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Being a Golf Professional Anything but Playing Sport, About Relationships and Ability to Adopt

This is the first of a five-part series taking a look at the life of a golf professional and what the career entails. This article specifically takes a look at the extremely wide and varying range of responsibilities a career as a golf pro entails.  

    At its most basic level the sole responsibility of a golf professional is and has always been to provide an enjoyable experience for golfers who come to his or her facility. That experience is centered on what a golf professional does for the golfer through a personable relationship. The ever increasingly more specific and diverse types of obligations golf professionals engage in are the vehicles by which the relationships are developed.

    “We have a part in lightening the day of people who come to the course,” Rob Schwab, the golf professional at Hidden Lakes, located in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, said. “Everything we do is about building the love we have for the game in other people through personal relationships.

    “We teach people to enjoy being with nature, the golf environment, the challenge of getting the ball in the hole, competing against others and the course and testing themselves.”

    Bill Berl, the golf professional at New Smyrna Beach's Municipal Golf Course, provided a sample of the obligations he engages in on a daily basis. They are diverse and encompass a wide range of areas within the industry. On a particular day about six weeks ago, it began with a phone conversation with a newspaper advertising sales account executive. It was followed by a trip to the bank to make monetary and receipt deposits.

    He then listened to several phone messages and scheduled future appointments. Shortly afterwards he sat down and discusses the vocation of golf professional. His last obligation of the day is a meeting between two organizations who are trying to find a resolution to the problem of wanting to use the course at the same time.

    “There are so many things we do during the course of the day,” Berl said. “The basic responsibility is still the same, but, because how we do it has changed, we have a lot more things to do every day. Because the obligations required to complete the responsibility have become more specific over the last 15 to 20 years there are more of them and one isn’t more of a priority than the other.”

    On this particular day, while engaging in the obligations, he listens and watches for the golfers as they come into the facility. He quickly and with pleasure leaves his office to greet the golfers. A smile, a friendly handshake and welcoming tone in his voice are the first signs of developing a relationship with the golfer.

    There is the retiree who finally has the opportunity to pursue golf regularly. There is the young golfer who takes lessons with Berl later in the week. There is the concerned father, an avid golfer himself. There is the hard working employee in the middle of his career wanting to relax after a long day in the office or job site. There is the high school golf teams, who use the facility as their home course.

    For each of these conversations, the subject becomes how the obligations Berl is engaged in will make each individual’s experience better. And the common bond in a personal relationship is formed.

    “I was once told there is no job description, because our purpose is to make the golfers’ trip to the course enjoyable and it is different for everyone,” Berl said, “It also depends on what kind of course we work at. So our obligations are different from day to day. Later this week I will teach and send out invoices for the pro shop. “But all golf professionals are in the public eye in some way. Whether we are dealing with people involved with the business end of the industry or it is an individual who just plays the game for fun, we need to be personable and outgoing at all times.”    

    Only a couple of miles away at Hidden Lakes, Schwab is meeting with the Rotary Club about the tournament they will hold at the facility on the upcoming Saturday. When asked about his day, he explains that the perception of playing golf is only one of multiple responsibilities he takes care of during this particular day and there will be a completely different set tomorrow.

    “The biggest misconception is that we play golf all day,” Schwab said. “But our day is all about customer service and building positive personal relationships. We have to look at each person and group separately and understand how they or it works so we can individually tailor the experience.     

    "Everyone has a different personality and character. So what makes the experience just that is going to be different and that means what we need to do or take care of and how we do it is different every day. But it something we (golf professionals) truly love and what we feel we are bet suited to do." 

 

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