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Gamechangers: Shannon McGeady is a Head Golf Professional That Puts People First

Gamechangers: Shannon McGeady is a Head Golf Professional That Puts People First

As an unparalleled technology partner for forward-thinking golf businesses, Lightspeed is celebrating Gamechangers in the golf industry. In collaboration with the PGA of Canada, we’re shining a spotlight on amazing Canadian golf professionals who are making a difference at their courses through instruction, inspiration and golf course management.

Introducing: Shannon McGeady

  • Professional Category: Class A Head Professional
  • Course: Tobiano Golf Course, Kamloops, British Columbia
  • Hometown: Regina, Saskatchewan
  • Fun Fact: Shannon was inducted into the Regina Sports Hall of Fame in 2019

When you speak to Shannon McGeady about her role as head golf professional at Tobiano, the first thing you notice is a sense of pride, gratitude and validation.

After committing so much of her life to playing golf at a high level, working at a variety of golf courses and learning the intricacies of golf course management, the opportunity to represent one of Canada’s finest public facilities is one she still savors after ten seasons on the job.

I have to pinch myself when I take in the views I get to look at, the quality of the golf course I get to play and the people I get to work with. I get goosebumps talking about it because I feel so lucky.

Of course, this is the kind of luck that’s earned, and it’s not hard to understand why Tobiano’s leadership wanted Shannon for the role. She’s engaging, she’s incredibly passionate about golf and she understands that good management—like good instruction—comes down to a love of working with people.

It’s a concept that hit home for her as she moved through the PGA program at Lethbridge College.

“Golf is a customer service industry and there’s a lot that goes into it, but without the people, there’s no industry. So I really resonated with the management and communication courses, with trying to learn how different personalities function, how different people work and how to get the best out of people. Trying to understand what type of learner the person is.”

Developing and championing this people-first mentality has been key to Shannon’s impact as a head professional both on and off the course.


On shifting gears from professional golfer to golf professional

A gifted athlete in her teenage years, Shannon made the choice to pursue competitive golf and devoted her time to playing at a high level. She turned down scholarships to other universities in order to attend university at home in Regina, gain work experience at golf courses and play in as many tournaments as she could.

It’s a decision that led to numerous wins—most notably at the Saskatchewan Women’s Amateur Championship in 2007.

Despite her successes, the daily grind of pursuing professional golf eventually started to take its toll.

I reached a point where golf wasn’t fun anymore. I really wanted to play well, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t make the next tournament and if I didn’t make the next tournament, how would I make money and survive?

The next step

Still in university, Shannon struggled to land on a satisfying career path and was uncertain how golf was going to fit into her future. That is until one of her mentors, a head professional named Brad Herridge, suggested she pursue a career as a golf professional via the PGA of Canada.

“It was something that I had never really thought about, but he put the bug in me and it seemed like a great idea. By the time I started the program, I realized that while I loved playing tournament golf, it wasn’t the life I wanted for myself.”

I started to ask myself how I could still make golf a part of my life, while making it fun and being able to contribute to it in some way. So I went the route of being a golf professional, not a professional golfer.

On the path to Tobiano and becoming a head professional

Drawn to British Columbia’s comparatively long golf season, Shannon flooded the province’s golf courses with resumes once she’d finished her program. After working and gaining valuable experience at golf courses in the BC interior, she achieved her Class A designation with the PGA of Canada.

She accepted the role of Head Professional at Tobiano in 2014.

“When I was offered the job, I was excited but also a little terrified because Tobiano has always had an amazing reputation and I had never been a head professional before. But the general manager was so supportive and it was an amazing opportunity. I’ve done everything I can to just continue to grow within it.”

At the time she was hired, Shannon was one of only four women who were head professionals in the province. Since then, BC has seen a significant increase in the number of women who hold prominent positions at all types of golf facilities.


On being a leader that puts people first

With a team of 30 reporting to her and responsibilities ranging from golf instruction and guest experience to golf operations and administration, every one of Shannon’s days is a balancing act. Successfully navigating all of these demands comes down to creating a culture where her team feels trusted, valued and counted on.

A large part of my job is managing people and making sure that they’re set up to succeed

She wants to ensure that they “feel empowered to make decisions and that they’re happy to [work at Tobiano]. Ultimately, [that flows] over into the guest experience as well.”

