David McKidd, head professional at Lightcliffe Golf Club in Yorkshire, talks about surveying members to find out what products he should stock in the shop and why he offers free coaching to juniors.
What year did you turn professional and what have been your career highlights, both playing and employment?
I turned professional in 2002 as it was something I had always looked to do. Playing unfortunately came lower on the pecking order as my teaching took off, however I have still managed some nice finishes with a couple of runner-up spots in local Yorkshire events and some top tens.
I try to still play a few events each year but practice time is limited, so I do enjoy the TGI Golf days and the odd pro-am through the season.
I have some nice results in the TGI Team Challenge held in Turkey each year, being in the prizes over the last three years, with fifth and sixth placed finish and winning the Texas Scramble this year. The event is so good and is always a massive bonus to come away in the prizes.
What daily challenges do you face in running a pro shop and teaching?
The daily challenges faced in running the shop and teaching is to get the right balance of teaching and servicing both members and visitors alike. As I teach a lot it is important I am still seen in the shop at busy times. So balancing that to fit in with members’ lessons requires constant attention.
It is also important for me to be in the shop more often to fulfil the needs of the club and any work I need to carry out for them.
There is a constant flow of new golf products – how do you manage your stock to serve the needs of your members and visitors?
Managing stock is always difficult in a small shop as turnover can sometimes be slow if the right products are not stocked. I try to communicate with my members regularly to see what they would like in store.
We use questionnaires to determine what the members are interested in buying, from colours to hardware and manufacturers as well as price.
I utilise my Crossover Technologies EPOS system to help me see buying trends and patterns in the shop to aid my buying knowledge to help make better decisions and not get overloaded with stock.
How do you manage your day?
I like to make sure that by the end of the day I have a plan in place for the following day, looking at timings and how many lessons are in the diary and plan jobs that need doing.
I work closely with my staff so they understand the role they play each day in providing a high level of service to every person who steps through the door.
Things can change throughout the day as people come through the store so it is important both my staff and I are able to adapt and prioritise the jobs list. Always having the service level at the forefront.
What are you doing to support junior golf and introduce kids to the sport?
Supporting junior golf is hugely important to me and something I love doing. All junior members receive seven free group coaching sessions each season, this is to help them progress and gain more enjoyment and direction within the game hopefully keeping them in golf longer.
Outside the membership I run free taster days, which then leads them to the academy providing tuition and a taste of everything golf, hopefully converting them into a junior member at the end of the academy. This also gives them a smoother transition and clear pathway to get into golf and get the most from it.
Are you trying to attract more women to golf?
Yes, most certainly. Taster days are provided for ladies, men and juniors. Again, after the taster day I try to encourage interested parties onto the academy to help gain more experience in a fun, friendly learning environment for all new starters or people who would just like to return to the game after a period out.
Do you have any programmes in place such as academy membership to make it easier to introduce beginners to the game?
Yes, as explained the academy is a great pathway to start golf again and in my eyes it takes around three to four years on average to feel a new starter is ready to gain full value of a membership.
Working with the club we have introduced a staged membership if coming from the academy. This membership is discounted heavily in the first year, then creeps up in the second and third – it’s not until the fourth year they pay full membership.
Following this route has proved very successful and helped retain membership numbers year on year. I have also encouraged the membership to help the new starters by providing a buddy scheme, this is an established member being a point of contact for any new starter joining from the academy; they are available to introduce them to other players who they can play with and get a clear direction and help to gain their first handicap and the transition into a full playing member.
A lot of PGA pros are having to be a step ahead of their competitors in their offerings and technology – what additional added value services do you provide?
At the moment all I use are a number of training aids and videos during lessons. However I see technology being a massive part of the game and am currently looking at investing in a Trackman 4, which will help me provide a better service but also take my business to the next level.