“Why hire a PGA professional?” We have heard this often in the past years. Or, “how much of a difference can a PGA professional make to our operation?” In this article, I will endeavor to go beyond proving the value of a PGA professional. I believe hiring or allowing the right PGA professional to operate a facility will pay dividends quickly, drive long term and short-term facility health and drive revenues to the bottom line. As I highlight three of the best “business renovations” of the 2018 season, I hope to bring attention to the “renovation impact” of having the right PGA professional in place. Note: this is not about a building or course renovation. Instead, let’s view these as a renovation of a club or facility’s operation, their focus and similar, which results in a much healthier bottom line.

When I say, “the right PGA professional in place,” I mean it. Not every PGA professional is going to be a fit at every facility, or in every situation. The right fit will produce better results, better outcomes and result in a better job. This is the yard-stick I believe we should be measuring by. Is the job better now because they hired THAT SPECIFIC PGA professional? Is the position better (higher compensation, more authority and stability, etc.) after the PGA professional moves on from the position?

In setting up each of these SOAR stories (click here to learn more about SOAR Stories) of success in “business renovations,” there are certainly some threads of continuity in them. In all three cases, the following is apparent:

  1. The facility had a top-line of revenues that was not maximized, and;
  2. A bottom line that was severely impacted by issues of waste, lack of business controls, lack of day-to-day leadership, employee turnover, poor hiring practices, low morale, etc.
  3. The facility was a “non-PGA facility” (having never employed a PGA professional, or not for 5+ years)
  4. The employer couldn’t pay “top dollar” per se for a PGA professional (because of items 1 & 2 above)
  5. Most PGA professionals didn’t see the opportunity as “a really good one.”
  6. Each of these PGA professionals not only saw the opportunity, but saw the challenges or threats with a “what if mindset.” (What if I could “flip these threats into an opportunity?”)
  7. All three professionals see their “renovation” as a multi-year project. They fought and won the early battles, carefully choosing which to fight, so they could earn trust/respect by their employer. In their 2nd season, their 3rd and beyond, I look forward to seeing what they will accomplish in partnership with their employer and the golf community they are leading.

Flipping the Threats into Opportunity, and a Winning “Business Renovation”

Let’s share their SOAR Stories:

PGA PROFESSIONAL: BRUCE PERISHO, PGA OROVILLE GOLF CLUB | OROVILLE, WA

[Semi-Private Category]

SITUATION Oroville GC (OGC) opened in 1959 and hadn’t had a PGA professional for nearly 50 years. Perisho started in Jan 2018. Some of leadership didn’t want a PGA professional there and actively campaigned against it. The facility is in a rural setting, and heavily relies on tourist traffic during the summer months.
OBSTACLES In Bruce’s first season, very significant flooding from snow melt was a real problem in May.  Many tourists were unable to travel to the area; ironically at this same time, the flooding did damage to OGC’s irrigation system causing water issues even though there was flooding. In August, fires and related smoke caused significant disruptions in tourism, so much so that local hotels and occupancy numbers were devastated.
ACTIONS Instead of sulking over the bad luck in May, and then in August, Perisho went to work to build, promote and execute creative events (like Nine & Dine Couples events), adding a set of forward tees. Perisho leveraged relationships to acquire a much-needed power leaf rake machine that allowed the golf course to be much more playable later into the season.
RESULTS Bruce’s actions, leadership and salesmanship were evident as he minimized the damage done to traffic/rounds numbers in May and August. Compared with prior years, OGC was flat in revenue for May and August, when there should have been a huge loss. Further, in June, July and September, OGC enjoyed revenues that were nearly double prior year for the same months.
PGA PROFESSIONAL: DAN HARRINGTON, PGA GLEN ACRES GOLF & CC | BURIEN, WA

[Private Club Category]

