You can feel the passion coming out in Lee Hunt’s voice when you talk to him, one of the most dedicated PGA Professionals in Australia who is really setting the bar high for club professionals in this country. After only four years at Bankstown Golf Club, in the West side of Sydney, and some serious investment of time and money, the club has a burgeoning junior program, an elite training centre, personal trainers and a very healthy and satisfied membership base.
Playing his amateur golf at Pacific in Brisbane, Hunt says he feels ‘very fortunate’ to have done his traineeship under Merv Uhlman at Oxley Golf Club, Brisbane (1998-2001).
“Merv was there for 47 straight years. That is a long time to be in any job, but particularly one that doesn’t pay that well. Merv saw something like 19 General Managers go through the club during his time and a host of new staff and committee members. It taught me a lot. His attitude was about the members, communicating with them about what you do….and to be passionate about your work and you will be alright.”
After several years as a touring professional on the Von Nida Tour, the Australian Tour and the Gateway Tour (US), dozens of top-5s and pro am wins, Hunt decided his passion was as a club pro and he and his wife packed up their life and relocated from Brisbane to Highlands Golf Club in Mittagong. Three years later, he decided he wanted an even bigger challenge and he took on the commute to Bankstown on a daily basis…an hour each way from the Southern Highlands.
Bankstown has been known for its strong elite junior golf program and perhaps that attracted Hunt initially, but what he is turning it into is something far more attractive to the average golfer. Having spent $150, 000 on an indoor/outdoor facility, complete with high-speed cameras, lights, trackman technology and with the support of the board at Bankstown, Hunt has seen his little pro shop expand its offering to the point where he has had to hire another full time staff member, PGA Professional John Burrough.
Recently Bankstown and Hunt started a relationship with ‘Healthy Drive’ and their chief performance trainer HT Tran. He is a registered Cert IV Personal Trainer with Fitness Australia, a Titleist Performance Institute Golf Fitness Instructor and certified golf specific performance instructor. HT has worked with numerous PGA coaches, including Glenn Whittle (Former NSWIS head coach), Brad Mitchell (Aust. Junior Academy), Paul Latham/Lorien Scott (BoonieDoon), and Scott Davis (Head of golf tuition at Moore Park). Healthy Drive is aiding the membership at Bankstown by having the physio side of their golf life in focus. It focuses on helping golfers of all ages play and feel better using 3D technology and traditional physical golf movement analysis and training.
“We are getting older members coming to us and seeking their first golf lesson of their life and they have been playing for 30 years. We have older members who just want to do whatever they can to secure their physical health going forwards and others who really want to improve their game. One notable story is Dennis Beaumont, who at age 71 has reached the lowest handicap of his golfing life and is finally in A Grade, after golfing for 50 years. He just had his first hole-in one as well. Success stories like that are all down to creating an environment that is welcoming and where the members can learn at their own pace. Our facility definitely is not solely for elite golfers.”
With strong relationships with US Kids Golf who have recently made Bankstown a certified ‘elite’ facility in Sydney and Jack Newton Junior Golf, the junior program at Bankstown is clearly sparkling. Hunt’s team have more kids aged 6-10 than the older kids aged 15-18; this sets the club up really well for the future.
Hunt is booked out for months in advance because members can’t get enough. His ethos has attracted more members to the club, boosted the junior program and increased club-fitting sales. He is very active on social media and has a strong retail/marketing acumen, which is aiding the clubfitting business. He says he only joined the On Course buying group a year ago because he “wanted to be more competitive and to be comparable to the big box stores with price, so that I can pass that on to our members. I am really passionate about our membership base and being a good club pro first and foremost and want to thank everyone for their support.”