One of the biggest changes at golf clubs over the last 25 years is, in most cases the PGA professional no longer runs their own business from the Pro-Shop. There are a few Pro-Shops remaining and after a recent visit to one all the happy memories of being a junior spending time hanging around the Pro-Shop came back. The feel of a Pro-Shop that is run by a PGA member that has their own money invested in the business is different to a club run shop and to me feels better.
When I was a kid, I used to love hanging around the Pro-Shop picking up every club countless time’s and just talking golf with the experts, I hung around so much they gave me a job. The Head professional ran their own business out of the shop and were paid to collect greenfees make sure dress standards were followed and the tee ran smoothly. All the stock in the shop was theirs and every person who walked into the shop was a customer who may just take a lesson or buy a set of clubs. My first job was cleaning the sets of clubs that were in storage in the back of the shop after their owners played on Saturday. I had two strict instructions firstly do a good job cleaning them and secondly get to know the clubs and tell the boss or the trainee if grips were due to be changed or wood refinished.
When I started full time in the shop, I was told my most important job was starting the tenth tee where we literally stood on the tee and got the groups away on time. While starting the tee there was the usual banter and a few jokes but the real job was to get to know the member their game and their equipment. Besides the money you could make re-gripping their set it also insured they wouldn’t shop else where as the majority of people would want to avoid the “where did this come from” comment, plus why wouldn’t you buy from the person who knows your game. The head professional was always in the shop at the end of the day when the cards were being handed in because this was the time when golfers would talk about their game. “I played shit!” would always be followed up what happened and how can I help. Conversations like this usually ended up with a lesson booking or checking out the offending driver that slices all the time. Yes, undoubtedly the Pro was trying to do business but the transaction always revolved around the happiness of the customer who would remain loyal for many years. Contracted PGA members did long hours typically 60 or more per week but they had large sums of money invested in stock so it was their vested interest to be there and make it work.
Don’t get me wrong PGA members who work as Golf operations managers in salary positions do a great job and are the figure head of the club as the person who deals with all the golfers. Its just golf shops have less clubs and more shirts and skirts there is more administration being done making less time for talking golf.
My recent visit to a Contract PGA member shop was just like my old memories it was nearly dark after the midweek comp and it was action stations. He was fitting a pair of shoes while talking to the members handing their cards in through the window in this covid world. In the time I was there some 30 minutes a shoe fitting a regrip sold and done while the member got a coffee from the clubhouse, and a clubfit booked that he himself was going to do. For me the personal investment along with the expertise the PGA brings makes a huge difference to the way a whole club feels there is just more interest in golf.