A look back at…conference

205 delegates, 32 exhibitors, one conference – our biennial bash at Mercedes-Benz World was a huge success. A host of top-notch speakers from the world of golf and business dazzled amid the backdrop of finely tuned engines.

BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter and Le Golf National general manager Paul Armitage kicked off proceedings on Sunday night before the Conference proper got under way with an inspirational presentation from Linda Moir.

Having led the massively successful volunteer Games Makers at the 2012 London Olympics, she had a packed house buzzing with ways to improve customer service at their own clubs. She was followed by some excellent speakers, including The R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers. The devil was in the detail, meanwhile, during a variety of break-out sessions, which had something to appeal to all managers.

From putting together a successful food and beverage operation, to the dark arts of political intelligence and how to navigate the personality jungle, there was much to be learned. The glittering Golf Club Management Awards took centre stage on Monday night and director of golf at Calderfields, Jamie Cundy, shared the limelight. He was presented with a certificate after becoming the first graduate of the Diploma in Golf Club Management. His celebration was followed by that of St Ives’ general manager Gordon MacLeod, who was named Newcomer of the Year.

Pyle & Kenfig were awarded the Team of the Year prize and an emotional Amy Yeates, director of golf, spa and leisure at Fairmont St Andrews, was the recipient of the

Manger of the Year award. Who can’t wait for 2019?

GCMA chief executive Bob Williams hailed a “very positive” conference at Mercedes-Benz World but pledged the improvements would continue with 2019 in mind.

He said he was thrilled with how the three-day event was received by delegates and suppliers. He added, though, that there was always room for development. “The feedback that we’ve had has been overwhelmingly positive,”he explained. “But there’s room for improvement – I am always aware of that. “

“Linda Moir was the highlight of the Conference – such an inspirational, witty and fascinating lady. It was a very enjoyable and enlightening experience.” Beth Williams, Hindhead GC

Williams added: “I believe there’s certainly room for more golf club managers to come in and share a learning experience. There’s a little bit of me that’s disappointed we don’t get more of our members to one event. I totally understand when people say they can’t take the time out of the office – or whatever reason. But if we talk to those 200 golf club managers that were there, not many will have a bad word to say about it.”

Williams said Linda Moir’s speech on customer service was among his highlights but added watching delegates come together to share knowledge was his greatest joy.

“The networking of golf club managers is always a big plus,” he said. “I talked about communities in my presentation, and you look around the rooms and you see lots of communities forming. “There will be people at conference who will stay connected for a long time.” Williams also hailed the calibre of candidates for the Golf Club Management Awards and was thrilled at the development of the process from two years ago. “Two years ago, we didn’t get it right. This time, I think we got it absolutely spot on,” he said.

“The thing that really does inspire me is the quality of people that were nominated for those Golf Club Management Awards.

“The quality of the managers, the teams and the newcomers was excellent. It bodes well for golf clubs when we know there are people like that at the helm.” With planning under way for 2019, Williams said a group was already evaluating and looking ahead. “We’ll start to look at what we got right, and what we got wrong, and how we can move it forward for the next stage.”

It was another very good Conference and it was quite right to mix up the location and style given that we are a diverse community. I thought the keynote programme was book-ended very well with Linda Moir and Martin Slumbers. “The key takeaway was we have a lot of work to do on GDPR and can’t afford to leave it to the last minute or hope that Brexit will remove the problem altogether.” Paul Beresford-Green, secretary at Royal County Down

By Marie Taylor

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