Editor’s Notes: This article was written by Nick Clemens, Founder of Provision Events. 

My mum was the first person to describe me as an entrepreneur.  Age 9 I would go around the house and their campsite collecting all the unwanted items in a suitcase and sell them at a local ‘boot’ sale.  You see, I come from a very small island off the south coast of England.  At just 380km2 the Isle of Wight doesn’t have a strong job market, so you are forced to create your own opportunities.

That work ethic has always stuck with me and I have been self-employed since the age of 24.  As a qualified PGA Professional, I spent 12 years coaching golf at numerous locations, helping to develop teaching academies all over the world. Teaching 8 1 hour lessons a day over those years slowly golfed me out!  I enjoyed teaching, but I got a buzz out of running and managing a busy business.

About the same time my fellow PGA Professional and childhood friend from the Isle of Wight, Konrad Brochocki, was also looking at ways to move away from coaching.  The innovation that created the spark that ignited us both was, in fact, an inflatable golf net!

Neither of us had ever seen one before and instantly knew that there was something in this.  Our original plan was to design, manufacture and sell them. Unfortunately, without the contacts and manufacturing knowledge, this proved to be a complete non-starter.  What we ended up doing was using some of these nets and combining our teaching experience to establish a countrywide Golf Development Roadshow.

The idea we had was to take golf to places where you normally wouldn’t expect to see it.  We approached brands we knew were supporting grassroots golf and much to our surprise, after a lot of hard door knocking, we found ourselves being supported by Nike and HSBC.  The English and Welsh Golf Unions gave us their support and Volkswagen gave us a van! Off we set on our County Show road trip without realizing just where it would ultimately take us.Over the course of 18 days, we gave 4,811 free golf lessons.  By the time we rocked up at the HSBC MatchPlay at Wentworth we had 13 nets and spent 4 days teaching golf to hundreds of people who were paying to come and watch the event.  That’s when the real light bulb moment came:  Golf needed to give its fans a richer experience and sponsors needed a way to engage with them.

In 2004, Provision was born on the back of that realization and 1,000 events later we have delivered interactive fan experiences at The Olympics, The Ryder Cup, The President’s Cup and The Open Golf Championship as well as the majority of PGA and European Tour events.  Chances are that if you’ve been to a golf event in the last 13 years, then you’ll have hit a ball at a Provision Events activation!

From those early days, we have built a business that employs several PGA Professionals and has facilities in the USA and UAE (Dubai) as well as our headquarters back at home on the Isle of Wight.  We’ve never limited ourselves to golf and have delivered fan engagement programmes in other sports including rugby, tennis, and football (soccer) and continue to grow our network.

The challenging thing about our business is that, as someone once described it, both taps are on but the plug is out. We’re constantly pitching to new and current clients and nothing is definite until the ink is dry.  Ask me what we’ll be doing this time next year and the honest answer is that I have no idea.  That might scare some people, but it fascinates me and gives me the drive to carry on doing what we do.