STEPHEN HAYES celebrated 10 years in Douglas Golf Club earlier this month, and it was a very happy milestone for the PGA Professional.
Having played his junior golf with Lee Valley, Hayes trained under Bandon’s Paddy O’Boyle and then worked with Brendan McDaid in Rathsallagh.
Ten years ago he made the move to Douglas after the retirement of Gary Nicholson, and it’s been an exciting decade.
“The time is after flying by with many things both personal and business-wise filled into that time,” said Hayes.
“It’s great to have trained two PGA Professionals in that time and Shane currently doing his training with us.
“I also got married, had two kids and bought a house!”
Hayes was a big hit with the members from the start, fitting in nicely into the busy club environment.
“The members gave us a great welcome right from the start and they have been very loyal and supportive over the past 10 years. The biggest change has been the number of new members that have come into the club over the past five years.
“The club is full of activity and there is a real buzz around the club with people using the clubhouse, course, and practice facilities.”
Being a club professional generally means that you’re also training the next generation, and Hayes has fulfilled that after successfully training Brian O’Donovan and Davey Barry.
Brian is currently teaching at the Mission Hills golf resort in China while Davey Barry recently made the move to Ballyneety Golf Centre in Limerick.
As well as managing the shop, Stephen also employs staff to cover 100 hour per week rota.
“Staffing is very important,” said Stephen. “I have been very lucky to have had great assistant PGA Professionals working with us.
“Both Brian and Davey have both moved on over that time and are doing well for themselves in their roles as teaching professionals.
“It was great to see Shane win assistant of the year for Year One recently. Shane works very hard and has been a great addition to the team over the past year and half. It’s also great to have Clodagh Coughlan working with us.
“Clodagh used come up to our juvenile girls coaching when I started in Douglas first. It has been great to see her develop her golf game in that time and represent Ireland this year in the South American Golf Championship in January and also becoming the juvenile girls officer in Douglas Golf Club.”
While the pro shop is often the centre of the off-course activities, Stephen says Douglas is also benefitting from the substantial investment in their new practice facilities.
“The retail side of the business is the centre of the business but we are lucky to have great practice facilities in the club so teaching is important part the business.
“We run a winter training programme for our juveniles over the winter and also through the summer
“It’s important that members get the opportunity to learn the basic fundamentals from early stage along with their Fundamental Movement Skills.
“As juvenile members progress more specialist areas are included in their programs including golf fitness.
“Irish International Peter O’Keeffe carries out training programmes for our juveniles and is a great role model for our junior golfers.”
Working with club members and teams is a big part of the job for Stephen and in the past 10 years he’s been involved with several successful teams that have brought back pennants to the club.
“We also work with our teams in the run up to our inter-club competitions. This is always very enjoyable and there is always a great buzz around the teams during this time.
“We have been very lucky to be involved in some successful teams over our 10 years. In 2011 our Ladies Senior Cup team won the All-Ireland in Malone Golf Club.
“In 2015 our Fred Daly team won Munster Pennant and the following year our Junior Cup team won the Munster pennant.
“In 2018 our ladies team won the All-Ireland final in Knightsbrook. Along with the team competitions it also great to see individual success.
“Whether that’s a player winning a weekly singles, monthly medal, captains prize or golfer of the year.
“One of the highlights individually over that time was seeing Sara Byrne win the Irish Ladies Close Championship in 2018.”
Earlier this year Stephen and a few Cork professionals attended the PGA show in Florida.
While the trip was a bit of a busman’s holiday, it did give them opportunity so see some top coaches in action, and get a first look at the new technology and developments that will shape the game over the next 12 months.
It was also a learning event for Stephen as he took in the latest changes.
“It was great to get to the PGA Show in Orlando in January. There is always a great buzz at this event and it is a great opportunity to see the latest golf products, teaching aids, and technology.
“The biggest takeout for me from the show was the use of technology in teaching but more importantly in our members golf experience.
“With the weather so poor over winter months it is great to have a facility where members can practice indoors in Trackman studio where they can just play golf with their friends in a nice warm dry environment, check their distances or simply test themselves with the Trackman combine test.”