Getting Better Now from the Golf Business Network with Dean Kandle, PGA

EP 001: The Journey to GBN with Patrick Seither (Part One)

August 26, 2018 Dean Kandle Season 1 Episode 1
Getting Better Now from the Golf Business Network with Dean Kandle, PGA
EP 001: The Journey to GBN with Patrick Seither (Part One)
Show Notes Transcript
Welcome to the Getting Better Now Podcast! In the first episode, we talk with Patrick Seither, the President and CEO of the Golf Business Network in part one of our two part conversation. Patrick talks about the route he took to end up in his current position and why he's passionate about helping his fellow PGA Professionals enhance their careers and their lives.
Speaker 1:

Getting better now podcast presented by the golf business network, this show by golf professionals for golf professionals, profiling experts from inside and outside the golf industry to help you advance your career, make a lasting impact, and achieve your goals. Here's your host, PGA professional from St Davids golf club, Dean Kandle.

PS:

Hello and welcome to the first episode of the Getting Better Now podcast. As you heard, this is presented by the Golf Business Network and I'm your host, PGA Professional Dean Kandle. So I first want to thank you for joining us here. I'm really excited about being able to bring this to you. So the point of this podcast is to profile both successful professionals in our business as well as successful individuals outside of the golf industry to learn what they've done to become successful, how have they achieved their goals, and what do they do every day in their jobs that have helped them get to where they are today. So the plan is to bring you this insight so you can take this back to your job and your clubs tomorrow and implement it right away to help you achieve your goals. So we're kicking things off today with a two part interview with the CEO and president of the Golf Business Network. Patrick Seither. So in the first part of our interview we talk about Patrick's path to becoming the CEO of GBN, how he took a traditional PGM university degree and assistant professional positions, head professional and director of golf publish positions and morphed them into now being the CEO of GBN. So we think that by profiling the career paths that others have taken in this business, there's really a lot of value that you can grab from that to help set you off on the path that you want to take in order to achieve your goals. So here we are, part one of our conversation with Patrick Seither. I hope you enjoy it, Patrick, how you doing? Doing great, Dean. Thanks. Thanks for having me on. And really looking forward to the partnership that we're developing with you on this podcast and the in the series. I think it's going to be great for, for our members and others that want to learn more about the golf industry. So I appreciate what you're doing and the time and effort you're putting into it. Well thank you and I appreciate the opportunity. It just the chance to try to share some great ideas and tune into some great professionals throughout the country and also some people outside the industry to help everybody share some great information, hopefully help everybody get a little better at what they do. I think that's the goal and I'm excited for it and it selfishly is going to be a great opportunity for me to learn, which always gets me excited. But in the end we're looking to bring some great content to all of our PGA professionals out there. So thank you for giving me the opportunity. Yeah, that's great. And everything you said there is just in line with our goals and the mission of GBN, trying to help the PGA professional get better at what they're doing and be more informed. You know, we all know nobody's doing anything groundbreaking. It's more just taking little ideas from here and there. And I think this is a great platform to get a lot of those ideas out. So, I'm looking forward to listening in on it. So we're going to get into GBN a little bit more and some of the details and everything that's going on with GBN currently, but I think one of the things that I'm going to be looking to profile in this podcast series, are some of the paths that different PGA professionals have taken to put together a successful career. Whatever success means to that individual, whatever their goals were as a PGA Professional, but really to talk about those different paths that others have taken. And you have a little bit of a different path as well. And I think for those that might not know you have, aren't maybe part of GBN that are listening. I think it'd be great to get into your background and your story in the golf industry and how you ended up where you are as the president and CEO of GBN. You know, it's funny you say that because, quite honestly, I tell people all the time, I have no idea how I'm sitting here doing what I'm doing. And I've been extremely fortunate. You know, I started my career in golf, grew up playing golf in upstate New York and I was involved with other sports, so golf was just one of. And I had some friends at Methodist what used to be Methodist College. It's Methodist University now in Fayetteville, North Carolina. And, it sounded like a good idea to move south and, you know, go to this golf program, which I had no idea about the golf business and what it was really about. But, certainly learned a lot while I was there. I started working in the Pinehurst area in washing carts at Mid Pines and another place called Seven Lakes. And then I ended up, my last year in college, I started as an assistant at Southern Pines Country Club, which is an old Donald Ross in that area. So I spent a couple of years there, anybody that's ever been to Pinehurst, I know it's beautiful area, but as a 21, 22 year old, it's maybe not as much action as you're looking for. So I decided to make a move up to the Raleigh Durham area and I was at a club called Crow's Dale Country