Alan Wright is helping Craigmillar Park Golf Club find its feet after a rocky spell behind the scenes, aided by a flexible membership he brought with him from his previous PGA post, writes Martin Dempster.
“The golf club has been through a transitional period, like a lot of golf clubs are at the moment,” said Wright, who succeeded Scott Gourlay at the Edinburgh venue last August. “However, I saw that as an opportunity rather than a negative.
“We introduced a new membership initiative called 3-2-1, which worked quite well for me in a rural area when I was at Swaffham in Norfolk and there seemed no doubt it was going to work in an urban area like this.
“It appeals to a younger workforce and people with less time on their hands due to family commitments, and it is working quite well.
“A member buys a block of points and when they play, they use up either one, two or three points. It is a quite simple idea, really.
“They pay £300 for 30 points and they are stacked on a card. If they find they are using it quite a lot, which a few are, it is an opportunity to upgrade them to a full member.
“They can also top up 10 points a time at a cost of £100 and, since this was introduced, we’ve got 25 new 3-2-1 members.
“They are paying for their golf in a different way and the other thing that I feel is important is that they feel part of the club, so they are eligible for handicap competitions and they also get a bar card.”
Supported by The PGA in terms of recruitment and contract negotiations, Wright has also made changes that he feels are giving full and 3-2-1 members more value for their money.
“I’ve had Trackman in and rebuilt an indoor area at the club. It was the first one in Scotland and is called the Trackman Cage,” he added.
“What Scott had in there was more of a fitting centre whereas now it is primarily for coaching and we have simulator in there as well. There’s more going on in terms of an offering for a member.
“Generally, we are also opening the door a little bit more to visitors and groups. That also worked well for me down in Norfolk.
“I think a lot of clubs have to be mindful of the fact that there are a lot more nomadic golfers out there now. If you provide them with a good, quality service at a price that is attractive, they will keep coming back.
“And they might not want to join a club. And putting pressure on those people is not the right thing to do because they are never going to become members. But they don’t mind paying £20 for a green fee every now and again.
“I’ve been given a bit of leeway. If someone phones up looking for a time, it’s not on a rigid price structure. It’s similar to the 3-2-1 scheme. We are trying to get people to go out in the afternoon so it doesn’t affect the members.
“The members are seeing less disruption yet are seeing more income coming into the club.I work closely with the board and I feel confident that we are all signing from the same hymn sheet.
“I’ve been a qualified PGA Pro for 21 years and I don’t mind admitting that I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made over the years. This is my third head pro’s job and I think I now just about have the balance right.”