PGA instructors leaving money on the range!

    Tony Clark argues that instructors are missing out on revenue from the sale of training aids.

    Tour players including major winners, the best instructors in the world and millions of golfers use training aids, whether branded or home-made, often to great effect. In this article I’ll share with you the money that you’re missing out on. It’s a mind-boggling amount! You need to understand the commerciality of training aids and their potential value to your business.Tony Clark

    I remember about 15 years ago I was in Florida talking to a pro about training aids. He said, “I don’t use training aids”, yet in his cart as he headed to the teaching tee were a video camera and a mirror. Of course he may have had a different use for those, but let’s not go there!

    We learn in various ways whether audio via the instructor, visually through use of video or demonstration or kinaesthetically and often all three to a degree and with new technologies instructors are able to demonstrate to students their levels of improvement as a direct consequence of using certain training aids/concepts.

    But what happens when the student leaves us? How do we know that he or she is practicing what we’ve worked on to ingrain that new movement?

    Quite simply it’s the instructor’s responsibility to provide a training regime for the student to follow in between lessons so that progress can be continued and the best way to do this is to have them use the same tools, where possible, that they’ve used when working with their instructor.

    Golf training aids are a multi-million pound business. Yet what strikes me is that the vast majority are sold online and NOT via the PGA pro. How can that be? Millions of golfers take lessons and trust implicitly their coach. They’ll often be using training aids, with success, during lessons so it makes perfect sense that they should seek continuity beyond the teaching tee as this probably accounts for only one percent of their time invested in golf.

    When you introduce a training aid to a lesson you’ll obviously give the student an understanding of how it should work and why. When they see improvement as a consequence of using the teaching aid they will be wishing that they also owned one. I can guarantee this 100 percent. It’s human nature. And because you want your student to improve (after all it’s a direct reflection on you) it makes sense for them to have that training aid when they practise. This is where ‘suggestive selling’ comes in. Nothing devious, merely helping the student reach a decision that they want to make. For example: “I believe if you had one of these at home and used it three times a week you’d see significant improvement in your…tempo, ball striking, balance, putting stroke”, and so on. Whichever training aid it is that you’re using and whatever it is you’re working on.

    table-tony-clark-septemberI’ve seen training aids on sale in pro shops. When I ask how sales are going it’s often a negative response. When I ask the pro if he or she uses any of the training aids in lessons, the answer is often a NO or very few. Now there’s the problem. If you’re going to sell training aids be selective. Sell only what you’ll use in your coaching. This builds credibility in the product and demonstrates your confidence in what the training aid can deliver both to you as a coach and your students.

    How is it that at PlaneSwing we sell seven to one in favour of the home-user yet we receive less than one percent of sales via pros that have a PlaneSwing? That makes no sense at all yet I believe that it will be pretty consistent across all golf teaching/training aids.

    As a teaching professional you are operating a business. There should be many facets to that business and retailing teaching related products is one of them and it requires focus in the short-term until it becomes a natural part of your coaching. Many head professionals have assistants that coach. These assistants are your sales people in the shop but they should also be your sales people on the range (incentivised?) generating a new revenue stream.

    Now I’m a kinaesthetic kind of guy and I’ve found that the vast majority of golfers are too. Feeling is understanding and this accelerates the learning process and delivers rapid results. But I value video too as being able to show a student the progress that’s been made using a particular training aid. When you do this you’re as close to a sale as you’ll ever get.

    This gives PGA pros a HUGE advantage over the on-line and high street retailer because it’s HERE and NOW! Your student will never be in a better mood to buy than when they’ve seen great results.

    Let’s look at the numbers using examples from some training aids that I know best (see table).

    These are modest projections but give an indication as to what’s possible. Couldn’t everyone do with an extra £6,000 plus a year?

    Factor in the PlaneSwing Programme and this doubles to over £12,000 per year! Sure, it requires some effort and training but self-development and development of your team are essential if you’re to grow your business.

    I’d encourage every PGA pro to work with his or her team to identify which training aids work and which have retail potential to the benefit of your students’ game and your business. Remember; if your students aren’t buying training aids from you, it’s likely they’re buying from someone else.

    Tony Clark is Owner/Managing Director of PlaneSWING Golf and a business consultant with Clark Management Group Ltd. He can be contacted at 01604 830880 or by email at