The Critical Nature of a Policies & Procedures Manual

by Brian Dobak
March 28, 2011

One thing that every golf professional should know is that in order for your employees to follow the rules they have to know what those rules are. But for some, just the thought of having to put together a handbook on what is acceptable and what is not in your golf operation can seem overwhelming. Additionally, some professionals dread the thought of being bound to more rules when they are already bound to so many others outside of work. So in these cases what some do is simply rely on word of mouth and hope their employees figure out the rules down the grapevine. Well, the grapevine is not good business practice.

We often hear Tour players explain what happens when they hit a bad stretch during a round, they “revert back to their fundamentals”, and often it works. When a club and its golf operation are going through a time of change (economic downturn, staff downsizing or changeover, etc.), there is no better place to revert to than the fundamentals of the operation – policies and procedures manuals. They are the backbone of the operation. No backbone equals no structure or operational alignment.

With all of this said, it always surprises me how many golf operations don't have a policies and procedures manual, or have one but it is severely outdated and neglected. Policies and procedures are the "rules of engagement" of your operation. The staff and their adherence is where accountability ends, but the manual is where accountability begins.

What are Policies and Procedures?

Policies and Procedures are the strategic link between the club or golf operations vision and its day-to-day operations. But why is that so important? It's because well written policies and procedures allow employees to understand their roles and responsibilities within predefined limits. Basically, policies and procedures allow management to guide operations without constant intervention.

Does Facility Size Matter?

Size matters. The larger the club or resort, the more emphasis that needs to be put on policies and procedure manuals and other related informational handbooks, however they are no less important for the smaller golf operations.

What happens is that the larger the golf operation is, the larger the departments become. Thus for the larger operations, more employees are needed in the outside services department, more starters and rangers are needed, more retail staff is needed, and more assistant golf professionals are necessary.

Quite simply, the more people that are involved in the operation, the more emphasis that is needed on policies, procedures, and informational resources to keep everything tight and well-oiled. When there are so many questions floating around from different angles, we have to go somewhere for the answers in a timely manner. That “somewhere” is the source, and the “source” is the manual.

Staff Growth

The presence and use of a policies and procedures manual gives staff the opportunity to learn. Experience in the development, maintenance, and evolution of a policies and procedures manual is critical to the growth of assistant professionals as they are looking to become a Head Professional. How can you appropriately execute the role of a Head Golf Professional if you have never created or dealt with in some form, a policies and procedures manual?

Often assistant professionals will have opportunities to revamp, update, or create from scratch informational employee handbooks and policies and procedures manuals for their golf operation. At first it can seem like a daunting task to take on. But with direction from a Head Professional that SHOULD have experience in the development of one, the task should be executable and a great way for the assistant professional to add another attractive piece to his/her resume.


If none of this has hit home with you, then perhaps this will: A policies and procedures manual protects the staff, especially the Head Professional. For example: As the Head Professional of XYZ Golf Club, you have generally done a fantastic job. But what if something were to go wrong? We're not perfect. What if a few of your decisions and a couple bad days have attracted the curiosity of your clubs Board of Directors? During the meeting, they are questioning some of your practices and how you operate certain areas of the golf operation. During this meeting, they ask you to provide to them your operations policies and procedures manual to ensure that formal systems are in place and what happened was not the result of poor management but rather the result of a coincidental accident.

Do you have one? If you don't have one to provide them, then you are in trouble. A policies & procedures manual can protect you and your staff. The manual is insurance to both parties that systems are in place and good management practices are being conducted.

Hopefully this article has given you some perspective on  the critical nature of a policies and procedures manual. If you already have one and it's updated, then take comfort in knowing that you are prepared and all of your bases are covered. If you don't have one, then you need to think about developing one. This article should give you enough reasons to take measures and start building it for your staff and your operation.