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Not the Swing, but Visibility, Member Service and Access is Paramount for any Department Head
Visibility is crucial for a Director of Golf and Pat Gunning understands that. His daily ritual as Director of Golf at the famed Noyac Golf Club takes him to the club to greet the members teeing off at 6.30am. His day is basically set up to make himself as visible to the members as possible. Although at the club most of the day, he limits the number of hours he teaches, so he remains available to the membership, and sometimes more importantly, to his staff.
Tee Times for Management Flow
“Starting times, tee times, it really allows you to anticipate what is going to happen better. It makes the flow of the day that much easier,” says Gunning who has worked at clubs with and without tee times. Covid, says Gunning, really ended the “Caddy Yard” – and with Covid and starting times changing people’s thought processes on tee times, it allow caddies to be reserved and also get on with their work and with their day too rather than just hanging at the caddy barn.
“The Little Things Take Care of the Big Things”
Pat realizes that golf and tennis professionals, and really anyone in the club business, are in the hospitality business. He learned the above quote from one of his mentors, Jack Druga, who is Director of Golf at Shinnecock Hills. And, recently retired Bob Ford who served as Director of Golf at both Oakmont and Seminole, always told Pat to treat members as if they were guests in your own home. Pat says keeping these two thoughts in his mind during a fast-paced summer season allows him to succeed.
Is it the Era of Reconstruction for Golf Courses?
Clubs want to create a better and more memorable experience and the design of the golf course falls into making that playing experience better. Having viewed changes across the nation by some of the best golf course architects, Gunning believes that the best changes are tweaks and modifications which make the golf course harder for the A and B player but slightly easier for the C and D player. The architects, Gunning says, are masters at making holes playable for all level of players.
Golf course design and modification is part of a long-term strategy. Gunning adds that long-term strategic planning is really all about idea creation. Timelines may be either adopted or changed or completely shelved by the Board, but it’s imperative to keep new ideas flowing through the strategic plan, believes Gunning. Planning for next year is essential and reviewing the calendar, event by event, is a crucial exercise to do post-season. It helps keep the season flowing and allows to avoid staff burnout and member boredom.
Pat Gunning joins the BeyondTheBaselines.com podcast as one of the leading Directors of Golf in the country.