Club. It's kind of a nice family club. And was there for about five years. Worked for a gentleman there that had been there for a long time and he had a setup that was different than most in that he owned a lot of the concessions and he was paying the staff and, you know, it's kind of an old school type setup. But I really learned a lot in that and after a few years I was basically running his business. So, that was a really good experience for me. And they were getting ready to do a renovation on the golf course and I wasn't sure really where my position stood. And so I started kind of looking elsewhere and there was a new club being built at the time. This was around 2000 2001 called Old Chatham Golf Club. I had heard about it and we had some mutual members there and I approached one of our members that I knew was there and said, hey, you know, we'd love to, you know, meet with the golf professional there. And he said, hey, we just hired a guy from seminole. And I said, great. So he introduced me to a good friend of mine, John Marino, who's still at Old Chatham. And I became the first person that he hired there as a, as a first assistant. And that was a great experience, you know, new golf course, we were doing a lot of things to get it open, get it ready for opening. Which was different, it's different than the day to day of what you were doing for a long time. So that was a great experience for me. And Old Chatham is you know, it's just pure golf. There's no homes on the golf course, just a really neat place. So I spent a couple years there and out of the blue I got a phone call from Jerry Hog from Methodist. He said, hey, you know, Phil Owenby and be a Kinloch Golf Club up in Richmond is looking for a head professional. So I think you should talk to him. One thing led to another. I did, went up and became the head professional at Kinloch, which became a top 100 club, wasn't when I first went there, but, I think it was in '04 or '05 it had its first ranking there. So fantastic club, Phil, if anybody knows Phil Owenby, he's just the best. Still a great friend of mine and actually a partner in GBN and what we're doing there. So I spent four years there and it was a stepping stone. Phil knew that, I mean, he was the PGA General Manager basically, and you know, it wasn't a lifelong type of position. But, so I had some opportunities, and through what this organization is used to be, AMF, and is now at GBN, but, you know, they were doing some searches and I was involved with some and finally moved on from there. I opened up a club back in the Raleigh Durham area called Hasentree, which is a Fazio designed great golf course, but 2007, this club was predicated on a big real estate venture. So we all know what happened in that. Oops. So, you know, I was there for three years, had a great experience. We built a great service. I learned early on that golf was the commodity and service and hospitality was really what I thought the business was centered around. And that was really where I, I took my career learning from Phil and from John and in other people that had been around and that's what I really built my operation around with service and hospitality and we had a great thing going at Hasentree, but unfortunately just the wrong time. So, things kind of changed over with an owner that predicated a change on my end. And I went back to Old Chatham for a year, then I moved down to Charlotte, went to Carmel Country Club, which was a whole new experience for me. Which, Carmel is a great club. It's 36 holes, 50,000 rounds of Golf, 1400 family memberships. I mean, it's a lot. I mean, when you have a background at a place like Old Chatham that's doing 11 or 12,000 rounds and Kinloch's doing 15, I went into a whole new reality for me there, but it was great. And I was there for two years and that was another stepping stone. I was kind of trying to rebuild my career a little bit, get back to where I wanted to be. I was the Head Professional under the Director of Golf, guy named Jeff Nichols, who's a good friend of mine and has a great golf professional. And then, was fortunate enough to get the job at the Governor's Club as the Director of Golf and that's back in the Raleigh Durham area in Chapel Hill. So I was at Governor's Club and I had always been a member, I mean, I joined AMF as an assistant early on probably in, I don't know, 2004 or 05, and then as it changed into GBN, I've remained a member and just like being in the network. I got to know the individual that was running the organization at that time and I got a phone call from him and it would have been March, I think of 2014 and just basically asked me if I wanted to take over the company. I'll backtrack a little bit. I started a business in 2010. I developed a software program for golf professionals to help track special orders in their shop and demo clubs and things like that. So I had a, that was kind of a side project for me but as we all know, I mean, you know, Dean and anybody listening here, I mean, you're at the club every day, you might get Mondays off where you can mow your lawn and do your laundry or whatever. So it was, it was kind of a side project, but it had growth and I had a business. And, I think I learned that I had sort of this entrepreneurial spirit in me and I never owned my own golf shop, but looking back in running the business for the gentlemen back at this club, Crows Dale, I sort of got the sense of what it was like to run a business, which, I think maybe instilled that in me that, I wanted to do that. So I started that. So I had a business that I could acquire the company GBN and maybe that's why he called me along with maybe just, my knowledge of the company and the industry and network and all that. So, the timing was right. You know, for me it was a, it was a tough decision because I think, and maybe you can relate to this and other people listening, is that you really sort of define yourself as a golf professional. Right? I