The changing role of the club PGA Professional

Bernie McGuire

A PGA professional fulfils a very important role in a golf club but this role varies from club to club. What is required or expected at one club will be quite different at another and where for example a PGA professional will be expected to be a bona fide Director of Golf at one, they may ‘only’ be required to operate and manage the shop at another. So before employing a PGA pro, or assessing current performance it is important that clubs understand what this role is in their club and how their current, or potential, PGA professional can fill it adequately.

The PGA in Ireland can assist in this regard and they offer advice and guidance to clubs in relation to the role of the PGA professional and making sure clubs get (or have) the right person for their club. They are committed to the idea of running golf clubs like a business and getting the right person for the job is a vital ingredient in the mix so they are available to help you define the role as it exists at your club.

But what can a PGA professional bring to a club?

1. A PGA professional can make you a better golfer
No matter how good, or bad, you are at golf a PGA professional can help you improve. They are the best in the business when it comes to tuition and advice and while all teaching styles differ a good PGA pro can set you on a programme of development and improvement which will have you not only playing better but enjoying the game more. Of course this service isn’t only open to club members and golfers have been known to travel long distances to see particular PGA pros so this service can bring in new members, green fee revenues and also promote the golf club.

2. A PGA professional is a good sounding board
Given the level of training that is involved in becoming a PGA professional they all have a unique knowledge of the game and most have been involved in it all of their lives. This gives a PGA professional a unique perspective which can be utilised by the golf club when it comes to running the club. They can help and advise on increasing green fee or membership revenues, promotion and marketing of the club as well as be involved with committees for course discussions. The pro is on the front line and know the positives and negatives at your club so they can be an invaluable asset when you are considering ways to improve or looking at making changes.

3. Customer service and customer relationships
In most clubs the PGA professional is the first, and in some cases only, member of staff that a fee paying golfer or competition entering member interacts with. In fact the person at the club who has the most interaction with customers is the PGA Professional at 43% while the next highest is the GM at 13%. As such, how they represent your club has a direct impact on the overall market perception of your club and it is important to understand that this is a key role. Interacting well with members and visitors can be time consuming, particularly with large member competitions or societies but doing a good job in this area ensures member retention, new member generation and society bookings. Happy members of fee paying golfers will speak positively about your club and recommend it to others and this is best form of advertising that any club can receive.

4. Advice
A good PGA professional is always on hand to offer advice. If you are looking to find out about new equipment, change your current clubs or maybe even invest in a new Galvin Green rainsuit for the winter months, your PGA professional can help. They can give you the benefit of their knowledge in relation to the newest club technologies, advise on whether the ‘newest, latest, greatest driver’ is in fact something that can help your game or whether you’d perhaps be better off to invest in new wedges or a new putter as these are the areas you struggle with. Many PGA professionals now offer a custom fitting service at the club and even more are now starting to organise overseas members trips to Portugal, Spain or beyond. So they can be a huge source of advice, if you take the time to ask.

The PGA are committed to the idea of running golf clubs like a business and getting the right person for the job is a vital ingredient in the mix so they are available to help you define the role as it exists at your club and have defined six ‘job descriptors’ that cover the majority of roles held by PGA professional at most golf clubs. Equally as important as defining the role however,  is the fact that just as the club requirements are different for each role, the club need to be aware that the remuneration also needs to be different to reflect the level of knowledge, expertise and effort involved for each.

The titles for these roles are shown below and if your club is in any doubt as to what you have at your club or what you might require please contact the PGA directly (details at the end of this article)

PGA Assistant Professional
PGA Club Professional
PGA Golf Manager / Head Professional
PGA Director of Golf
PGA Academy Manager
PGA Teaching Professional

We have come a long way since the downturn and it’s great to see that the role of the modern PGA professional is being embraced by the majority of golf clubs. Things have changed since then of course and how we work with and interact with our PGA professional has moved on from what it once was too. Nowadays, with time being a key factor, it’s important that the PGA professional manages their time effectively but also that they are able to be available when you need them and with the launch of apps like BirdieTime this is now possible. This app allows you to search for PGA professionals in your area and book lessons with them through the app. It helps PGA professionals manage their time more effectively and it is starting to get some traction here in Ireland.

So, given the right operating conditions and role definition, having a PGA Professional at your club can significantly enhance your offering. It can help you to increase revenue across the board from the bar to the driving range and it can bring in golfers from outside the club for lessons and green fees. They can offer advice and guidance on a host of golf related issues and they truly live up to their billing as ‘The heart of golf’.

We could of course be here all day extolling the virtues of the PGA professional and these are just some of the benefits associated with having a PGA pro at your club and there are so many more. To talk to someone at the PGA in Ireland any aspect of the role of a PGA professional or how your club can receive the advice mentioned please contact Paul Wisniewski at the PGA Irish Region on or call him on 085 8821756.

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