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Golf business in full swing

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Kate de Lautour

Golf business in full swing

By Kate de Lautour

Golfer Andy McNair made a smart move when he left the gruelling tour circuit to purchase a Hastings based golf business in 2007. At the time business was booming but as discretionary incomes fell, the former PGA player had to stay on top of his game to keep the business above par.


 Andy McNair was playing the PGA circuit in Australia when he took a break to work at Sharpies Golf Range in Hastings. The tour was a “hard slog” and by Andy’s own admission, only the very best make any decent money on the tour. So, when the opportunity arose in 2007 to buy Sharpies, he grabbed it.

They were good times for a leisure business, with golfers clamouring to buy custom-fitted golf gear and belting out thousands of balls on the driving range, after a day at the office. Andy had little experience owning and operating a business but he managed to wing it.

Business plateaued after the GFC and Andy found himself doing everything, apart from working on growing the business.

“I didn’t know which way to move - I was mowing the grass on the driving range; I was even spending loads of time picking up the balls.”

Last year, a breakfast information session with the Icehouse changed all that and Andy joined the Owner Operator programme.

“The Icehouse has really taught me how to delegate, how to concentrate on moving the business forward and to focus on the projects that are actually going to generate more income.”

A maintenance person has been hired to manage the grounds which has freed up time for Andy to work on new initiatives and focus on customer’s coaching needs and requirements.

A new archery range has been introduced, proving a hit through December for work functions and weekends with  gate numbers at the range  as a whole, increasing ten per cent on the previous December.

There’s now a baseball cage within the driving range and Andy has plans for a shooting range to be open in April or May plus a cricket bowling machine, to make the most out of the available land.

“There’s a really big demand for a cricket machine in Hawke’s Bay; it would be open all week and be perfect for all ages.”

Internet sales have impacted on retail figures in the on-site shop, however the buying power of the Sharpies group helps to provide stock at competitive prices.

“Golfers have been buying online a lot but there’s a realisation now that gear won’t always be right if it’s not fitted properly to suit the individual, so we are starting to see a shift back to custom-fitted clubs.”

Staff numbers have risen to six, with champion golfer and PGA trainee Rodney Donaldson joining Andy on the coaching team.

In December more than 3000 people visited the driving range but Andy is on a mission to grow that figure throughout the year with an opportunity to open a café as a bonus for visitors.

The ICEHOUSE is holding a free information breakfast on Friday 31st January, 8.30am – 10.30am at the Hawke’s Bay Opera House. RSVP essential to [email protected] or 09 3086242