Meet Paul Terras, Head Professional at Goswick
Paul’s well-stocked pro shop will likely be your first port of call upon your visit to Goswick.
A STEADY PRESENCE, 30 YEARS AND COUNTING
One of the first people you’ll meet when you visit Goswick is Paul Terras, the club’s head professional. But why wait until then when, thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can learn all about him from the comfort of your home — or the immediacy of your mobile phone?
Recently, Paul sat down with Goswick member Dan Miller for a conversation over a cup of coffee.
DAN: It feels like you’ve been here forever. I’ve heard you used to have matches with James Braid.
PAUL: Ha! I have been here a long time, but not that long. I started in April 1991, so nearly 30 years. I got married on the Saturday and started here on the Monday.
DAN: So, still at Goswick and still married. To the same woman.
PAUL: Yep. I guess you could say I’m a big believer in long-term relationships. Of course, it helps if you choose the right spouse…and the right golf course.
DAN: I’d say you’re two-for-two on that front. Goswick is a great golf course, thanks in large part to that James Braid guy.
PAUL: There is no better course in Northumberland, that’s for sure. And, I know I’m biased, but I truly believe it’s one of the best links courses in the world. It’s just not as well-known as some of the others on that list.
DAN: How did you get your start in golf?
PAUL: One of my earliest memories was watching Jack Nicklaus in the Open at St Andrews in 1970. I remember he was on the 18th tee and he took off his jersey and drove the green and lifted the claret jug. I was only five-years old at the time. I grew up in Thornton in Fife, so we were just 25 miles from the Old Course.
And then I remember watching the Masters on telly. It was always so captivating.
But as far as playing golf? That didn’t come until much later. I was always good at sports but was more into football. My father played golf, so he tried to get me interested in it. I’ll never forget one of my first swings. My dad was teeing up balls for me and I was so keen to hit them that I whacked a ball before he could pull his hand away. Broke a couple of his fingers. I was about 14 at the time. Then I hit balls around a park with some friends. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I played a round on a course.
I’ll never forget one of my first swings. My dad was teeing up balls for me. I was so keen to hit them that I whacked a ball before he could pull his hand away. Broke a couple of his fingers.
DAN: You now teach the game to others. Did you have a mentor as you were taking up golf?
PAUL: Not really. There was a member who was a pretty decent player, so he gave me a few pointers. The big thing when I started was that, like most people, I had a big slice. It wasn’t until I figured out how to draw the ball that I started to get better at it.
DAN: So, an arduous process of trial and error, right?
PAUL: Truth be told, golf came pretty easy to me. I wanted to play in competitions, so the club started me out with a 19 handicap, then cut me to a 12. I shot a gross 71 on that for a net 59, which really got the members going — and immediately led to a reduction to 7 and then 5. At that point, they had me put three cards in and, after that, I was down to a 2.
DAN: All in one year?
DAN: That’s amazing. And kind of annoying for those of us who suffer in silence. But never mind that. Did you have dreams of playing golf professionally, on the tour?
PAUL: Well, I became an assistant pro at Dunbar Golf Club in East Lothian when I was just 17. I didn’t fancy uni. So I decided to go for the golf. I wrote a letter to the secretary of the Scottish PGA and asked him, ‘How do you become a professional’? I followed his recommendations. My first interview was with a club in Edinburgh, but the head pro there said I was too young and naïve for the city. So I took the job at Dunbar. I did my training there for three years then played on the Tartan Tour for five years. Paul Lawrie was on that tour at the same time. But when I got engaged to Shona, I decided I’d had enough of the traveling around and wanted to get a head pro job. And, as I said, that led me to Goswick.
DAN: And you’re still here. How has the game, and your role in it, changed over the past 30 years?
PAUL: In the 1990s there was a big boom in golf. A lot of new courses were built. Callaway started the whole technology revolution in equipment. You had guys on telly in their prime, like Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Ian Woosnam. And, of course, a bit later you had Tiger. Goswick benefited from that with a lot of visitor play, which made it possible for the club to develop the course. And that led to the R&A choosing us for Open qualifying. That was a big shift. Things have been a bit different since the world financial crash in 2008. But the club is still strong and continues to move forward.
Recently, I was on the practice ground giving a lesson and there were two visitors next to us hitting balls. The one chap says, ‘I was on the M25 yesterday, late for a meeting and I was so stressed. Now, I’m out here in the nice warm weather and I can feel all of that stress coming off me. This place is so great. It’s a different world’.
For me, the big change has been that I don’t give as many lessons – though I still enjoy it – and now focus more on managing visitor bookings, competitions and handicaps. I’ve also made changes in the shop. We still carry some equipment, but now put much more emphasis on clothing and accessories.
DAN: Well, you seem to accomplish a lot in a small space.
PAUL: People are always surprised when they come in. The shop is very well stocked. It just doesn’t look that way from the outside as you walk through the door.
DAN: Of course, there’s much more to your role than simply selling golf stuff, right?
PAUL: Absolutely! The way I look at it, the pro shop is for most people the first port of call at the club. Whether you’re a visitor or a member, my main concern is that you have a great experience.
Here’s a story that sums this up perfectly. Recently, I was on the practice ground giving a lesson and there were two visitors next to us hitting balls. The one chap says to the other, ‘I was on the M25 yesterday, late for a meeting and I was so stressed. Now, I’m out here in the nice warm weather and I can feel all of that stress coming off me. This place is so great. It’s a different world’.
That’s what I want people to take away with them. Goswick might not be the easiest place to get to. But it’s well worth the journey.
DAN: I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the chat, Paul.
PAUL: Any time. Cheers!