The sales and marketing director for golf’s biggest shoe brand on participation, Paolo Nutini and why we should focus on the positive aspects of golf.
What’s your favourite golf course?
It would have to be Sunningdale New. As soon as you are there and you stand on the first tee you know it is a proper golf course with a lot of history and heritage. It’s a really tough test and sometimes you come off it and you might feel a little beaten, but I quite enjoy that as it means you have played a really strong layout.
What’s the best shot you’ve ever played?
When I was a junior I was playing in the final of the seniors’ matchplay at my old club and I hit a five wood over a pond on a par three. I debated whether I should do it, but I hit it and got it to within ten feet. At the time that was as big a competition as I had ever played in, and to hit the shot that I wanted to was good.
Who’s your favourite golfer of all time and why?
It is going to be a cliché, but it has to be Seve. I saw a video the other day of him playing the Masters and you just look at the way that he swung and the way he was generally on the golf course. He was a really enjoyable guy to watch and he’s still a huge influence on the game.
If you could change one thing about the golf industry, what would it be?
To be able to increase participation would be great for all concerned; golf pros, retailers, golf course owners and manufacturers. I’d like to focus on the positives though; the non-golfing media are talking about golf struggling, but actually there are a lot of positives. Brands are continually bringing out good products, whether that be ourselves, hardware and golf ball brands, and there are a lot of good products coming out which is exciting for the retailer and the consumer. The brands are understanding a bit better about when to bring out products and you have the young brigade at the top of the world rankings – McIlroy, Day, Spieth and golf in the Olympics for the first time, so focusing on the positives would be a nice change from some people. Don’t get me wrong, the golf industry isn’t what it was ten years ago when it was booming and it seemed like a golf course was being built every few minutes. It’s not an easy industry but there are a lot of positives.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Specific to my role would be the variety, so being involved in product development meetings, working with the sales team, helping to develop marketing strategies, getting involved in forecasting. There is no typical day and, while trying to keep all the plates spinning can be a challenge, it does make it very enjoyable.
What’s the hardest part of it?
Probably when you have a really creative session, whether it be marketing or a product meeting, and there is so much good stuff to do that you can’t do all of it so you have to leave some things. Having to leave some really good ideas on the bench to come back to another day can be tough.
What’s the biggest issue facing golf?
I think it comes back to participation. National Golf Month has been fantastic, it has drawn people back into the game, but I think what is missing is that link of people going to the range a few times and going to pitch and putt to that next step. There is a significant step to membership and accessibility. We are doing a good job getting people interested, but I don’t think we have worked out what that next step is to keep them and hold them in the game.
Who would you invite to your ideal dinner party if it was you and five other people?
Noel Gallagher, Richard Branson – I find it interesting how he started with nothing and got to where he is today – David Mitchell, because he makes me laugh just looking at him, Seve and Henrik Stenson as he has a sense of humour that really makes me laugh.
What’s your favourite film?
Ocean’s 11. It is very clever, slick and humorous and while the people are doing bad things there is a lot to like about them.
The most played songs on your iPod are?
Paolo Nutini‘s Pencil Through of Lead and anything by Oasis.
If you weren’t working in golf, where would you be?
I would probably be a French and German teacher as I studied these at University, so if I hadn’t been fortunate enough to get into golf I would have used my languages translating or teaching.