Nick Williams has been the head professional at St Enodoc Golf Club, Cornwall since 1981. He talks about ways to get more juniors to play golf and the techniques and technology he utilises to ensure his pro shop is as profitable as can be.
What year did you turn professional and what have been your career highlights, both playing and employment?
I turned professional in 1974 at the age of 17 at Looe Golf Club in Cornwall, having been born in Saltash (a hundred yard Cornishman). I stayed as an assistant for seven years, learning my trade at Exeter Golf and Country Club in Devon and at Tavistock and then back to St Mellion Golf and Country in 1977, where I coached and played under the guidance of John Yeo. During this time I tried to qualify for the European Tour (unsuccessfully) and then, when the qualifying school moved to Europe, I simply couldn’t afford to go so I concentrated on coaching and playing the regional tours. In 1980 I successfully passed my PGA exams and by the March of 1981 became the head professional here at St Enodoc where I have been for the last 38 years!
What daily challenges do you face in running a pro shop and teaching?
The main problem is trying to come up with a happy medium between teaching and retailing. Over the years I have found that trying to do the two, side-by-side, successfully, is very difficult because for the hours you might put into teaching, it means that you are not in your shop when the customer wants to see and speak with you about equipment and so on.
I personally have found by restricting my coaching and concentrating on the retailing side of the business, it has become more of a success as members and customers soon get disinterested in buying if you are not there in person to greet them. That famous saying ‘Oh I will pop back later’ is not good for business … as they generally won’t!
There is a constant flow of new golf products – how do you manage your stock to serve the needs of your members and visitors?
About nine years ago I got involved with Crossover who set me up with their retail programme which was the best thing I ever did. It means that I can always monitor where my stock levels are and find it much easier to keep up with the latest trends stock wise. I would recommend any new young professional setting up their business to buy into this system to keep their stock under constant control.
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?
Obviously, as with the way technology is now, if you are not using it you are way behind the marketplace so we have our own fitting and teaching studio here now at the golf club. We use multi cameras for teaching and the Foresight GC2 club fitting and coaching system, which has certainly boosted club sales and has been a massive boost to our coaching programme. Shop-wise, we monitor the internet everyday for prices on equipment and use this as a fantastic sales tool. Members can come in, try and buy at the absolute best prices.