mean, that's, that's what I was, I was a club professional and that was the biggest thing for me and making that transition where I was no longer going to be that. I mean I was going to be a PGA member, but I wasn't going to be at the club doing the things that I love to do, which was meeting people, growing relationships and so that was difficult. But on the other side of things, it wasn't that difficult to say, hey, you know, this is something inside of me I want to do I see an opportunity to grow the business. So I decided to do that, came to an agreement and the hardest day of my life was walking into the general manager's office, just about a year into that job and saying, I'm resigning and moving onto this other opportunity. It was a very difficult day for me. But, but in the end, it was right. And I exited the right way, which I think is important. I mean, for anybody that might make any change in their career, you know, I, I said, hey, look, I'll be here as long as you need me, I don't want to burn any bridges and so I was on board there for another couple months and help them transition to a new Director of Golf. And it was, it was just the right time in my life and my career to do that. So it's been four years in and we've got a lot of growth in what we're doing and within the business. And I'm sure we'll talk about that a little bit more. Well, it's interesting. I think people would probably overlook that feeling that you had, that you're giving up this identity that you developed starting in college and through, at that point, your whole career as a golf professional at a golf club or a country club. And now all of a sudden you weren't going to be that. I, I could see that as being something to really overcome and, and try to come to terms with. I think somebody from the outside looking in might say, oh, well, yeah, now it's great. You run your own business, you make your own schedule, you're in charge of, you know, you're your own boss and so you're not dealing with weekends and you're not whatever, you know, people want to say are some of the challenges that traditional golf pros go through. But I, I could see giving that up that as a little bit of a hurdle. But it seems like now several years down the road, things are going great with GBN and it's giving you this opportunity to grow the business and kind of fulfill that entrepreneurial desire that you had. Yeah, that's great. Yeah, it was, it was very difficult. But it was just like you said, I mean, it did allow me some different opportunities in my personal life. And, and even just in my work life, I can tell you I don't work any less, you know, when you, when you own your own business, it's like 24/7 in your head. And my office is a very close by and I'm in it all the time and I'm on the phone...and you mentioned weekends. I mean there's phone calls with search committees and things like that I'm still involved with. But it's, it's honestly, it's been great. And I just hope that what I'm doing and the direction that we're taking it is being recognized that, that people get value out of it. And that was very important for me when I, when I took over the organization was to say, Hey I've got to increase the communication. I just have to make sure that it's always there that, that you always think about GBN as the resource. If you need anything, that's been a goal of mine is to really the membership of Gbn the value and the benefits would be around being a resource and being a place that you can go to get information that you can't get anywhere else. And we have a peer group of the top golf professionals across the country and we're trying to put mechanisms into place where it makes it easier for you guys to kind of be in that community and share that information. So, there's a lot of ideas, a lot of things that we brought to the table. But I think a mindset of mine is that I, I don't want to stand still. I never felt like that in my career. I just talked about, I was in a lot of different, a lot of different clubs. My wife and I, we looked at at one time and we had moved like nine times in eight years. I don't even know how that's possible. And you've got to do those things, but I just, I guess inside of me and there's just this growth mindset that I don't want to just keep doing what I'm doing and maybe that was part of it too, in that maybe I got to a point in my career where going to the club and I just didn't, couldn't feel or see, you know, the growth and I have a lot of respect for a golf professionals that can be at the same club for a long time. And that's what everybody wants. But I think I would have had a challenge with that just personally that, I don't know if I could have, if I could have been in a role for 15 or 20 years at a club, even though that's what everybody wants. But everybody has different makeups. Yeah, exactly. And I think it depends on what you kind of gained personally from the job and what your true passions are about the job. That for some people that works. Showing up at the same club every day for however many years in a row that they can do it and they get a lot of fulfillment out of that. For you, and for many, I think it's feeling like you're progressing and that you're constantly challenged. Some people are able to do that at the same club. Some people need a little change of scenery, but I think what the takeaway is in your story is, and that will hear over the course of our conversations with a lot of professionals, is that you were very proactive in and you took a risk. You know, it's, it's hard to reach your goals without taking any risks. And certainly there was, there was one with you jumping out of that traditional role into GBN. But you had a sense that you knew what you wanted and this was an opportunity and you jumped at it. So I think that's the real interesting part. Yeah. And there is a lot of risks there, when you go from having a position where you're getting your paycheck