John Jermine, Chairman of the Golf Union of Wales (GUW), has backed the skill and expertise of PGA pros in helping clubs build and sustain strong memberships.
The former chartered accountant, who is one of Wales’ most successful amateur golfers, also insisted that clubs need a triumvirate of pro, club secretary and junior organiser working closely together.
“I am convinced that unless clubs grasp the nettle and put in a PGA qualified professional they will never get the club where they want it to be,” said Jermine.
“At the GUW, we have some great examples of dramatic improvements made to clubs with the help of a PGA Professional.
“The secret going forward for most clubs, and the lifeblood of the future of clubs, is bringing new people into the game and, therefore, we need PGA pros who can teach in primary and secondary schools, get out into the community and coach people of all ages, whether young or old.
“A big opportunity is to attract the older generations who tend to have more time and who might be looking for a new sport.
“We have discovered through our research that people who become reasonably competent, fairly quickly tend to keep playing golf.
“The biggest loss of members to clubs are those who have been playing for a couple of years but haven’t got much better and as a result lose momentum and interest.
“When you have a PGA pro at a club playing an active part that doesn’t happen because they are always there to help them improve, play better golf and enjoy the game more.”
It’s in the area of junior golf too that Jermine feels pros can have a particularly significant impact.
“We’ve also discovered that young girls need to start playing golf between the ages of seven to 10 so by the time they get to 13 and 14 they are playing well enough that they want to continue playing,” he added.
“If they don’t start playing until they are 13 or 14 they never get good enough to want to keep playing when other interests arrive, as they inevitably do.”
The PGA has been actively engaging with clubs throughout the UK to highlight the benefits PGA pros bring to facilities and that message was reinforced by Jermine.
“Why do people enjoy golf? Because it is a great sport, a place where they can meet friends, make new friends and enjoy the social side of the club. It is also a sport we can play for life with every club in the local area delighted to see new faces.
“But they also enjoy playing the game as well as they can and that’s where you need the PGA Professional; to do that the Club Professional needs the active support of the club secretary and, similarly, a junior organiser. If you have all three elements, without exception, it works.”