Whilst I always try to start my report on a positive note, unfortunately on this occasion I have just heard the news that one of our great radio and television entertainers, Terry Wogan has passed away. Many of us grew up listening to the extremely laid back tones of Terry every morning – and on occasions his reference to tales of his exploits on the golf course always created an air of interest. His now famous longest televised putt at Gleneagles is well documented and has been shown numerous times as many tributes are paid to him. For me, golf has lost one of its greatest supporter and media ambassadors.
Whilst talking about ambassadors it is worth mentioning the following story.
As many of you will recall the GCMA held their National Golf Day in 2014 at England’s oldest golf club – Royal Blackheath GC. Prior to the golf we were fortunate to be offered the opportunity to view the club’s history within the clubhouse museum.
Many of you will have recalled the Henry Callender painting, which has gazed down on the honourable members of Royal Blackheath GC for more than 150 years.
Dressed in his finest captain’s uniform beside a 1790s putter, the club made the decision to part company with both the painting and the putter which were sold at the world famous Bonhams auction house in December last year. Before the painting was sold, Rod Baker, a past captain of the club who liaised with Bonhams over the sale, emphasised the items would only be sold with ‘great regret’ and to secure the beautiful 17th century clubhouse for generations to come. The painting was sold on December 9, 2015 to an anonymous buyer for £722,500, including premiums and taxes.
The portrait was previously described by Peter Alliss, the former professional golfer and commentator, as a ‘world-famous piece of golfing memorabilia’ while the auctioneers hailed it an ‘extraordinary rarity’.
On a more positive note, 2016 was kicked off with a most encouraging few days at the annual BTME in Harrogate. For the second year we hosted a shortened three day introductory training course from Sunday to Tuesday. This occasion is not a residential event and is really aimed for those who work in greenkeeping. Interestingly we attracted delegates from as far afield as Norway, Germany and Sweden – as well as a good mix of people from all around the UK. With six students presently working in the world of greenkeeping and three PGA professionals, there appears to currently be a trend running through the majority of the training courses.
This trend obviously bears a reflection of the present educational qualification ‘Diploma in Golf Club Management’ that is coming to the final stages of construction. As we continue our work with PGA and BIGGA towards the delivery in April, it certainly created a certain amount of interest to those who visited the GCMA stand at BTME.
I understand that seven thousand people passed through the BTME exhibition this year, which in every sense of the word has to be deemed a successful event. Albeit it still astounds me that more golf club managers do not take the opportunity to take a couple of days out of their schedule and pay a visit, there is a lot to be learnt from a vast array of like-minded people all in the same place at the same time.
Ironically after leaving the world of greenkeeping and lots of shiny tractors, my next port of call was to visit the East Midlands regional meeting – the venue: The John Deere Factory in Nottingham! What a great initiative to hold the meeting here, as it brought a good crowd of managers together who were treated to an informative presentation from the John Deere representatives as well as full tour of the facilities. I was astounded to hear that John Deere is 197 years old and has only had 9 CEO’s in that time.
Still on the subject of education, we will be hosting the next Introduction to Golf Club Management training course in Bristol this March. If you have any potential managers working with you, or even staff who want to further their education, please feel free to contact the Education Co‑ordinator Niki Hunter.
Looking ahead to the spring, and hopefully the better weather, the AGM is not far away. This year we are most grateful to Thorndon Park GC in Essex for hosting the event on Thursday, April 21. For the first time we will be offering members the chance to play for the Captain’s Cup – a pairs stableford competition for which the present Captain Clive Hadley has donated the trophy.
For those of you who are not able to make the AGM, I look forward to meeting up with you at one of the regional meetings this year.
By Bob Williams