Golf’s ‘new normal’, with Eddie Reid 

John Shortt
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Eddie Reid with Paul McGinley

It’s been a difficult year for everyone, and golf professionals have certainly not been immune. What’s the general feeling among PGA Pros as things stand?   

Many haven’t had time to draw breath since the return of golf. In the early days of the return they were the focal point of everything as the main buildings of the golf clubs were still closed.  

As things have settled down, tee times in general remain full and with such a demand, teaching, fitting, and serving members both old and new has been the priority. From a business perspective, it is a matter of trying to fill a three-month financial black hole by the time the season ends.   

How did the lockdown impact the day-to-day of the average golf professional? Have they managed to recover their positions?  

For some it was quite an enlightening experience. Remember that these guys and girls have very little family life during the summer, indeed year-round due to their commitment to the club.  

During lockdown it was clear they benefited from walks with the family, BBQs and all the normal things people take for granted.  

As the leading partnership of PGA Professionals in the UK & Ireland, how did TGI look to help the partners in the lockdown times?  

As a services group dedicated to PGA Professionals, we have a vast array of support systems in place for our Partners to assist them in running their businesses. As lockdown hit, these support systems became essential and we found ourselves becoming experts in new areas, such as Business Interruption Insurance and furlough schemes! 

We put a three phase plan in place ‘Ready, Steady, Go’. Ready, was making sure everyone had their business ready for the financial impact of lockdown. Steady was getting them ready for when business could open up againFinally, Go – being there to assist once golf was given the green light. 

I think we’ve all been quite taken aback at how well golf and particularly golf retail has bounced back, it’s been quite spectacular. 

Have you noticed any change in consumer behaviour that pros should be aware of? Buying habits/online rather than in store etc. 

Consumer behaviour has been dictated to by the circumstances. Ironically the on-course market has been booming since we returned with a combination of staycations and returning/new members having some money to spend on equipment in particular. Pros who have invested in indoor swing/fitting studios are now seeing the huge benefit that brings to their business as well as their customer experience offering  

Are there initiatives that TGI have brought in that can help the partners? Team on the ground in each territory/helping with email mailshots/online selling/helping pros shift excess stock or old stock /repayment options etc.  

Much of what you’ve said is in place for our Partners day-to-day. We have a team of Retail Consultants who have dedicated regions; these guys are highly experienced and visit Partners in store to assist them in every aspect of their business. 

We have email marketing systems in place an assist our Partners in sending high quality e-newsletters to their customers. We’re very much behind the scenes, so the golf consumer may not see our brand as we are there to support the independent retailer, so their brand and name is far more important than ours.   

One thing we have seen an increase in during lockdown though is online stores. The e-commerce golf world has a lot of rules and regulations so it can be a bit of a minefield, particularly for the on-course pro, so we’ve helped to steer them through that and have a number of Partners with Shopify accounts – in fact, so much so that we have a working partnership with Shopify in the pipeline.  

What do you make of clubs who have let staff go or furloughed many staff? How does the future look for the golf industry and the PGA Professional?  

The pandemic struck during a time where there were some clear issues and challenges around the structure and application of many golf clubs which, in turn, affects the retained staff such as golf pros and caterers.  

The challenges are still there and may well be magnified by the crisis. Any business which is run by volunteers where a board or committee change on an annual or biannual basis is doomed to failure.   

I’m not knocking those who do it, indeed I thank them, but from a commercial point of view it is a very fragile management structure where the only concern is that it creates a culture to save money rather than earn it.  

No imagination or entrepreneurism is stifling for any business in the long term. This can lead to the club, committee and members seeing the retained teams as a cost rather than an asset.  

Golf clubs must ensure they have a team with them that can support what the golf clubs’ overall objectives and strategy are. This must include regular strategic review with the pro, realignment where required and confirmation that everyone involved has clear and concise direction and that everyone is pulling together. 

This also requires the golf pro to be inclusive and play their part being an exceptional professional in respect of communication and customer service. Golf clubs must manage their expectations, use the experience well and look to become a commercial entity rather than a business run by people who have no stake holding other than their own car parking place in the car park. 

If the golf club sector can become modern day relevant, then things look very positive. In 25 years’ time good golfers will be members at good golf clubs, buying from good golf pros offering exceptional service. 

With travel being a big issue how has your holiday company TGI Golf Travel coped and what are the plans for this?    

The travel industry has been hit hard by this pandemic and the constantly moving target of safe and unsafe countries to visit has been difficult to deal with.  

Having said that, our team were on hand throughout lockdown offering customer support, changing dates and flights as well as offering refunds where available. We have been enthused by the bookings over July/Aug/ Sept with many golfers looking to get away either domestically, which has high demand at the moment, or for sunshine trips earlytomid 2021.  

On a lighter note, our sales director Neil MacRae has become the ‘go to’ expert for comments for the BBC news channels.  

How can a pro get involved or can a consumer book directly? 

The tagline for TGI Golf Travel is ‘Custom Fit Golf Travel’ which is exactly what it is. Both PGA Professionals and consumers can book direct with us. 

It’s not just golf breaks either, we can quote for any break you want whether family trips, romantic weekend or city breaks.  

All you need to do is visit tgigolftravel.com, email sales@tgigolftravel.com or call +44 (0) 1506 353500. 

To find your nearest TGI Golf PGA Professional, visit tgigolf.com 

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