The PGA pro version 2.0
The PGA pro version 2.0
The PGA professional is a vital component of any golf club; practically speaking, retaining members requires clubs to make sure new members are socially integrated and that new players become better golfers – and pros are in a perfect position to do both. Players 1st data shows that clubs have much to gain by utilizing PGA professionals in a more socially oriented way.
How the PGA professional can make a difference
Compared to your average team sports golf may be considered a more solitary game with a certain focus on personal achievement. Coaching practices, arguably, have tended to also focus almost entirely on individual players. However, the function of the PGA professional, our data shows, ought to be evolving in a much more socially oriented way: Pros can have a significant impact on member experience and retention efforts if they become more service minded and contribute positively to club environment and community.
Studies show that social integration and becoming better golfers are the primary drivers when it comes to retaining new members, however, these need to be realized within two years of enrollment; loyalty needs to be instilled in members before the end of their first two seasons, which is when new members are most likely to abandon their club and the sport. Pros are in a unique position to influence new members on both accounts and, hopefully, break this two-year barrier.
Member Experience Study 2017
In our Member Experience Study 2017 we found that coaches with a high pro Net Promoter Score (NPS) – as estimated on a scale of 0 to 10 by their clients - provided more lessons: The top 10% of pros taught 1.74 lessons per club member on average, while the bottom 10% only provided 1.12 lessons per member. The Member Experience Study 2017 is based on more than 34,000 survey responses.
Furthermore, the top 10% of pros attracted 48% of club members, while the bottom 10% attracted about 37% of members. In short, top PGA professionals have the ability to both attract more customers and provide more lessons per player.
Player perception and the primary drivers of pro NPS
The question is: Which attributes do players value the most in their PGA professional? - or, why are some pros more desirable than others? Our data shows that players who already receive coaching tend to prioritize exciting and pedagogical teaching methods and attentive and service minded approaches, rather than the skill level of the pro - and overwhelmingly so.
These priorities also determine how many members, who are not currently making use of a pro, will eventually decide to do so. However, in this regard players also greatly appreciate when their club’s PGA professional contributes positively to the social environment of the club; he or she needs to be visible, inclusive and present within the community. In a good club environment new members are much more inclined to take advantage of training opportunities.
So, while PGA professionals, of course, need to be skilled golfers, they certainly also need to be skilled service employees. Pros who focus only on a select group of member darlings or “favorites” will, naturally, attract less rookies. New members need to feel welcome and appreciated, and pros who are sensitive to their needs and are contributing to an inclusive and friendly club community can attract and retain, as the data shows, significantly more members. In this, the skill level of the pro, price per lesson and booking availability are, to a certain degree, irrelevant.
Additionally, our data showed clear economic incentives for clubs to focus on providing great training opportunities for new members. Between the top and bottom 10% of PGA professionals, in clubs with about 800 members on average, there was a difference of 500 hours worth of lessons. At a hypothetical price of $80 per lesson, this would mean that clubs with a low pro NPS are losing just about $40,000 per year in lesson income alone, not to mention other benefits like pro shop income and a healthy boost to retention efforts.
The potential of the PGA pro v2.0
The function of the PGA professional ought to be evolving to meet the players’ needs, our data shows; indeed, it is already becoming more common for pros be integrated with club management and retention efforts. Pros who are dedicated to their club and all its members hold great potential to provide a friendly atmosphere as well as a wide array of inclusive training opportunities for members - and new players in particular.
New players are inclined to give up the game if they do not get below a handicap of 37 in a fairly short amount of time. Accordingly, some clubs have decided to provide free training lessons for players in the so-called “club 37.” Although this might sound bad for the bottom line in the short run, this is a clever way for clubs to kickstart the loyalty and retention process.
Furthermore, many clubs are effectively emulating training practices of team oriented sports by providing lessons for groups of players, regardless of skill, age or gender, who learn and play together and, consequently, are naturally and seamlessly integrated within the community. At the heart of such efforts, however, must be the socially dedicated PGA pro version 2.0. In the end, the benefits, economic and otherwise, of having PGA professionals that are more service minded and involved with their club and its members are potentially myriad.
In the current golf industry climate retention is key, and pros can have a significant impact on new members’ decision to stay or leave. However, for retention efforts to be truly effective in the years to come, this version 2.0 of the PGA professional must emerge to meet the players’ needs.