Larry Canning: Golf Club Professionals hear and see it all

WORKING in a Golf Club Pro-Shop is a study in socio-political, socio-behavioral, socio-pretty well everything you can whack on the end of “Socio”. I think we PGA Members all start our “Club Professional” life thinking we can make a difference to our new club and help to sustain and develop the game of golf and keep it viable for the next generation.

Along the way we often strike some hazards. Whenever I’ve argued some point to a committee man or GM my last few words (because according to my wife Sandra I need to have the last word) was always… “Please spend a week behind the counter, take the phone calls and listen to everything from the customers and members … Then make a decision”. “Or maybe just trust the fact that you have a resource of experience at your finger tips if you just ask”

I, like a staff bag full of other long time PGA Members have seen, listened, engaged with, thanked, been whinged at, sworn at, physically confronted, pleaded with and even had to deal with emotionally distraught mums or dads while representing the golf club we are engaged and committed to.  

I really don’t think it matters if we are a council owned public course or one of the most exclusive country clubs in the country. The Club Professionals (I know, it’s a prehistoric term), are the old time barman out of a Billy Joel song. We hear and see it all.

I will never stop quoting this bloody ripper of a conversation which took place at Augusta National of all places. It was on the eve of that most naive and ill-informed decisions ever to take place in our game; The banning of anchored putters. I know for some, the Tour Player component of this debate has some gray area but to deprive thousands of amateurs from being able to play in their Saturday Medal because they physically cannot play without humiliating themselves was just flat out wrong!

The discussion was between Ted Bishop, the President of the US PGA, representing 25,000 professionals who run and teach at facilities across the country. The other bloke was Chief Executive of the R&A Peter Dawson.  When Bishop made the point that the PGA of America was standing up for the “best interests of the amateur golfer,” (regarding its opposition to anchoring) Dawson fired up and according to Bishop, pointed a finger at him and said, “That’s not your role.”

So what is our role Peter? And for that matter, what is yours??

I’ve been behind the counter at golf clubs since I was skinny and I, like many of my colleagues, have seen decisions being made that still leave me scratching where my fringe used to be. We PGA Members may not know all the answers but we live and breathe the results of others decisions.  

I’ve also met some fantastic members, committee men and women, volunteers etc along the way who understand what we need to do now so as to embrace the new challenges modern society is throwing at us.

The ship might have begun to sail but before it picks any more speed can we all jump on board. After all we are all trying to steer the game into the future.

Let’s all start with bringing a new person over to your club for 9 holes. Front tees with no rules. Maybe just a hit on the nearest driving range? Before we know it, it’ll be Daylight Saving again and a quick larrup after work might connect a new victim… sorry… person to the game. Introduce them to your PGA Members.

What about everyone who reads this column, grab your phone and go through your contacts.

Just an hour will do. Every course has a way of getting back to the clubhouse after a few holes. If your contacts are in any way similar to mine you’ll need to further tempt your newbie with a beer or nice Chardie.

Let’s all start right away and talk again next month? Remember don’t push them too soon to join the club, let that happen by their choice.

See you next month my fellow seducers.

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