The head professional at Woking Golf Club in Surrey for the last 20 years talks about the challenges involved in managing a successful shop while also teaching the game and the technology he utilises.
What year did you turn professional and what have been your career highlights, both playing and employment?
I turned pro in 1993 at the age of 25 after having a previous career in the Armed Forces. Playing for my living was never a realistic aspiration as I had set my heart on becoming the club pro at a prestigious private members’ club. I did however record one win as an assistant, but my winnings didn’t even fill my petrol tank!
What daily challenges do you face in running a pro shop and teaching?
The biggest challenge in running our shop is probably much the same as every club pro – trying to keep lots of plates spinning at the same time. Shop customers provide a constant and immediate demand on your time, but simultaneously phone calls must be taken, emails responded to and a profitable business managed; often with limited resources.
Teaching brings a different set of challenges, but I find on the whole these are more predictable, and through knowledge and experience are more easily overcome. Our aim is to find out in detail what our customer wants from their lesson and then deliver the content in easy-to-understand language that can be implemented immediately with quantifiable results.
There is a constant flow of new golf products – how do you manage your stock to serve the needs of your members and visitors?
We use a combination of the Crossover XPoS system and intuition to control our stock. With frequent stock-takes our data remains accurate and the sales analysis tells us what sells and what doesn’t. All our buying is based on previous sales data, so we keep things pretty tight with high stock-turns and reduced stock-holding.
If we are unsure about the suitability of a new product for our clientele, then I will run a survey past the membership to get a feel for the level of interest.
How do you manage your day?
We operate the shop diary through Google Calendar, which every member of staff has constant access to on their phones. I will set aside time slots for banking, admin and coaching, but ultimately the customer is king and many times the best laid plans go up in smoke and you do what you have to do. I think that is one of the elements that make our job so interesting and varied (as well as occasionally frustrating and exhausting!)
What are you doing to support junior golf and introduce kids to the sport?
This is a difficult one for us at Woking. The club is very private and only children of members are encouraged to join. Also, because of the long carries off the tees over heather and the speed of play (we are predominantly a two-ball course), the course is not the easiest environment to learn the game.
As a result, we focus our attention on the slightly older kids who have learned the game elsewhere normally. They can join the club from the age of 12, and then we provide junior academy coaching in all the school holidays, which is heavily subsidised by the club.