How Search Committees Choose Their HP's

July 5, 2010

Since 2004, Bob Mulcahy and his staff at Golf Business Network have worked tirelessly to provide quantifiable and intangible guidance and support to over 1,000 golf professionals across the United States.  The company has also expanded its mission to include career development services for Assistant Professionals who aspire to become Head Golf Professionals.  In the following entry, Bob Mulcahy utilizes his extensive experience in working with selection committees to discuss a topic of great importance to Assistant Professionals: How search committees choose their Head Professionals.   

In order to reach your career goals you will need to successfully convince a Selection Committee that you are the right person to lead the golf operation at their club. As you are aware, this takes diligent preparation on your part and probably in some ways you never realized. First and foremost as background, when GBN works with a club there are two important elements that we continually stress to the Selection Committee, which are:
  • Keep an open mind and be objective in forming opinions on each candidate.
  • Remember that the decision should be based on what is in the best interest of the entire membership and club. If every Selection Committee followed these ideals the process would be a better one. Unfortunately, each committee member tends to have their own bias and usually a constituency they are listening to for information and guidance. With that being said, your first steps in preparing to meet with the Selection Committee are the following: 
  1. Conduct research to find out the make-up of the Selection Committee. Ascertain what position they hold at the club. Each member of the committee will have their own agenda and you need to uncover their hot topics. 
  2. Do homework on the different activity levels at the club. For example, an active tournament program with a high level of rounds has different needs than a club that has very few events and a low number of rounds. 
  3. Ask if they have developed a profile of the qualities they believe are important for the next Golf Professional. If a formal profile has not been developed try to gather additional information that will provide insight for the interview.
Frequently I am asked about the materials appropriate for an interview. If a formal agenda has not been developed then there is not really a correct answer. The rule of thumb should be utilizing materials that you are comfortable in delivering. Pictures can be very worthwhile and illustrate to the committee members what your golf program would look like.

All of this leads us to the moment of truth, the interview. While every Selection Committee is unique, there do seem to be some similar truths about what the Selection Committee would like to see before settling on a candidate. They want to feel good about the person. Believe it or not this usually happens in the first two minutes of the interview. This is why your opening comments are so important.

They want someone who demonstrates passion and has a vision. The worst response to a question is that “I will do whatever the leadership of the club dictates.” While this may be accurate it is not what they want to hear in the interview. People want to hear about areas that interest them so each response given needs to be delivered with high energy. For example, if a member of the committee is a golf instruction fanatic then he will be focused on that part of your interview. Even if golf instruction is not a big passion for you, that person must be convinced that you can deliver a program that satisfies their needs.

In conclusion, to succeed in the interview process you need to prepare just like you would prepare to play in a major golf event.  Here are a few other additional tips in becoming attaining that highly sought-after Head Professional position:

Tips for Becoming “The Chosen One”
  1. Prepare an outline for your opening remarks that defines the highlights of your work experience and illustrates why you are qualified to lead their operation.
  2.  Practice your opening remarks in private to create a high comfort level, then deliver in front of a mirror and/or video, and lastly practice “live” in front of an audience.
  3. Cultivate and continually update a list of people that you have met from other clubs around the country and how you met them. This will be invaluable when conducting research for clubs in other areas with openings.
  4. Keep a positive attitude. The process can be difficult, but with the proper diligence you will succeed.
  5. Call others who have succeeded and ask questions.