Free Clinics

Steve Volpicelli, the 2008 Central New York PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities, is the PGA head professional at Soaring Eagle Golf Course in Horseheads, N.Y.

For the PGA Professional, an important element of tournaments and outings is interaction with participants and making it a fun-filled day for them. For me, offering a free 30-minute clinic before the start of the tournament has been a great way to increase synergy among participants and our staff. I focus mainly on the short game in our clinics; because the outings we host are generally scrambles, and with the scramble format it’s that long putt or that chip-in that really makes the difference in their team’s score. I also include a lot of verbal instruction such as talking about course management, what to do around the green and club selection in certain situations. It’s not about you, obviously there is a financial gain involved for your facility, but the idea is to give the best experience your golf course can extend. It’s just a little added value that’s great for the tournament you’re working with and the next one to come along. How much you can give a person, a company or a golf outing is an absolute plus for your business and helps retain outings for years to come. I just like the idea of interacting with people; it adds a unique personable element to our golf outings.

Offering free clinics has sometimes resulted in wedge or putter sales right on the spot. By demonstrating short-game techniques using a lob wedge I may get a guy saying to me, “You know, I think I could use a 60-degree wedge.” I also bring out some different clubs and show them how they can be beneficial to their game, such as demonstrating how to use a hybrid around the green to knock shots close out of the rough, or just putting a new putter in their hands. I haven’t gone crazy as far as sales, but I have made a few sales this way. It really stands to get people thinking about it and perhaps returning to my shop when they want to buy.