Golf professionals in the clubs are generally “reduced” to working as golf instructors, which is not quite true. Although giving golf lessons is the central task of the Teaching Professionals, the training to become a certified Swiss PGA Professional is much more comprehensive and not only focused on methodology and swing technique.
Swiss PGA Professionals have a very broad knowledge of all aspects of golf. Not only individual clients but the entire club can benefit from this. On behalf of the 98 Swiss golf clubs, we asked the President of the Golf & Country Club Zurich, Robert Kessler, and the Manager of the Golfresort Leuk link, Giusy Abatemarco, about their experiences.
Creating a win-win situation
Neither in Zumikon nor in Leuk are the Pros employed by the golf club, but are self-employed – like the majority of golf professionals in Switzerland. They work on their own account, but are allowed to use the club’s infrastructure. In Zumikon, the three Teaching Pros have access to the driving range, the short game area and the putting green as well as a modern indoor facility for teaching. Free of charge – which is not the rule in Switzerland but rather the exception. However, both clubs are convinced or know from experience that this model creates a win-win situation.
Giusy Abatemarco explains why he does not charge the Teaching Pros a “mat fee”: “The golf school is part of our golf resort and a very important piece of the puzzle in the overall picture, because the golf school takes care of the training of the golfers, especially the new golfers. In this way, the Pros play a significant role in recruiting new members.” For Abatemarco, it is in a professional’s very own interest to attract new golfers to the club – especially participants of trial courses. Because new golfers book lessons on a particularly regular basis. As the operator of a golf course, it is a matter of course for Abatemarco to create an environment that gives professionals an economic perspective. “Each of our Pros gives around 1000 hours of instruction per year. Of course, we could charge 5 or 10 francs per hour, but I think that’s petty, because in 2019 these two Pros brought the club ten new members,” says the operator of the Leuk Link Golf Resort with satisfaction.
Whoever wants to become a member of the private Golf & Country Club Zurich must have at least a 36 handicap. Introductory courses and the training of new golfers – with the exception of juniors – are therefore not on the programme for the three long-standing Teaching Pros of the GCCZ. Instead, once a week they lead the training sessions of the various interclub teams and are also available for regular courses. “We consider the promotion of our active members, the young people and juniors as a great added value for the club”, explains GCCZ President Robert Kessler. The fact that the members also appreciate the work of their Pros is proven by the fact that in Zumikon the dates in the professionals’ reservation books are “fixed for weeks, if not the whole season”.
Expertise of the Pros welcome
Giusy Abatemarco is proud of his two Pros and is convinced: “The golf academy is a reputation for us.” At the same time, it’s also an indicator of whether the Links golf resort works as a whole: “If the golf school doesn’t work, the rest of the business doesn’t pay off either.” That’s one of the reasons why cooperation between the individual departments in Leuk is very close. The Pros are responsible for the design of introductory courses; the activities that follow up on introductory course participants and entice them back to the course are developed jointly by the club and the Pros. Marketing activities are then the responsibility of the club. In another area, Leuk is going “back to the roots”: Proette Fabienne Gamma took over the Pro Shop at the beginning of the season. She now also practices that part of her profession that was originally an important source of income for every club professional.
The broad expertise of the Swiss PGA Professionals is also highly valued by the respective club boards in Zurich and Leuk. And used. “The exchange of ideas between the captain or the person responsible for the course and our Pros is always very constructive and is much desired by the club”, explains Robert Kessler. “The board benefits from the opinion of the professionals when it comes to course layout and course care and maintenance.”
When it came to redesigning the practice facilities of the Links Leuk Golf Resort for this season, the two professionals were naturally involved in the decision. “They know best what their ideal working place looks like,” says Abatemarco.
Both in Leuk and in Zurich, club members are delighted to see their Pros not only during golf lessons but also in the clubhouse.