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What Makes a Great Golf Club Professional

By: | Fri 01 Mar 2024

Club professionals are a much-maligned species in some circles. But it should be a good career choice. Not every good golfer has it in them to make a living on tour, which is why others end up working at golf clubs. But having accepted that they are not good enough to win The Open, there is still a good living to be made if you have the right attitude.

A club pro can make or break a golf club because, at most clubs, he or she is the first and, in some cases, only point of contact.

So what makes a good club pro?


When you turn up at a club as a visitor and walk into the pro’s shop, a good professional or assistant will greet you with a smile and make you feel welcome. Yes, they will take your money but they should also ask if it is the first time you have played the course. And if it is they should talk you through the hazards you should be looking out for, tell you how long it should take to complete 18 holes, tell you which are the easiest holes and which are the trickiest.

A bad pro can tarnish your experience and put you off ever returning to a golf club.

I once visited a course in Ipswich and went into the shop wearing shorts and ankle-length socks. 

The following exchange took place:

“You can’t go out there wearing those,” he snorted. He was referring to my socks.

“Why not?” I asked.

"Because we have a club rule that says you have to wear knee-length socks.”

“I don’t have knee-length socks.”

“I can sell you some.”

If I wanted to play his course it was pretty obvious I was going to have to buy a pair of knee-length socks, despite the fact that it was 80F, so I agreed. I lived five minutes away but, like most of the adult population of this country, I did not possess a pair of knee-length socks!

“Do you have anything to hold them up?” I asked.

“No,’ he grunted.

“Well that means that by the time I get to the first tee, my knee-length socks will be down around my ankles.”

“I know, But it’s the rules.”

And, of course, they were around my ankles before I had even walked out of the shop.

There is more…

Unbelievably, I returned to this course some weeks later. This time I was suitably attired but when I went into the shop to pay my green fee (my overpriced green fee) I was still wearing my everyday shoes.

“What’s that you’ve got on your feet?” he asked.

“My shoes,” I replied.

“You can’t play in those.”

“Yes, I know that. I am going to go back to the car, change into my golf shoes and then go and play.”

“I want to see you back in here wearing your golf shoes before you go anywhere near the course. And you can’t use the clubhouse to change your shoes because you are not a member.”

I never returned to that course.


Every club pro worth his salt should see the junior section as a top priority. They should be happy to give free or reduced price lessons to under-16s. I spent some time in Australia last year and played at a course called Secret Harbour. When we turned up on the Saturday the pro was teaching a group of children. All we could hear was laughter. He was 100% engaged with them and he went out of his way to make the group lesson fun. And golf should be fun.

The pro should also be visiting schools and giving lessons, doing everything he can to spread the word. Or, at the very least, get his assistant out there.


For too long, women and girls have been treated like second-class citizens by many golf clubs. Imagine if the club pro announced he was arranging women-only tuition.

Golf Club Professionals


It stands to reason that a club pro is not going to be able to compete with the big retailers when it comes to the price of golf equipment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask if they are prepared to knock a few quid off the price. And my ideal pro will offer advice and guidance. Regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of custom fitting and this is an area where your club pro can score big-time. If you are considering spending a small fortune on new equipment there is no way that he or she should be prepared to take your cash without first ensuring that the clubs are right for you. A good club pro will insist of giving you a fitting session - and will not charge you for doing so.


Rather than trying to sell clubs taken as a trade-in, a good club pro will seek out the person who runs the junior section and donate them.


Some club professionals just have a bad attitude. Perhaps it is because they were never good enough to make in on tour. Maybe it is because, during the summer, they have to work long hours. It may even be because the nature of the job means that they get little or no time to play golf themselves. 

If it is any of the above then I humbly suggest that they go and get another job.

As I wrote earlier, the club pro is the face of the golf club. If you are met by a warm individual who treats you as you would treat others you will remember that. You might even give them a mention on social media that they will want to read!


Not everybody can teach but a club pro who is a good teacher is worth his or her weight in gold. And if you book a series of lessons a couple of things should happen: 1) if you book, say, six lessons, you should only be charged for five (you will tell other people so he will get more customers); 2) you should listen to what he or she says; 3) you should go away and practice what he or she has told you; 4) you should improve. If, after a series of lessons, you have done everything you have told and there is still no sign of improvement it means that maybe that person is not the teacher for you - or that perhaps it is time to find another sport.

If you have had lessons it will also help when the time comes to change equipment because he will know your game. And he should regularly check in with you and ask how you are getting on. If there is still an aspect of the game you are struggling with he should offer to take another look.


He or she will know your name. When you pop into the shop for whatever reason they should want to engage you in conversation, ask you how your game is, whether you have had that hip or knee replacement yet - or whether you have ever managed to score anything better than an eight at the par-five 13th!


Your club pro will know the local scene inside out. If you are toying with the idea of visiting other courses in the area ask the pro which one he recommends. He may even make a call for you and get you a better rate.

A Friend to The Seniors

Like it or not (and many people don’t), but the senior section is the lifeblood of any golf club and a decent pro will go out of his way to get to know all the seniors by their first name. It is not a difficult task because they are always in the shop moaning about something or other. The trick is for the pro to be able to come up with a quip that will seem them heading to the first tee with a smile on their faces.

A Word of Advice

He or she will ask if you have a pitchmark repairer without making you feel like a wanted criminal. It’s just a gentle reminder, and they will happily provide you with one.

Open Days

The club pro should be at heart of open days and competitions. He or she should be the person who greets golfers as they turn up, who welcomes them to the course. He should also be at the prize-giving, playing an active part and offering lessons as part of the prize package.

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Secret Club Pro Reveals Best & Worst of The Job

Who is The Face of Your Golf Club

10 Ways a Golf Coach Will Improve Your Game & Lower Your Handicap

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