Dear Fellow PGA Professionals,
I hope this letter finds you and your families well and enjoying the intense heat we have been experiencing over the last couple of months. We haven’t had anyone go down here at the club, but there have been a few times that I felt it was inevitable.
I believe everyone gets into the business for a myriad of different reasons. Some like to play, some like to teach, some like to merchandise, some like to run events, and others simply like to work. In my opinion, these are all valid reasons and play important roles in being successful as a golf professional. However, I truly feel as if our two most important roles are fairly simple…….taking care of our members/customers and their guests to the best of our ability and mentoring/training our staffs and providing them with the necessary resources to be successful.
That adage of the Turtle on the Fencepost is very true as there is no doubt, we have all had help getting to where we are today. I could not have been more fortunate to have had 3 fantastic mentors that helped pave the way for me to try and be successful. I feel it is my duty to give back and do everything in my power to help my Assistants and other staff members attain their goals and chase their dreams, no matter what they might be.
First and foremost, we must build a fun and unique culture that our staffs enjoying being in. We all are available for our members and guests many hours per week, and I can’t fathom being in a situation where work is not fun and enjoyed by everyone. If the environment you create is hostile, tense, or full of stress, your staff will feel that and will get burnt out quickly. Our Assistant Professionals need to be fresh and always energized while at work. It is pretty easy to tell when someone is exhausted and a lot of times exhaustion morphs into being irritable which is easily felt by other staff members…..and also our members/customers and their guests. Remember, in the grand scheme of things our jobs aren’t that important, we aren’t saving anyone’s life and we aren’t investing anyone’s money, but there is nothing more important than the experience we create and how we treat people. You can’t do that very well when you are exhausted. The days of working our teams 6 days should be over. Our Assistant Professionals work 5 days a week, and one of those days is a “Play Day” with our membership. On this day, they simply come in and open the golf shop with me and are out playing with the membership by 11am. We didn’t get into this business because we don’t like to play, and it is good for the staff but might be even better for our members/customers as they love to play with their “Professional Staff.”
After you foster an environment that is enjoyable to be in, it is time to turn the operation over to your staff….and let them grow, learn, succeed, and fail. Sometimes delegating is the hardest thing to do, as you probably will feel as if you are losing control, but it is quite the opposite if you want your staff to grow, be successful, and move on. The majority of our Assistant Professionals don’t get in this business to be Career Assistants. They want to be empowered and have complete autonomy in their roles. This will only help them once it is time for them to get their own jobs. And to me, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BETTER THAN SEEING YOUR STAFF GROW AND REACH THE GOALS THAT YOU HAVE SET TOGETHER AND THAT THEY HAVE SET FOR THEMSELVES. We have to continue to build on their strengths but allow their weaknesses to become strengths. For example, if someone is anxious or nervous about public speaking, make them speak in front of smaller groups to start, and then allow them to grow to where the speak confidently in front of your Men’s Member/Member. If you don’t put them in that arena, they will never get better and will continue to struggle. It is vital for their growth to involve them and let them run everything, from the Day-to-Day Operation (Service Levels and Daily Flow), to Scheduling both the Inside and Outside Staff, to your Major Tournaments, to Inventory Selection and Controls, to Budgeting for Payroll and Expenses, to Teaching, and to Mentoring younger staff members. The worst thing we can do to our staff members is not provide them with the necessary training and guidance to be successful. When your staff goes through an interview process, they have to know that they are the Golf Expert in that Board Room and have complete confidence that they can do everything…..and do it extremely well. If they don’t feel that way, it is our fault as mentors and I don’t want that on my conscience…..DO YOU?
We are at a new time in golf. We are busier than we have ever been, which is great for most of us as it provides job security and potential financial growth. However, we have to challenge ourselves to be better and different than the other professionals…..not only locally or throughout the state, but also nationally. When you go to other clubs/facilities, are you just going there to play, or are you observing their operations? What are they doing well, what are they not doing, why are we not doing that? It is simply about effort. The days of the Golf Professional Staff being in the Golf Shop and standing behind the desk taking money and answering the phone are over. If you need someone to fill that role, hire an hourly employee to do those tasks as that is a waste of time for most Golf Professionals. Our members/customers and guests want us out with them on the 1st Tee, at The Practice Facility, on the Golf Course, and even at the Bag Drop. There is nothing better than being out and about and having a huge impact on someone’s experience. It is kind of hard to make an impression if you never see your players throughout the day. And I will leave you with this, you truly never know who your next boss might be, who might be sitting as the Golf Chairman at a position you are applying for, or who might be able to help influence your next opportunity. Exceed expectations and anticipate the intentions of your members and guests and always strive for perfection……while understanding that perfection is unattainable.
Hoping To See You Soon,
Head Golf Professional
Atlanta Country Club
500 Atlanta Country Club Drive
Marietta, GA. 30067