September 28, 2020

Jason Prendergast: Engage Members on Your Practice Range

Jason Prendergast, the 2009, 2014, 2018 & 2019 Gulf States PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities, is the PGA Head Professional at Country Club of Jackson (Mississippi).

Jason Prendergast on the importance of engaging members on your practice range:

Being visible to members is important to their private club experience. Everyone wants to see their golf pro, whether to ask questions, get tips, or simply chat about the game. One program I adopted from fellow PGA member, Steve Archer, of Capital City Club, in Atlanta, is known as “supervised practice”. Once or twice per week, during busy times on the range, when members are practicing and working on their game, a member of our golf professional team will walk the range, engaging members and actually ask them what they’re working on, offering 5, 10, even 15-minute consultations on the spot. These members may already be working with another instructor at the club, but after discussing what they are working on and watching them swing, we can offer positive reinforcement if it looks like they’re on the right track, or connect them with their instructor if it does not appear what they’re doing meets the goals set with their coach. We don’t offer tips to supersede the other professional’s instruction. Most members have limited time to practice and we want their practice sessions to be productive and fruitful. Very often we will isolate simple issues in their setup, grip, posture, or ball position – though evident to the trained eye, these issues are vital to their progression and improvement, and usually overlooked by the golfers themselves. Through this program we are promoting the game of golf, our primary role as PGA Professionals. We are also engaging our members, a vital aspect of our duties as well and giving members an opportunity to ask for help or simply accept the assistance we are offering – many individuals are not comfortable asking for help – this helps remedies that situation.

Jason Prendergast on the business impact of engaging members on your practice range:

This system allows the members to get in front of a PGA Professional as a checkup. It also serves as an icebreaker, initiating a conversation between our staff and members. We always “offer to help” first, rather than just dictating instruction or spewing suggestions at them. When those who welcome such guidance see the positive effects that our advice has on their ball flight or golf swing, they often bring up taking lessons and now we’ve gained a new student. In fact, once they see the quick effect our advice has, and the topic of lessons arises, the encounter almost always leads to further collaboration. Our lesson books fill up faster during weeks when we promote these interactions. Though it helps our business to attain new students and remain busy on the lesson tee, the primary goal here is to help our members and have them leave the range happier than when they arrived. With some of those small adjustments mentioned earlier, they often see positive results on the spot. By engaging in a brief conversation, we’re letting them know that “we’re here to help”.

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