His runner-up finish at a national Canadian PGA event two years ago indicates that Jeff Buder has got game, but like other golf professionals these days, his attention is more often than not diverted from the golf course to the business side of the game.
“I’ve said to my (staff) that the things that are important to me are that you have to know the product you’re selling in the shop for one, you have to be a really good fitter, you have to be a good teacher and a good player because, personally, I’d have a hard time taking a lesson from somebody who wasn’t better than me,” said Buder.
All of those attributes are critical, according to the head professional at the Point Grey Golf and Country Club in Vancouver, including playing, which often goes down the priority list in today’s business environment.
“As a club professional, outside of those three or four things, they can hire anybody to work the shop. Why wouldn’t you just go out and hire really good retail people and put them in the shop instead of having a golf pro?” he asked.
“To me, I find that’s more our niche in the business is the playing aspect of it,” said Buder, who lost to Ben Boudreau in a playoff at the 2009 Titleist and FootJoy Canadian PGA Club Professionals Championship in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
As a result, Buder believes playing with members is part of customer service and the Point Grey membership and board illustrated recently how much they do take an interest in the accomplishments of their pros on the golf course.
“One of the aspects of my memberships is why would they have go play in a pro-am somewhere else to play with a pro, so we try to make it to where all our (staff) play quite a bit with the membership,” he said.
“We keep a log book of how many members we cover off each year,” added Buder, who received quite a surprise as a result of his business approach to playing in the revitalized PGA Championship of Canada, which takes place next month at Cottonwood Golf and Country Club near Calgary.
Buder is currently ranked 32nd in the new Canadian PGA player rankings, which would qualify him for the national championship, but the schedule just wasn’t working out.
“From my standpoint, the date of the tournament is very tricky. For west coast guys, it’s right in the middle of member-guest season, between the men’s member-guest and the ladies’ member-guest the next week and almost all the clubs, at least in B.C., t’is the season,” he said.
“I didn’t even really sign up for (the Canadian PGA Championship). I just called the guys and said, `Hey, there’s no chance of going. I just can’t do it. I like the idea – it just doesn’t work out schedule-wise,’” said Buder.
Other people at the club had different ideas once they read a letter from Canadian PGA executive director Gary Bernard, who had contacted clubs across the country telling them about the new championship and the rankings.
“After Gary’s letter, there were a couple of directors at the club that said, `Well, it’s pretty cool. The championship’s close and you’re definitely going to go for it, are you not?” said Buder.
“My general manager said, `Are you going to play?’ I said, `Well, I can’t go play. It’s during the men’s member-guest,’” said Buder, who got a different reaction than he expected.
“They’re like, `Why wouldn’t you go represent the club and play in the tournament, instead of hanging out at the member-guest? You’re going to get to one of the two (member-guests) and that’s fine, but part of your job is to go represent the club playing, as well,” said Buder.
In retrospect, Buder says he shouldn’t have been surprised by that reaction because the board and members typically do get behind their pros in an era when playing so often takes a back seat to business.
“With the Internet, they follow all the guys in our provincial tournaments and national championships and they want the results posted up on the board,” said Buder.
“We’re pretty fortunate, at least at Point Grey, because the members are totally interested in how we play and what tournaments we’re playing – myself and my assistants,” he added. “It’s a little bit of a different scenario because I have worked at clubs where playing is almost non-existent.”