a ma­jor fo­cus has been con­vinc­ing clubs of the value of hav­ing a pro­fes­sional on staff, and more im­por­tantly the role they can play at a club.

“What we were find­ing is that clubs were pay­ing their man­agers big salaries, some­where be­tween $70,000 and $200,000 a year and then hav­ing the pro on a ba­sic re­tainer around $35,000.”

With the golf shop ex­pected to be open seven days a week, up to 12 hours a day, that sort of ar­range­ment doesn't leave the pro much time to make a de­cent in­come through other chan­nels like coach­ing and sell­ing equip­ment.

And with Golf Warehouse and/or Pro Drive now open in all the main cen­tres, not many on-course golf shops sell much hard­ware any­more any­way - be­cause they just can't com­pete on price with the buy­ing power of the big op­er­a­tors.

There­fore, the PGA is en­cour­ag­ing clubs to se­ri­ously con­sider putting golf pros into club gen­eral man­age­ment roles, where ap­pro­pri­ate. It's be­gin­ning to hap­pen.

The re­cently merged Royal Auck­land and Grange Golf Club has Rob Sel­ley – both a PGA mem­ber and a univer­sity com­merce grad­u­ate – as its Gen­eral Man­ager.

Over in Devon­port, the Waitem­ata Golf Club has had as their man­ager Robert Rookes, at one time the club pro at Mt Maun­ganui and more re­cently a coach in China.

But whether as a gen­eral man­ager or a di­rec­tor of golf op­er­a­tions or a tra­di­tional old head pro, the PGA reck­ons its members can play a re­ally im­por­tant role in grow­ing the game and keep­ing more play­ers in­volved, more of­ten.

“We are de­ter­mined to el­e­vate our ed­u­ca­tion stan­dards” em­pha­sises Do­minic Sains­bury.

This means a mod­ern-day club pro learns not just about how to coach, how to fix a grip and how to do a club fit­ting, but about how to man­age a golf op­er­a­tion.

“We want to have as many play­ers as pos­si­ble to have ac­cess to a pro” says Sains­bury, “be­cause we be­lieve their golf will be bet­ter for it.”

As Alan Rose, one of ten PGA members now work­ing in the ever­bur­geon­ing Queen­stown-CromwellWanaka area, in­sists: “a pro is a great as­set for a golf club.”

Wanaka Golf Course.

Alan Rose, Head Pro at Wanaka Golf Club.

“If you don't play with your members you miss out” he says. “After all, be­ing in busi­ness means you want to meet your clients.”

Pic­turesque Wanaka Golf Course.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.