The Head Professional at Topgolf, in Chigwell, discusses swapping the grandeur of Stoke Park for a super-modern driving range.
When the new owners of Stoke Park closed the Buckinghamshire club for major restoration work, PGA Member James Moar needed a new role. So, when an opportunity arose at Topgolf in Chigwell, Essex, last year, he jumped at the chance to work in a very different golfing environment.
What does your role involve?
Like most Head Pros, my role here is giving lessons. The difference being that lessons are not the first thing people think about as a Topgolf offering so I have to make our guests aware that they can have that experience – they don’t have to struggle, they can have lessons and improve their score.
When I’m not coaching, I’ll visit people in the bays, talk to them, ask them if they need any help and try to enhance their experience. I’m also training the other staff to improve their golf knowledge, so they feel confident enough to be able to give our guests advice. Ultimately, if our guests go away and say they’ve had an amazing experience because the coach has spent a bit of time with them and helped them improve hitting their shots, then that’s my role.
How different is it to your previous job?
After working at Stoke Park, changing setting completely really appealed to me. I was the junior teaching coach there so my main focus was the children. Here, I have more areas to cover – as Head Pro I have more responsibilities to drive the whole experience. As a driving range setting, Topgolf attracts a different audience. It’s golf but with a twist. I think Topgolf is a lot more accessible in cost and there’s a big family element. It lets people just enjoy golf for what it is – a great sport – as it doesn’t have any of the perceived hurdles that people associate with golf. As a result, we see golfers who come here to have fun with their mates, progress to lessons, progress to playing on a course and ultimately getting a membership somewhere. Topgolf also sees a great many more people coming through the doors, so I’m in a great position to grow the game.
How does it fit into your career path?
I’ve stepped up the ladder in terms of position and I’ve got more responsibility because I’m here to grow the business and the whole coaching environment. As a Leadbetter certified instructor, I aim to learn how to coach in different venues and environments. I’ve never worked on a driving range facility before so it’s a challenge but one that’s going to push me to improve and one that I’m fully embracing. I can see a long future at Topgolf because we have a great team and can have a real impact on the game.
How’s the new job going?
I absolutely love it. I think Topgolf is doing an amazing thing for golf. It’s a very forward-thinking company and is trying to get as many people exposed to golf as possible. And I think this is a really great place to be able to try to drive the game forward and be that first port of call to anybody who wants to try to play.
What are the most pressing jobs on your to-do list?
I’m trying to grow my diary as much as possible and get lessons booked in – raise awareness of lessons and coaching for the facility and for Topgolf. I’m also trying to create a coach zone within the facility that helps people become immediately aware of the coaching offerings here.
What are your goals in the role?
I’m hoping that between myself and the coaches at the other UK venues, we can try to grow the coach offering within the UK and hopefully some of our ideas can filter out to the wider network of Topgolfs across the world. Our mission is to make it as fun and as caring an environment as possible, so people know they’re in a good, fun place, where they’re going to be safe, interact with staff, have a great golf experience, and come away with a big, beaming smile on their face.