I often wonder if clubs use the skills and experience of the club professional (pro) to their advantage.
Traditionally the pro has been somewhat an enigma in that once upon a time the best golfer in a golf club could be found cleaning the clubs and shoes of a 24 handicap member! Thankfully, those days are gone and in many clubs today the pro spends most time in the shop selling equipment and taking green fees. When not in the shop the pro can often be seen on the practice ground giving lessons. From a member’s perspective this is probably the most tangible advantage of having a pro, and few other sports can offer their members one to one professional instruction any day of the week. But the pro can offer far more than this to the club.
Golf club professionals are often self-employed, self-contained and self-motivated. When I became a committee member of my club in the 1970’s there was little interaction between the pro and other club staff and what surprised me was that the pro was never asked to advise or even give an opinion on any aspect of course presentation.
I could not think of a better person to advise, as and when required, on course presentation from the only person in the club who has experience of playing courses set up for professional tournaments.
I realise not every club wants to host tournaments, but every club has its own ‘majors’ in the form of the club championship, opens, etc. The pro is also a valuable source of information regarding the rules of golf (especially relief procedures), yet we as committee members would often interpret rules by thumbing through the rules book and then the definitions of the rules book. We never asked the pro.
Many clubs now see their pro as the club’s ‘Director of First Impressions’ and, as anyone from a sales background will know, if that first impression is not good, the customer will not buy from you and worst of all may buy from your main competitor instead.
I believe the club pro should be seen as one of the club’s biggest assets in that they are the first person a visitor will meet, and that visitor may be worth thousands of pounds to the club and may return year after year if looked after properly.
The first impression a visitor has of your club cannot be overstated. The pro is often the first person they see. The value of that first impression maybe worth far more than the professional’s retainer.