"The First 90 Days" by North Shore CC's Michael Shank

by Brian Dobak
January 17, 2011

It seems like it was just yesterday. After two unsuccessful interviews and applying for ten HP jobs, Michael Shank had his best chance yet at a top club. After four interviews (two with the selection committee, and two playing lessons with foursomes) Michael had finally broke through.

Fast forward to today: Michael Shank is now just a few years into his first Head Golf Professional position at North Shore Country Club in Glen Head, New York, home of a Top-100 course designed by legendary architects Seth Raynor and Charles Blair MacDonald. Exclusive for PIFG and it's readers, Michael gives us a great account of what it takes to get off on the right foot as a new Head Professional.

If you have just secured a Head Golf Professional position, congratulations! In today’s market, securing a Head Professional position can be very challenging, with many talented candidates applying for a limited number of spots. Once this hurdle is cleared, you must prove to the Selection Committee and entire club membership that their faith in you was justified. To that end, you must excel in several critical areas:

Establish Goals

Before taking on the job, you must clearly establish goals for each area of the operation. These should be well thought out before the interview process begins, but now it is time to get specific and implement strategies towards accomplishing these goals. Make certain your goals are consistent with what the membership desires.

Hire Your Team

One of the most important components of first season success is the team you build around you. Deciding whether to keep existing staff in place or start from scratch depends largely on the circumstances of the position. Determining how the membership feels about staff members and what they are looking for going forward will steer this decision. Getting the right team members in place, and clearly expressing your expectations and goals to them will go a long way towards a great first season.

Meet and Engage the Membership

Getting to know each and every one of your new members is a top priority. No matter the club type, service is always the bottom line. Obviously you need to know everyone’s name, but finding out about their golf game or how many grandchildren they have can be just as important. To provide the best service, you need to understand who your members are.


It is easy to be overwhelmed with the number of tasks in front of you, so staying organized is crucial. Create to-do lists for all of the categories and tasks to be addressed: golf committee and tournament calendar, open-to-buy for the golf shop, instructional programs to be implemented, junior golf camps, etc. Be sure to delegate responsibility to your team, and make clear which areas each assistant are accountable for.


Stay in constant communication with your staff and the membership to get feedback on what you are doing. Being on top of any potential issues quickly will help diffuse them and make certain everyone is happy.

The first season as Head Professional can be an enjoyable time. If you can get off to a good start, hopefully you can enjoy a good relationship for years to come.