Golf Operations… Contracted or Employed?

The Golf Operations or Golf Service Centre is an essential component of any successful golf facility and one that must function seamlessly to ensure all members, guests and green fee players enjoy an organised and enjoyable golfing experience.

Due to the fact that there is an option in how golf operations is structured at a club, a large percentage of facilities, from leading private clubs to regional country courses will at some stage discuss the merits of their Golf Operations being contracted or managed by the cub.

The contracted model has historically been the more traditional model, where the facility engages a competent and engaging PGA Professional as the ‘Head Professional’, with a contract in place for the chosen professional to offer services to the facility in a range of areas. These services typically incorporate the following Pro-Shop services: golf retail, golf coaching and programs, club fitting and repairs, hire equipment and various administration duties on behalf of the club including the management of the course via tee times, club competitions, events and corporate golf.

When the golf operations are managed directly by the club, the aforementioned services will be administered wholly by the club and its employees, with the only exception generally being the golf coaching and related programs, where the majority of facilities still contract a PGA Professional for effective delivery of this service.

So what is the best model for a golf club with certain criteria or objectives?

In simple terms, many factors need to be considered and analysed before a club makes a decision in relation to the structure of the facility’s golf operations.

As a starting point it is worth considering the primary benefits and challenges in relation to the two primary structures available.

Primary benefits of the contracted module for a club’s golf operations:

  • The contractor is 100% invested in the golf operations as their own business, leading to a commitment to member/customer service
  • The club’s management and board are free to focus on the strategic direction and overall operation of the facility
  • The club has a lower financial risk with club expenditure this area of operations being consistent or fixed
  • Statistics indicate length tenure with contracted Head Professionals is greater than professionals employed in Director of Golf positions

Possible challenges in relation to a contracted model for a club’s golf operations:

  • The club may have less control of the overall services offered via golf operations
  • A contractor suffering from financial pressures may be obliged to review costs, possibly leading to reduced staffing or member service
  • Lack of alignment of contractor strategies/business model with the club’s overall strategic plan – most common when there has been a major restructure of the club’s Board
  • Loss of access to a potential profit centre for the club

Primary benefits of the club managing the golf operations at a facility:

  • The facility has greater control over all aspects of the club’s operations
  • Human Resources, staff training is directly linked to the facilities policies and procedures, ensuring consistency across total facility
  • The Golf Operations could be a potential profit centre
  • Generally an easier model to enable member accounts across the entire facility

Possible challenges in relation to a club managing the golf operations at a facility:

  • The golf operations will impose a greater financial risk to the facility with stock costs along with significant staffing costs and requirements – dawn to dusk service 364 days per year
  • Has the potential to lead to a decreased performance of golf services with employed staff less motivated
  • Possible unsatisfactory remuneration for a key golf operations management staff member leads to decreased tenure. Possible increased workload for the facility’s General Manager via an additional direct report and department in an already demanding position

Of course there are many more factors which each individual facility should consider with the above just being some of the more common considerations. Every individual facility will have benefits and challenges to consider.
It is vital to ensure all factors have been considered prior to making a decision, as the golf operations of any facility and the model it operates under will have a significant impact on the overall success of the business.

If your facility is considering your golf operations model, please make contact with your local PGA State Manager for a discussion. We are only too happy to be involved and assist you through the process.

PGA of Australia State Managers

David Barker – NSW & ACT
0413 681 691

Nick Dastey – VIC/TAS/SA
0400 232 824

Broc Greenhalgh – QLD/NT
0402 021 280

Kim Felton – WA
0413 404 380

GMA Corporate Partners