and you have your opportunities for commissions or lessons and all that, health benefits and things like that. And then, you know, my wife, didn't view this the way I did. I think initially, we were expecting our third child at the time or in the middle of buying a house at the time. And I come to her saying, hey I'm going to leave this to do this and she probably was like what? But... So a little extra motivation on your end, I guess! Exactly. Exactly. But, it's one of those things where you just, you make it work and I've always, I guess kind of found a way to make it work and it's been fun. Do you think that, going back to...you said something about you realized somewhat early on that, the service and those, a lot of times I refer to them as soft skills, were really what was important and what was going to make the difference and that maybe, with that understanding this was an opportunity for you to help spread that and give people more opportunities to learn that side of the business? You're talking about the service and hospitality aspect of it? Yeah. I really think that you have to have certain skills. You got to be good at a lot of things. You might be great at a couple. You can't be bad at anything, but to me every spoke on the wheel really came out from the middle part of it was service and hospitality. And then you've got whatever your instruction program or your outside services or whatever that is, it all has to revolve around that to add more value to the operation. And to me, service equals sales. I mean, that's where I just, I didn't focus on the little details. It was more about relationships and then getting to know and being able to anticipate what somebody needed. And that was part of the reason I developed that software program was that I realized at one point I couldn't do it all and maybe I think one of my faults was that I was more of a doer in the operation and that I as I grew into Head Professional and Director of Golf, that was tough for me to become more of the delegator than the doer. I liked being the doer. But that software program allowed me to be able to start tracking all this information about members and knowing more about their families and that was important to me. I wanted a mechanism to be able to let everybody know, right? We had a locker room guy at Kinloch named GT and GT just knows everybody, everybody's name, what they drink, and a lot of the great clubs have that individual. And I always thought about, I was like, man, you know, not to be morbid, but like what happens if he gets hit by a bus? It's like there's a lot of information that you're going to lose. And it's the same thing with every assistant that, that was under me was working alongside me was hey, that person knows they have a relationship with that person that I don't have. And they know a lot of things about that individual. And I want it to be able to get that. So, that was a real big part of that, for who I was just, it was all about that. And I think that's why I was successful. But, uh, you know, yes, I'm, I, you know, I view this as an opportunity to help that, um, but then also, you know, other aspects of what, what it is and what you need to do as a golf professional and continue to learn and look outside of golf. You know, I think that's important. And you mentioned that earlier about, who maybe some of the individuals that will be on this podcast will be people that aren't PGA professionals, but service and hospitality minded people, or, or business leaders that we can all learn from. I think that to me, I think I was probably this way, but now that I'm out of it, or looking at it from a different perspective, you got to look outside of golf and I think a lot of people have this mindset that hey, that won't work because we're, this is the golf industry, right? And yet you got to get outside of that bubble and outside of the box a little bit on your thinking. I learned a lot of that from, from Phil Owenby, I mean, you don't want to. I laugh about it when I first went to Kinloch and I've told Phil this, so it's nothing he doesn't know. But you know, the first year I was there I was like, wait a minute, I'm not sure that I get this. I don't understand what he's doing here. This isn't the way that I've always done things. And it was very perplexing. But after about a year I looked around, I was like, actually, he's doing it the right way and I think, you know, I want to do it that way. So I just kind of became a sponge and you know, and then I took that forward with me to other, to other clubs.

DK:

And that's really the benefit of jumping out into different situations is that you quickly learn everything that you don't know and everything that you thought you knew was the way to do it. All the sudden you know there are better ways out there which you find out I think as Assistants, you find that as you're moving through the ranks and move up from club to club, I know I had that experience as well. Jump into a new club when I thought I was, pretty well experienced and had a good knowledge base, but quickly jumped into a new situation all of a sudden was like, wow, I'm way behind where these guys are. And you know, once you catch up you're better for it. But you have to have to go through those challenges. So we're gonna stop right here with part one of our conversation with Patrick's. Either join us for part two, where we get into what's going on with golf business network, what's new at Gbn, and what services can they provide to help you in your career. I think you're going to want to hear this. There's a lot of great things going on at Gbn, so come back and join us for part two of our conversation with Patrick Seither

Speaker 1:

this was the getting better now podcast presented by the golf business network. Head over to itunes to subscribe so you don't miss an episode and be sure to rate and review while you're there. For more information, go to golf business network.com.