How Many Hats Do You Wear?

by Brian Dobak
April 26, 2010

If you think about it, it’s interesting to realize how many different areas of a golf operation there are relative to what is expected of you as not only a Head Professional, but an Assistant Professional as well. Merchandising, tournament operations, instruction, club fitting, and personnel management. Each one of them requires different skill-sets of various degrees and each one has smaller components within that require other skill-sets. Merchandising requires a different set of gears than does instruction. Tournament operations requires a different set of gears than does personnel management. It could be argued that those who possess most or all of the hats and wear those hats well, are the most successful golf professionals.

Day in and day out, golf professionals are required to wear many hats. Sometimes you have to wear a few at once, some times just one at a time. Having multiple job responsibilities—wearing different hats—is common in many jobs, especially the golf profession. With the economy the way it is, most of us do the job of at least two people. Hiring committees, therefore, want team members who are able to play more than one position.

Of equal importance, how do you handle wearing all of the hats? A few of my former bosses wore all of the hats seamlessly. They handled the responsibilities so well that they made them look easy. However there are HP’s out there that are fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants kinds of operators. They are always in panic mode and barely get by day-to-day. Members and guests are not dumb to these kinds of things. Remember that they are usually knee deep in their own fields of business and are capable of recognizing disarray when they see it at their own club. Hiring committees and members want HP’s and assistant professionals that can run their golf operation seamlessly.

Breadth of knowledge is increasingly important in a multidisciplinary occupation such as the golf profession. Full time instructors are what they are because they have a passion for teaching. Some can spend 8 to 10 hours per day on the driving range teaching, some can’t. Successful golf professionals with regard to operations, must wear all the hats and wear them well. If you feel like your interest lies in overall golf operations, then you better polish and brush up on each of the departments you’ll have to oversee. Once we’re in the HP role, we’ll be pulled in multiple directions and we must know how to juggle all of the hats we’ll have to wear. There will be members that place a high priority on tournament operations. You will have a faction of members that care deeply about the junior program for their children. There will be a group of members that want a well-merchandised golf shop where they know they can go to fulfill all of their golfing needs, and sometimes even lifestyle needs.

To leave you with a quote, Bud Taylor, PGA Master Professional and Head Professional at Old Palm Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida lends great insight into the very essence of the importance of wearing all the hats well. “If you have a broad range of skill sets, to accomplish a variety of tasks, you make yourself more valuable in the eyes of your current employer and you become a more qualified prospect for greater employment opportunities. Revenue management, marketing, sales, finance, operations, internal controls, golf course maintenance, teaching and food & beverage are all areas I would gain experience in. Being an expert of each is not required, however a good working understanding of each would be a tremendous asset.”

How many hats do you wear?