Planning for the Future in a Tight Market

July 12, 2010

Ryan Hart is the Director of Membership Services for Golf Business Network (GBN) in Bedminster, New Jersey. He also oversees the development and long range planning of GBN's Assistants Division. In this entry, Ryan breaks down a sensitive issue (the golf professional market) and lends us perspective on how to plan for the future.

Every Assistant Golf Professional’s goal is to acquire a Head Professional position and over the past few years this transition has become a very competitive and challenging process within the industry. Today there are many well-qualified professionals in the marketplace and with more facilities closing than opening this presents a daunting task for any Assistant to achieve this goal. GBN believes it is critical to educate our Assistant Golf Professional members on ways to separate your self from the rest of the competition and be proactive in the Head Professional search process. Here’s what you need to know now:

This process starts with your current job and the members you interact with on a daily basis. Each day you have to be in the mindset that the relationships you build and the way you carry yourself with members will pay dividends further down the road. “You have to first make sure you have a solid backing of people in your corner. The members who you interact with on a daily basis will be some of your biggest allies,” says Steve Scott, Head Professional at The Ridge at Back Brook. If a job opportunity arises, make sure to ask your members if they are affiliated with that club or know anyone who is a member. In today’s competitive job market, any connections you can develop with the club you are applying to is very important.

The process itself can be long and grueling with seemingly no end in sight. You must develop a strong resume that will generate interest from the search committee in the first two pages. Keith Stewart, Head Professional at Springdale Golf Club explained his experiences of developing an effective resume by saying, “If you are presenting your resume to a committee of business executives, lawyers, doctors, small business owners, etc; make sure you present yourself in a manner that will stand out and relate to their needs. There are so many candidates who stand out in the golf world, but how you can translate that message into the business world can make all the difference.” How you present yourself on paper is pivotal in taking the next step in the process, which is obtaining an interview. Strong recommendations from previous employers and members have a lasting effect with the search committee. For example, a hand written note from a parent whose child you’ve worked with in a junior clinic can make that difference.

Confidence and a clear mission statement outlining how you would conduct yourself and the golf operations at the facility you are applying to is important. Steve Scott explains his method for interview preparation by saying, “You always want to try and own the job and make the interviewer feel as though you have studied all of the history, traditions and nuances of the club.” Going into the interview you must dress and act the part. Nonverbal cues and eye contact are also important and are always evaluated by committee members. It’s always a nice added touch to provide the club with a detailed portfolio that showcases your skills and services.

In the end, you must be prepared and exhaust all options when applying for a Head Professional position. It is important to remember that a first time Head Professional goes to a club that fits his or her personality and skill set. Don’t let an opportunity to impress someone pass you by. You must learn all you can from each search process you go through as each will help you refine your ability to handle future opportunities. GBN’s pledge is to help you prepare for this competitive process so that you’re ready when the next opportunity arises.