Home' Australian Golf Digest : January 2018 Contents W
E’VE all been to a
good course with
poor service as well
as a poor course with
good service. At the
former, we typically
walk away feeling as
if we haven’t received
good value for money,
even though we
enjoyed the course itself. At the latter, we’re
more inclined to walk away feeling as if our
expectations were somehow exceeded.
Service makes a difference.
As a PGA professional, I’ve spent the
better part of the past 16 years working in,
around and on golf operations. It’s true, golf
courses and their accompanying services,
offerings and amenities are like snowflakes
... no two are completely identical.
However different the course offerings
may be from each other, at their core are
a few critical components that separate
a successful, proactive operation from a
failing, reactive operation. One of these
components is the team that is in place.
For a team to be effective, there needs to be
leadership that has the ability to use all team
members to deliver as much value to the
customer as possible. Now I’ll be the first to
admit some leaders are naturally good at this
while others are ‘mis-cast’ into seniority roles.
Leadership ability aside, the right
components of the team needs to be in
place to maximise the chance of success.
But with a heavily outsourced staff, those
components normally don’t exist.
There is a huge breakdown in efficiency,
teamwork and achieving a common goal
when the golf shop is outsourced, food and
beverage is outsourced, golf maintenance is
outsourced, etc. The best-run operations in
the world have a cohesive approach where
everyone pitches in – everyone assists their
fellow employee, with the common goal of
providing great service to the customer (be
it a member or guest).
From my experience, there isn’t any
motivation for a contracted golf professional
to help a contracted food and beverage
caterer. Hence, the entire customer service
tends to break down.
Increasingly over the past decade, clubs
in Australia and New Zealand have gone
down the path of outsourcing with little
understanding of the damage this can do to
the overall golf experience.
The best service-driven operations I
have been part of had an inherent sense of
teamwork. They were led from the top, but
the culture was understood throughout
the entire staff. Not only was teamwork
expected of us, we were trained on how to
What I’m talking about is no different than
a football coach drawing plays on a white-
board with Xs and Os. It’s about moving
resources in the right place, at the right time,
to perform. How could that coach possibly
be expected to achieve the desired results if
30, 40 or more than 50 percent of his team
on the field don’t directly work for him?
To put this into a real-life scenario,
consider a morning at a course with heavy
golfer arrivals. There could be a time when
the golf staff becomes overwhelmed. We’ve
all seen it before. Enter a member of the food
and beverage team who can quickly lend a
set of hands for five minutes and help steady
the ship. On the flip side, when it pours with
rain at 10am and 80 players come off the
course, the golf staff can jump in and offer
assistance in the restaurant.
This model works because everyone is on
the same team, aligned with one common
goal. The team members have a vested
interest in helping their co-workers and
there is a skilled manager in place who can
oversee the entire process and call the shots.
But when the golf professional is
contracted to populate part of a building,
the food and beverage staff are contracted
from a local restaurant or caterer, and the
golf maintenance team is outsourced to a
third party, there is no sense of teamwork
and no motivation to work together.
In this scenario, the general manager is
essentially trying to manage the multiple
relationships while not having any control
over the staff working at the course. This
inevitably leads to two things happening –
conflict and a failure to deliver great service.
Conflict comes from the high risk of
breakdown in one or more relationships
between the club and contractors. Failure
to deliver great service is a result of the
contracted labour not working together
cohesively and not helping their co-workers
to ensure the guest experience is as good as
it can be.
With regard to golf clubs, the first step
in determining if you have a problem with
outsourced staff is to take your facility
through a self-assessment. When business
levels increase, do you see outsourced
departments looking out for one another
and the course as a whole? Or do you observe
a food and beverage team struggling with
their role while the golf staff leans on the
counter and watches?
I’m not advocating for clubs to scrap a
model that may be working for them. But
the overwhelming number of clubs that
choose to outsource the main components
of their offering will run into the problems
mentioned at some stage in their life cycle.
Bringing labour in-house does carry
risks, but those risks are greatly reduced
with a management team that has expertise
in running a golf business. Too often I
see club structures that follow the path of
least resistance ... outsource the critical
components of the business and hire a
generalist, not a specialist, to oversee them.
Ryan Brandeburg is a PGA member and formerly the director of golf at Kauri Cliffs and Cape
Kidnappers. He has held a number of senior managerial and consultant roles in New Zealand
and America. He is also the author of two books aimed at educating young golf professionals.
january 2018 | australiangolfdigest.com.au 113
7/12/17 2:05 pm
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