How Do You Know You're "Ready" For an HP Job?

by Brian Dobak
February 15, 2010

As assistant golf professionals, we grind and grind, waiting for that moment when we're “ready” for our first Head Professional position. How do you know you’re ready in the first place? Does somebody tell you you’re ready? Do you stand in line and wait your turn? When you’re an assistant golf professional (regardless of whether you’re a first or lead assistant), the jump to being a head golf professional is probably a difficult one. You have been stuck in this bubble of containment as an assistant and you wait and wait for your shot at being the HP. Then before you know it, you are suddenly thrust into the position to play a role that you have never played before. Your accountability sky rockets and everything inside and outside of that golf shop begins and ends with you. How do you know when you’re ready for this? A very prominent Head Golf Professional once told me that when he was an assistant golf professional interested in making the jump, he didn’t know if he was ready. It wasn’t until he was recommended by a member for a HP job, that he figured, "If someone else thinks I am ready, then I must be ready".

There are probably different angles one can look at it. I am not convinced that an assistant can be READY for the role of an HP and all that comes with it. However I do believe that a seasoned assistant can be PREPARED for the jump. The experiences you have had during your tenures at varying facilities, I believe are what will prepare you for the jump. I couldn't help but think, of all of the experiences I have had, if I am not prepared now, then when will I be? It’s the commitment to make the jump that is the hard part. It seems to be inevitable, your mind will tell you that you aren’t ready, but when you feel like you’re prepared and fully equipped with experiences to draw upon, the best thing to do is go against those thoughts and commit to the search. Follow a feeling further than a thought and let your experiences speak for themselves.

A few things to think about when pondering your preparedness:

1.) In your experiences, have you "touched" everything in a golf operation? Have you been responsible for a ladies association, a men's association, a junior program, the guts of a merchandising operation, club tournament operations, outside event operations, junior and adult instruction, administrative duties such as scheduling, interviewing, hiring, training, policies/procedure manual development and adherence, tournament, merchandising, and golf operations budget experience, a caddie program, I could keep going but you get my point. If you have a solid foundation of experience in all facets of a golf operation, you may be prepared for a HP job.

2.) Sit down and ask yourself, "How comfortable and confident am I in my experiences and my ability as a golf professional?" Because hiring committees want a comfortable and confident golf professional that knows what he/she is doing. As a head golf professional, you will be the leader, and a leader should be comfortable with the role he plays and he/she must exude a confidence that other people will follow. Do you have this comfort and confidence? If you don’t, you may want to give it some time before you make the jump, to develop this swagger.

3.) Truthfully evaluate your ability to serve others. Do you have a passion for serving others? Because that is the essence of your job. When you walk into work, your customers, members, and guests are the priority, are you comfortable with that? Not only will you be serving them, but you will be serving your employees and colleagues throughout the club operation. Time and time again, they will need your help. Are you comfortable with being relied upon by many others?

4.) Who have you worked for? In your experiences have you had a good mix of superiors? The reality of the situation is that there are great bosses and there are bad bosses. You learn many important lessons from both of them. It is said that sometimes, the best things you can learn are about what not to do. As unfavorable as those bosses are, you most definitely can learn a thing or two from them. Have you had a great boss? Great bosses can be the example by which you model yourself. Obviously, you don’t want to actually seek out a job in which the golf operation is led by a poor leader, but if you do find yourself in a position like that, look at the positives and consider all that can be learned.

At the end of the day, the green light that will indicate to you your preparedness will be the feeling you get inside. With each and every experience, you will develop new layers of confidence, and with that confidence, you will be inching closer and closer to being prepared for that Head Professional job.