Bob Paley is head professional of the Kananaskis Country Golf Course near Calgary and was recently named Club Professional of the Year and Merchandiser of the Year by the Canadian PGA. Below, he chats about learning from staff members of all ages.
When I was an apprentice, there was a definite hierarchy at a golf course where you clearly knew who was the head professional, associate, first associate, second associate, assistant and backshop manager, etc.
There’s still an element of that now, but there’s also an attitude of everybody being in it together at many places, meaning that everybody’s opinion is important even if when decisions have to be made, there’s a need for a hierarchy just to maintain order.
Mentorship, to me, is probably one of the most important things for a professional at any level. I’m 41 years old and I have people in my life – people such as Tiffany Gordon at Cottonwood and Ron Laugher at Priddis Greens – who have been my mentors for a long time, who I still lean on and will always count on.
I also learn from first-year apprentices because they’ve got a finger on the pulse of some really interesting and new things such as technology. I hired a new professional who has opened my eyes to some amazing things on the Internet.
I think you really have your eyes opened when you empower those around you rather than thinking you’re the high and mighty. It’s amazing what happens when you do ask somebody who’s 20 years old, `Hey, what do you think about this,’ or `You’re in school – what have you been learning?’
To me, that’s important because it’s helping to keep our business fresh and keeping me fresh as a professional by gaining new perspectives.
If you don’t have an environment in which you’re learning from everybody – you’re learning from them, they’re learning from you – you’re not getting the most out of that team.
I really believe that’s one of the strengths of our place is that everyone’s opinion matters and everybody does everything. I’ll go pick golf balls at the range and, in turn, ask maybe a first-year assistant to run a staff meeting or do scheduling for a week.
There’s still some order, but everybody feels like they’re learning and everybody feels like they’re getting something out of it. The end result of that can only be something positive.