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Business Lessons Learned From Being a Golf Professional

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 2:35 PM

If you’ve followed my blogs for a while, then you probably know that in my pre-custom install life, I was a golf professional. This meant that I worked at a golf course, managed the golf shop, ran tournaments, gave lessons, etc. This differs from being a professional golfer, which is the people you see playing on TV. (My game was good – my handicap got down to a .5 – but those guys are spectacularly, unbelievably great and TV golf was never in the cards for me.)


I started my golf career at a course in the pinprick-on-the-map-small city of Rutherfordton, North Carolina. There would be many days when less than 10 people would play. (The course was built on an old plantation, and the golf shop was literally inside the old slave’s quarters.) From there I moved to a really busy public course in Berkeley, California where it wasn’t unusual to have over 300 rounds daily and the three phone lines would ring for two hours straight on Saturday mornings. From there I finished at a very private club in Orinda, California where the initiation fee was over 6-figures and had a 10 year waiting list and the number of rounds played was irrelevant compared to providing each member with the best experience.


Throughout my eight years in the golf business, I learned a few things that have helped me to be successful as a custom installer. Here’s 10 of them!


1: The details matter
Whether it is putting pencils on the carts, the way the balls were stacked on the range, all the shirts being folded properly in the shop or hand cleaning member’s and guest’s clubs and putting them away, every little detail added up to the overall experience. Before big events, I would use my best calligraphy stroke to hand write player names on signs for each cart, or draw maps leading to starting holes. People would grab handfuls of our club’s heavily varnished, logo’d tees because they were known to be almost impossible to break. Details absolutely matter in our industry as well. Things like properly finished wall plates, dressed and labeled wiring, thoroughly tested programming… It’s often attention to these small details that makes the best firms stand out in the long run.


2: Everyone is your boss
At the private club, every member was technically my boss. While they couldn’t specifically fire me, they could certainly have me fired. They could also ask me to do something and in most cases I would be expected to do it. As such, everyone needed to be given the same top-level service. Sometimes it can be easy to focus on the big jobs and the clients that are spending the most, and while they certainly deserve extra-special attention, if you think about each and every client as your boss, your level of customer service will likely step up a notch. And in our business, these bosses can literally “fire” us in their ability to never do business with us again and to tell others to stay away as well.


3: Persevere until you finish
Part of becoming a golf professional is passing a playing ability test (PAT) to prove that you have the golfing skills needed to be a pro. The PAT involves playing 36-holes in a day and shooting a target score, usually around 150-155 depending on the course’s rating. The PAT was an equal opportunity challenge; everyone could pass and everyone could fail. All that mattered was each person’s individual score at the end of the 36-holes. I was not a naturally great player and the PAT was tough for me. I missed it by 1 twice, including a 4-foot putt on the 36th hole that burned the right edge of the cup. Missed it by 2 twice. Missed it by 3 several times. I finally passed on my ninth time, shooting a 75 and 73. This taught me that if I really put my mind to it, I could work hard enough to accomplish a goal. On a long project, this perseverance is needed to make sure you follow through.


4: Short and straight beats long and lost
I can’t tell you how many times I’d see an older player step up to the tee and poke out a nice, straight ball about 150-yards down the center of the fairway to be followed by some young, strong player that blasts a ball 300-yards long that hooks or slices out into the woods.

Please keep reading the rest of my lessons learned at Residential Systems!

Categories: January 2014, CTA

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