Andy Carlton, head professional at Paisley Golf Club in Renfrewshire, has been named TGI Golf’s Partner of the Year. He spoke to Robin Barwick
What is your career history in 50 words?
My dad introduced me to the game at the age of four. I played my amateur golf at Fereneze Golf Club, Barrhead, before turning pro at 18. I worked at Strathaven GC for 4 years, before a brief stint in Australia, and then I returned to work as head assistant pro at Cawder GC. In 2010 I became head pro at Paisley GC.
What has been your personal playing highlight so far?
As an amateur it was representing Scotland U-16 and beating our ‘Auld enemy’. Then as a professional it was winning the Paul Lawrie Assistants Pro Am at Shotts with a round of 67.
What is a unique selling point of Paisley GC to golfers?
Our layout is fantastic; every hole is different and challenging. Then the views we get on top of the braes are spectacular, and on a clear day we can see seven different counties.
Congratulations on being named TGI partner of the year. How does it feel and what happened at the Awards dinner?
I was absolutely delighted. I’m very proud and honoured to be Partner of the Year. I was up against two other fantastic candidates, and to be voted by my peers means more than anything. It was the last award of the evening, and to say I was nervous would be a slight understatement (even the eight Peronis never touched the side!) When my name was read out I was shocked but absolutely ecstatic, and I couldn’t wait to let my family know I had won.
How was trade for your business in 2013 compared to 2012?
2013 was my best year to date; turnover was up but more importantly I increased my profit margin. This was due to various reasons; the weather from May to September was great, which increased footfall through the shop, but employing my sister – which is also a qualified pro – has been the best decision in my four years at Paisley. We have increased coaching opportunities, her communication and interaction with the membership has been first class and her passion for the game is infectious. The members have really bought into our new partnership.
How do you hope to take your business forward in 2014?
Winning this award has increased my desire to succeed and progress within my profession. We are now teaching in nine local schools, which has been great in terms of promoting my brand out to the wider community. I have since started my own Junior Golf Academy as a result of interest from the local kids. So far this year I have invested in an EPOS till system and four custom-fitting carts. This will allow me to monitor and control my business better and to also offer the membership a comprehensive fitting facility.
Which brands of hardware and software tend to get the till ringing in your shop?
Ping and Callaway have both performed consistently well for me at Paisley. I get great support from the reps and the product and price seems to fit well with the majority of my members. In software, Nike and FootJoy have been great for my business. Footjoy apparel appeals to all age groups and Nike – for whatever reason – works so well it’s a ‘no brainer’. My members can’t get enough of Nike clothing, and again, I think the price points suit my business.
What are the best margin-making products in your pro shop?
Galvin Green is a brand where you can make good margin. This year I will focus a bit more attention on niche categories, such as Ryder Cup logo goods, club crested products and I am also pushing my repairs service, which is a fantastic way to increase margin.
With four new fitting carts, custom-fitting must be an important part of your business.
Custom-fitting has grown arms and legs in recent years. For us club professionals, I feel we have to offer a wide range of fitting opportunities if we are to compete against the big boys. My four fitting carts in store are for Callaway, Ping, Adams and Cleveland, and over the next year I intend to introduce Flightscope or Trackman into my business.
How do you keep in touch with your members and customers?
I find social media a great way of communicating and interacting with my membership. Facebook and Twitter have been superb for my business and increasing my customer base. My best form of communication is my E-Newsletter programme, run by TGI Golf. I take great pride in my newsletters, personalising the content to suit my customer base. The feedback I get from the newsletters is fantastic and it definitely increases sales.