Are you wondering how to achieve better employment opportunities? One major key is to broaden your skill set. To do this, start by taking advantage of PGA programs and offerings. Check for education opportunities offered by your chapter and section. The association offers both a Certified Professional Program and Master Professional Program. Besides these formal trainings, on-the-job training is an even more effective way to learn new skills. If you do not have other PGA Professionals working alongside you in the golf shop, it is up to you to commit to learn and broaden your skillset.

Once you have decided to take the step to acquire new skills, how do you decide what to learn? In my years of working with section employers, there are many skills that employers have identified as critical for those desiring to leap from Assistant Professional to Head Professional or Head Professional to General Manager. Following are three broad categories and ten skills that employers shared to be the most important.

  • The Game: PGA Professionals continue to be the gold standard for teaching and playing the game. Employers appreciate the credibility that teaching and playing brings to their facility – and the added value it provides their golfers and businesses.
  • The People: PGA Professionals have traditionally prided themselves on their ability to relate to their golfers. Developing customer relationships and learning more closely of their needs is important. These relationships are more critical and perhaps more valuable now than in the past.
  • The Business: While business skills have always been important to employers, the current business climate has necessitated a reordering and a reemphasis of them. Top competencies requested by employers are:
  1. Customer Service and Retention – Happy, satisfied customers have always been important. Now they are a financial and strategic necessity.
  2. Sales – From golf balls to memberships, this skill set is critical for success today.
  3. Marketing and Promotion – With the number of golfers remaining somewhat static, finding new, creative ways to attract new players and stimulate additional activity is a critical skill. In this new era, utilizing social media is increasingly important, as is having an effective website.
  4. Yield Management – In the past, many facilities implemented discounting to fill tee sheets. This may not be effective, especially long term. Owners desire utilization of more effective revenue or tee sheet management methods such as demand-based pricing and effective use via the internet.
  5. Budget Development and Management – Formerly, at a minimum, it was important to be able to manage a budget. Now it is critical not only to develop and manage budgets, but to also make creative corrective adjustments on a weekly and even daily basis. Managing the bottom line requires being personally accountable for the department’s performance.
  6. Staff Management – The performance of PGA managers is increasingly being judged in large part on their success in staff management. It encompasses a great many functions including recruitment, training, mentoring, supervising and evaluating. Understanding the unique differences in working with the Millennials and Generation X and Y needs to be understood.
  7. Merchandising – If $100k is going to be tied up in inventory, owners want to know that products will be strategically purchased based upon customers’ needs. From buying to display, this is a critical skill.
  8. Business Management – This includes such things as time management, organization, communication and prioritization. More than ever, it is indispensable to utilize technology from point of sale to electronic tee sheets and other emerging and productivity technologies.
  9. Food and Beverage – From cost analysis, to portion and labor control to basic management skills, this is one area that employers relay is a weakness.
  10. Agronomy – Are you knowledgeable about the different grasses on your course, the irrigation schedule, basic cultural practices and most common diseases? This is the start of understanding golf course agronomy – another skill that employers feel is not commonly developed.

It is a fact that more employers are looking to hire PGA members for a General Manager role. So how do you work into this role? Employers tell us that first, you have to have a desire to and must develop a strong working knowledge of all of the above skill sets.

How driven are you to achieve better employment opportunities?
Contact Carol Pence by calling (510) 706-1583 or via e-mail at