Sales Skills: From Country Club Golf Professional to Recruiter

By: Les Schafer

Little did I know it then but the 7 years that I spent working my way up from a bag room assistant to a 1st assistant golf professional taught me key foundational sales principles that I still lean on and use today in being a pharmaceutical recruiter.

It was a lot of hard work. Working weekends and holidays. Shifts in the summertime typically from 6am to 2pm or 1pm to 9pm and some days you might have had to work an open to close shift. Tasks included running golf carts, cleaning golf carts, cleaning golf clubs after rounds, regripping golf clubs, running golf tournaments, giving golf lessons, placing and tracking custom orders for members, taking tee times, picking the golf balls off the driving range(and yes driving the cart with the cage and getting hit), setting up the driving range, cleaning the range balls, etc.


Of course there were good days and bad days. The good being you did your job and you were thanked and the bad days where your service did not meet the member’s expectations.

What I learned:

  • Greet each person with a smile and say “how can I help you today”

No matter how bad I didn’t want to go to work that day or no matter how bad I was feeling I would have to get myslelf ready for the first member to walk in the pro shop that day.  My job was at stake, my brand was at stake, the reputation of the club professional staff was always on the line. I needed to deliver a consistent experience of me and the club and staff and how I was ready to take care of them no matter what their request was. That was my commitment to myself and my commitment to them.  For me this set the tone for the day and it is something I still do today before I walk into the office or before I make my first call of the day. Which is to make sure I am in the right frame of mind and that I have a positive mental attitude.

  • Be willing to go over and above so you can deliver a positive result or experience.

Whether I was working at Ocean Reef Golf Club in Florida or White Manor Country Club in Pennsylvania I was serving members who were paying large sums of money to join these clubs. They expected a return on their investment. Whenever they had a request I learned how to deliver on their request. It could be as simple as making sure their clubs were shipped on the right day to the right location or maybe delivering a message to a family member later that day or tracking down a certain style of golf shoe. At the end of the day it felt good to meet or exceed a member’s expectation.  This is something I still try to uphold as a recruiter. Make sure I do everything in my power to deliver a positive result or experience either internally to my co-workers or externally to candidates and clients.

  • Show a genuine interest in people and your efforts will be rewarded 10-fold.

In my late 20’s I had realized the importance of building strong relationships with my friends and in my short 4 years in the construction industry I also learned how to build relationships with subcontractors and clients and inspectors.  But after being an assistant golf professional for 7 years and having to interact with members everyday, face to face, of all ages (7 year olds to 80 year olds) I got to see the difference I was making by showing an interest in them.  I took this approach because it made my days more fun and because I genuinely did want to get to know these people and what was important to them. From those relationships I was invited to parties, I was invited to play golf at prestigious golf courses like Pine Valley, I also received wedding presents when I announced my engagement and when I needed a favor or advice I always had someone that I could reach out to and they were happy to help me.  In short, what I was doing was building a relationship and making new friends. Friends who knew I was there to help them and who in turn were there to help me if I needed help.

I feel a lot of what I do today is very similar to what I did when I was a golf professional. After 13 years of being a recruiter and learning about sales I feel these 3 key principles are taught in some way or another in recruiting and sales training.  I do feel however, that no matter what profession you are in I would bet money that you can’t go wrong if you followed these mantras.