Jeff Pianelli Head Golf Professional at Rivers Edge Golf Club
Dec 11, 2013
How did you achieve your current position?
Between 2006 and 2008, I worked my way up from outside services at the Members Club at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach to Assistant Professional at the Resort Club at Grande Dunes. I became very comfortable dealing with multiple tasks including staff management, tournament operations and merchandising. My past General Manager started his own company and gave me the opportunity to work for him. In 2011, I took the Head Professional position at Azalea Sands Golf Club in North Myrtle Beach. This was the first time I was given total responsibility of a facility and was the best learning experience that one could ask for early in his career.
What were the biggest influences on your career choice of golf?
My biggest influence was my family, who gave me full support to take a career path different from theirs. I'm proud to say my family has long been helping others achieve their goals through the insurance business, and that is what made the golf industry so attractive to me. The professionals in today's golf business have to do more than teach and enhance the facility for members and visitors alike. They are truly businessmen. Having graduated with a business degree, I felt the golf business was the perfect fit for me. I have loved this great game since I first learned to chip and putt with my father in Pennsylvania and now I can see how proud my family is of the path I have chosen. As a bonus, they get free golf now!
How did Golf Academy of America help you to achieve your goals?
The knowledge gained from time spent with all the instructors at the Myrtle Beach campus was as beneficial as any bookwork. The staff was open and honest with us from day one. They expressed both the pros and cons of different positions, company structures, contracts, interviews and even staff deals. The education was very hands-on and accurate. I could see some of the topics discussed in class at both of the positions I worked while still in the Academy. The academics assisted in the PGM process. Many of the topics covered were revisited in the PGA bookwork to attain full membership.
What advice would you give those wanting to get into the golf business? I would encourage anyone interested in the golf business to educate themselves in a few key areas: public speaking, business communication, finance and teaching. These are some of the biggest areas where I see employees struggle, which in turn results in a lack of confidence in these situations.
One thing that is expected of a professional is to be just that: professional. I would suggest that anyone interested be comfortable being clean and presentable at all times, even when not working. First impressions can last a long time, and we as professionals need to put more ownership on our staff and interns to learn not just the business side, but the lifestyle that is being a golf professional. I see too many students fall short in this pivotal area, which can hurt their future.
Lastly, show up on time, be prepared, communicate and have fun. We work at some of the greatest places on earth. Take the time to look around while on your journey and you will see the return daily.
Are you currently a PGA member or seeking membership?
Elected to membership October, 2013
If so, what level are you in the program?
Though it took four years for me to complete, actual work time was two years. I had to put off the bookwork for the PGM as my jobs changed. To assure I was staying on track, my PGA mentors Frank Coughlin and Mike Buccerone made sure that I was keeping up with each of my levels.