A ground-breaking new scheme is giving University students in Scotland the opportunity to run their own pro shop.
lan Fleming, programme leader for golf curriculum at North Highland College UHI, set up the new arrangement. “The pro shop has been brilliantly staffed by owners and volunteers for the past 15 years. When it became vacant at the end of last season, we approached the club with a proposal to cover the running of the shop, incorporating it into our curriculum. We felt this would allow students to apply their learning and develop their skills in a real work environment and would also benefit the club.”olf has a reputation for playing things safe, but a forward thinking new scheme in Scotland has put University students in charge of running the shop at Golspie Golf Club. The students from the University of the Highlands and Islands are gaining first-hand experience by taking over the newly renovated shop, and working their throughout the year.
Alan Fleming, programme leader for golf curriculum at North Highland College UHI, set up the new arrangement. “The pro shop has been brilliantly staffed by owners and volunteers for the past 15 years. When it became vacant at the end of last season, we approached the club with a proposal to cover the running of the shop, incorporating it into our curriculum. We felt this would allow students to apply their learning and develop their skills in a real work environment and would also benefit the club.”
While they will be supported by the university staff, it’s the students who are responsible for the day to day running of the shop. Not only that, they will also have the opportunity to develop commercial strategies, implement operational changes and make managerial recommendations to the club’s committee.
“We believe this is a unique partnership in the world of golf,” Alan continues. “The level of input and responsibility involved will provide students with excellent learning and development opportunities which will greatly benefit them as they progress in the industry. The students will also bring fresh ideas and services to the club, including coaching, club repair, club fitting, junior development and online merchandise ordering.”
Andrew Sutherland, Golspie Golf Club secretary, explained how the team up was helping all parties. “The partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands and students will enable us to bring to the club many new services including coaching, club repair, club fitting, junior development and online merchandise ordering amongst others. As part of their degree courses, they have modules which include marketing and events and, by driving projects within the golf club, they will develop their skills whilst directly benefiting the golf club. This will be of massive benefit to the club with new and exciting events from fresh minds.”
The club members have been impressed by what they’ve seen from the students so far. Member Sheila Robertson had this to say. “The students have been providing real hands on experience in dealing with us members, visitors to the golf club, and they have been just fantastic with the juniors. They have been really involved in promotion of the golf club and their youthful ideas can really help with the development of the golf club. We are seeing benefits already from their knowledge, training and enthusiasm. We welcome the opportunity for their Golf Management and Professional Golf training to drive this innovative initiative forward and really believe this offers mutual benefits to both students and club.”
Caitlin Boa from Dornoch is one of the students helping to run the shop. “It’s such a great opportunity to be involved so closely in the running of the shop and other parts of the Club. It provides the ideal platform for us to put the industry skills and knowledge we’ve gained in our studies to test, maximising our learning experience and benefiting the Club in return.”
Another student, Graham Minton was excited by the prospect of running the shop. “When the opportunity arose to help the running of Golspie Golf Club, it was a no brainer for me! Being able to apply the theory we learn in the classroom into a real golf club by running the retail side of things, alongside organising competitions and junior coaching, is an opportunity I simply could not get anywhere else.”
Graham went into detail about how the golf industry had been supportive of the project. “Working with Foremost Golf has been a great process, from the initial help we had from them in setting up the accounts and the shop from scratch, to their ‘click and collect’ service. From our point of view, their knowledge and advice at this stage of the project was really beneficial. The members have been giving us feedback on a daily basis, all of which has been very positive in regards to the quality of stock we now offer at Golspie Golf Club.”
As well as Foremost, other brands have also been incredibly supportive of the students. “We have also dealt directly with a number of brands including Cleveland Srixon and Glenmuir. Srixon have been extremely helpful in the initial stages of this process, by providing excellent points of sale to make our shop space look far more professional. Srixon’s Regional Account Manager, Joe Miller, also held an information session on the art of custom-fitting which gave us a fantastic insight into the life of a tour club fitter.
“Glenmuir have also been very helpful throughout the process, from helping to develop the new club logo to providing our new Golspie Golf Club staff uniform.”
We look forward to getting the students end of year reports, and seeing how the shop does over the next twelve months. GR