SITUATION After nearly 8 seasons without a PGA professional, Glen Acres (GA) was at a low point. Memberships were way down, the course conditioning was down, course maintenance equipment was in bad shape and so was morale overall.
OBSTACLES Funding to make improvements didn’t seem to be available. No one was available to really sell the Club’s memberships, or to activate and retain members, and recruit new ones; no one was available to sell group events, maximize tee sheet usage, drive new revenues and plan strategically for the Club.
ACTIONS In Dec 2017, GA’s Club leadership hired Dan to overcome the obstacles. Dan reinvigorated the entire membership program and drove new member spend through activation, engagement and newly recruited members. Dan was also integral to finding and hiring a new course superintendent, who’s done an incredible job of reconditioning the course, getting more out of the equipment, etc. Overall, members are very happy and excited about 2019 and beyond.
RESULTS In the first six months of the Club’s fiscal year (started May 1) Dan’s efforts netted Glen Acres an additional $90k in new revenues. This doesn’t include additional F&B member spend, merchandise sales and rentals. By mid-Nov 2018, the change in the club was very real, to the point that Dan and the GA staff had surpassed the entire FY18-19 in the first 6.5 months. Wow. The current club president recently said, “This is the healthiest we’ve been in 8 years.”
PGA PROFESSIONAL: CRAIG MOORE, PGA ALLENMORE GC | TACOMA, WA

[Public Category]

SITUATION Without a solid, experienced golf manager and operator on site, there were significant issues with management, inventory maintenance, etc. There was significant lost revenue as events were scheduled, priced, etc. in ineffective, non-bottom line focused ways. Employee turnover was significant, communication with pass holders, Elks members, etc. was not productive and often opportunities were missed.
OBSTACLES Craig started around mid-June 2018, and as one could imagine, the first 5-6 weeks were very challenging. As he sought to change culture, develop and apply policies and create/build needed structure, he lost several employees who seemed not to like his changes. Loss of several employees was hard, but in the end, it was a good thing.
ACTIONS Craig had to endure the loss of these employees until he could recruit and hire employees who would buy into his “guest first” vision. Moore gutted out these tough weeks, developed the policies for the entire golf operation that would maximize the profitability of AGC while protecting each asset of the Club. He also started to plan events better, maximizing the tee sheet, and was able to recruit younger professionals who would support and execute this improved operational vision.
RESULTS Craig’s impact was startling. He was able to reduce loss from $250k loss in FYE’17, to likely only $30k loss in FYE’18 — and he only was on the job for 2nd quarter of the fiscal year and beyond; Moore saw near doubling of golf department income each month from June, July, Aug and Sept over previous years. In August ’17, Allenmore’s net income was $45k. In August ’18, the net income was $95k.

For 2019, can I challenge you to ask “what ifs” of your own, and within your own career radius?

  • What if – you can start to see opportunities that you’ve not seen before?
  • What if – you can work hard on your viewpoint, so that you see abundance and opportunity in situations?
    • The reality: many in golf don’t “see the low hanging fruit” or the fruit that is within reach on a ladder. Why? Maybe they’ll fail (and fall off the ladder.) Bruce, Dan and Craig saw each of their situations with clarity – they saw the threats and challenges, but they also saw the abundance in the challenges. What if I could…what if you could?
  • What if – you could uncover your strengths and find an opportunity where you use them every day and flourish?
  • What if – you could become a better leader, manager and employer so you can attract and retain the best people and not have debilitating employee turnover?
  • What if – you could discover more fully, your “professional why” for being a PGA professional? And then focus that “why” in doing what will inspire you and naturally inspire, motivate and engage others (like customers, golfers, members) to follow you?
    • To be successful, a typical private club need 500 members who “get it” and pay dues, support their club.
    • Similarly, a typical public facility needs about 3000 golfers who “get it” and are loyal (playing 7-12 rounds/season) at that golf course.
    • A single golf professional, who sees themselves as a golf coach (and seeks to build deeper relationships vs a series of lessons/dates) only needs 40-80 clients who “get it” and are willing to buy into a “monthly relationship” with them.
  • What if – you could take your why and make it work for the situation you’re in? How? Make it work for the demand decision of the target customer, member or client you are seeking. That’s how.

As you can imagine, I have been inspired by so many of the PGA professionals in our Section this year. I’ve seen the three highlighted here, but I’ve also seen others launch and/or grow their own “player development businesses.” I’ve seen others leave the “name facility” and go to another one, resulting in huge success and very happy employers (who’ve told me about it.)

Now is the time to ask your “what ifs.” Don’t put it off, for your sake and the sake of your facility. If you’d like to get together with me to consider these “what if” questions, I’m in. When can we can make it happen? I appreciate the opportunity to help you (or those you lead) with your career and I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to partner with you on it soon.

Click here for Career Planning and Coaching with me…

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional/Player Development | Career Consultant
PGA Career Services | PGA of America
Serving PGA professionals, employers in the Pacific NW & Rocky Mountain PGA Sections
Email: Mkoch@pgahq.com Cell: 206/335-5260