“I manage all types of people, from 17-year-olds to 80-year-olds and everyone in between. For me, it’s about helping those younger generations grow and bringing them out of their shell in this customer service industry, while also learning from the older gentlemen and ladies working here with us who have so much life and work experience.”


On her approach to teaching and golf instruction

This people-first approach is an extension of Shannon’s philosophy on golf instruction. For her, it’s about getting to know her students, understanding their goals and creating positive associations with the game.

“In a short period of time, I need to try to understand what type of learner they are and how best to teach them according to how they swing. I want that person to enjoy the experience so they want to come back to the golf course or go to the range to try and improve.”

She understands the power of that one swing thought that can unlock something and encourage a student to keep practicing.

Quote from Shannon on teaching and golf instruction

While teaching is still her “happy place,” Shannon embraces the responsibility of being Head Professional, the challenge of balancing various demands and the joy of watching her team excel.

“At this stage, I don’t want to be a full-time teaching professional because I really enjoy what I do. I enjoy taking control of things, creating different processes, working with my staff and watching them grow. I am so fortunate that I am surrounded by very capable people in golf operations as well as phenomenal assistant professionals.”

Photo of Shannon McGeady on Tobiano Golf Course


On creating the best possible customer experience

Shannon’s commitment to creating positive relationships with her staff, Tobiano’s membership and its guests is ultimately about providing the best guest experience—an experience that keeps people coming back.

“I think the way that we can separate ourselves from other facilities that we’re compared to is by really trying to enhance that guest experience. Did they feel good when they left? Did they enjoy the course no matter how difficult it can be to play? Were they shown where to go? Were they communicated with in a manner that made them feel special?”

It’s the little things that make the difference. With golf’s customer base growing since the pandemic, Shannon points to Tobiano’s decision to relax their dress code and add Bluetooth speakers to golf carts as the kind of small changes that can have a meaningful impact on guests.

“We want to find ways to keep the game enjoyable for new participants so they continue to come back.”

Quote from Shannon on how the game of golf is going to grow


On simplifying operations with Lightspeed Golf

It’s easier for Shannon and her team to provide a great guest experience when golf operations run smoothly. With Lightspeed’s golf management software, Shannon has a system that simplifies day-to-day tasks, from the tee sheet to the pro shop to the back office.

“We are a public facility and a lot of our guests have never played here before. Because Lightspeed is cloud-based, I can give my starter a tablet to go out on the first tee and he can see the tee sheet live, see any changes being made and greet guests with their name because he’s got it on the tee sheet. It’s a huge benefit from an operational standpoint in terms of knowing who’s on the course and where they are on the course.”

Lightspeed’s integrated payments and reporting functionality has also helped Shannon and the team at Tobiano unlock more efficiency and make informed business decisions.

Quote from Shannon


On advice for future golf professionals

Given the on-and off-course nature of her role, Shannon’s advice for those looking to make golf a career is two-fold.

On the course? Keep it fun!

“It’s so easy to get caught up in chasing those low scores and get down on yourself. The more relaxed you are on the golf course, the less pressure you put on yourself. The less tense you are when you’re trying to make that golf swing, the easier the game actually is. So the first thing I would say is just find the fun factor and don’t lose that.”

Off the course? Try to be as well-rounded as possible.

“I was fortunate to work at and experience so many different types of golf facilities. I grew up at a private club, I worked at a municipal club, I worked at a semi-private club, I worked at a public course. I worked at a resort golf course. When the time came to be a head professional, I was able to draw on these different experiences at different types of facilities to create something that I was proud of.”


On the future

As far as what’s next for Shannon, she relishes the opportunity to take Tobiano further and knows the club has even more to offer. That said, she’s also determined to make the most of the present moment.

“Tobiano still has a lot of room to grow. To be able to have been here as long as I have, seen what it’s come through, see where it’s going and to be a part of that is extremely exciting.

“But I also love living in the moment. I don’t get to control what happens tomorrow, I only get to control my attitude when I wake up every day, and how I want to handle things that come my way. So I focus a lot on being as positive as I can, rolling with the punches when I need to and doing everything I can to make a positive impact on the people I encounter day to day.”

Lightspeed Golf’s transformative features help golf courses deliver amazing customer experiences. To find out more, talk to one of our golf experts today.

To learn more about the PGA of Canada and their mission, visit pgaofcanada.com/about-us

To learn more about Tobiano and the services they offer, visit tobianogolf.com

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