The club’s golf course is the most significant amenity and the reason most members join the club.Â As a result the head golf professional is a highly visible and respected member of the club’s management team.Â But as a number of authors have pointed out, there is a critical distinction between the game of golf and the business of golf.Â To be successful the head golf professional must be a master of both.
While the Professional Golfers’ Association does a great job of preparing the golf professional for golf operations management, related business principles and practices, and how to interact with members and golf committees, there are a number of business disciplines that I expect the head golf professional to carry out to meet my expectations:
- Establish, interpret, and enforce all club policies, rules, and regulations relating to the golf operations.Â These include the pro shop, practice facilities, golf course, cart storage facility, lessons and golf programming, guest policies, club storage and repair, locker rooms, and other areas and issues relating to the game.
- Establish and maintain a robust schedule of golf programming and events to meet the needs and desires of golfing members.
- Create written standards, policies, and procedures (SPPs) for all aspects of the golf operation.Â These foster organization, consistency, and continuity.Â They also form the basis for the department’s training material.
- Benchmark rounds, revenues, and payroll.Â This information provides the power to support decisions, demonstrates knowledge and competency to all (particularly to members and the golf committees), allows analysis and better organized efforts, and supports requests for resources.
- Institute the discipline of Tools to Beat Budget.Â It makes the head golf professional far more knowledgeable about the operation, ensures budgets are met, and makes future year budgeting far easier and more accurate.
- Ensure close coordination with the golf course superintendent regarding marking the golf course, daily set up, seasonal playing conditions, schedule of annual cultural practices, and preparation for major golf events.Â The better the cooperation and working relationship between the head golf professional and the superintendent, the better the golfing experience for members.
- Participate in the Golf Operations Committee made up of the superintendent, head golf professional, and the general manager.Â The purpose of this committee is to give formal structure to monthly meetings and decisions impacting the club’s golfing experience and ensures that the operational stakeholders are fully aware of golf plans and issues in a timely manner.
- Serve as the club’s representative on the club’s golf committees, attending meetings, providing information as requested, making professional recommendations regarding the golf operations and golf programming, and keeping the general manager fully informed on all significant matters addressed by the committee.
- Establish and execute a structured calling program for infrequent golfers and, conversely, a rewards program for those who play frequently.Â The golf professional should always try to discover the reasons for low usage by golf members â€“ as they may be at risk of leaving the club.Â At the same time, the club should find ways of saying “thanks” to those who play regularly.Â Coordinate results of both programs with the membership director.
- Prepare and keep current a golf cart storage facility handbook detailing the standards of storing and maintaining golf carts and properly cleaning and maintaining the cart storage facility.Â Standards should include listing all supplies to stock the carts, daily cart operation procedures and checks, and all cleaning equipment and supplies to properly maintain the golf carts.Â Ensure the organization, order, cleanliness, repair, and security of the golf cart storage facility.
- Play golf with members on a regular basis.Â The professional golf staff must play golf with a wide variety of members, from core golfers to newly-joined members to those who are new to the game.Â There is no greater way to encourage golf participation among the membership.Â The professional staff should avoid playing regularly with a small group of favored members as this may cause resentment among others.
- Develop a detailed departmental training plan with major emphasis on the club’s service culture, member service, and golf etiquette; course management and tee time reservations; golf programming and event preparation; pro shop policies and procedures; retail merchandising and sales; point of sale procedures; practice facility set up; golf cart cleaning, set-up, and storage; and personal and equipment safety.
- Establish procedures for a daily tee sheet reconciliation as an audit to verify the capture of all green fees, guest fees, and cart fees.Â Given the club’s immense investment in its golf course, accurately accounting for all rounds and revenues is a required discipline.
- Develop, implement, and enforce a ready-play program to ensure appropriate speed of play on the golf course.Â Slow play is one of the most frequent complaints relating to golf.Â Being pro-active by identifying and working with slow-playing golfers will go a long way in relieving complaints and maximizing course utilization.
- Establish and maintain a robust schedule of free clinics, demonstrations, and practice facility activities to promote the game, encourage lessons, and interact with members.
- If responsible for the golf pro shop operation, meet all the requirements spelled out in What I Expect from My Retail Manager.
- Coordinate golf activities and events schedule with the activities director who is responsible for the club’s master event and activities schedule.
It is recognized that the Head Golf Professional may need some support and assistance in developing organizational materials and establishing certain disciplines such as benchmarking and Tools to Beat Budget, but experience has shown that these disciplines help better organize and operate the golf department.Â As with other club departments, the general manager’s requirements for the golf operations take some time and effort to set up, but once the heavy lifting is done, the overall functioning of the department is smoother and easier.
Thanks and have a great day!
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