After 82 Annual General Meetings as an unincorporated association, the GCMA’s first as a limited company provided attendees with an insight into the future of the association, rather than historically reporting on the events of the last twelve months. Set in the splendorous surroundings of Copt Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands, it was fitting that the GCMA’s incoming National Captain Clive Hadley had only recently retired the previous year as Managing Secretary of this extremely popular golf club.
In the absence of the Association’s charismatic President JR Jones, Chairman Michael Hoare stepped in to Chair and oversee the business of the day. With an audience of over 70 members, Finance Director Gary Steele, from Clandeboye GC in Northern Ireland, delivered the annual accounts, highlighting his progressive train of thought regarding the decision to write off both the association’s revaluation reserve and a large amount of depreciation. That decision, combined with the costs of £9,700 that were incurred whilst moving the headquarters to Bristol and Clifton GC, the Association returned a deficit for the second year in a row. However, Gary advised that following a membership drive that is planned to be launched this month, he is confident that these results would be reversed in 2015.
The report from outgoing National Captain John Smith was next on the Agenda, and he made it quite clear from the start that this verbal rendition would bear very little resemblance to what had been printed in the pre-circulated Annual Report. Following the usual solitary attempt from his comedy repertoire, John continued to amuse the membership with stories and anecdotes from his other previous captaincies. Entertaining tales of being a school dinner monitor, and an exceptional recollection of all the names on the school register, rounded off his speech. However, his main claim to fame will no doubt remain as a National Captain who retired undefeated from the GCMA’s annual international matches – no pressure there then Mr Hadley!
On that note, Clive was warmly welcomed in his new role, allowing the new Captain a chance to say a few words, before announcing his nomination of David O’Sullivan as his successor in 2016/17.
With the historical reports taken care of it was time for the Chief Executive Bob Williams, and Digital Communications Manager Mike Hyde to enlighten the membership about the revised strategic direction of the Association.
Following the incorporation process that took place this time last year, the Board of Directors have spent their first year in office preparing the ground work for the delivery of the Association’s longer term strategic plan. Bob advised that the four main headings of Membership, Communication, Education and Information were the cornerstones of a strategy to progress the longer term objectives.
Within these main areas various proposals – including the change of membership administration and regional governance – were presented, and the rule changes that were to be discussed at a later stage in the agenda were explained;
- Membership – A member will no longer need to be proposed and seconded – membership enquiry forms are now available online, with potential membership applications being dealt with in minutes rather days, which has been the previous situation.
- Membership – The Unattached and Retired membership categories will be removed, and replaced with a ‘Member’ category, whilst serving members in post will be categorised as ‘Full Members’.
- Regional Governance – The roles of National Committee Representative and the Regional Secretary to be replaced with a single Regional Manager.
- Regional Governance – The Regional Managers will meet two or three times a year and become the focal point for all regional matters. They shall be appointed by the Regional committee for a period of 4 years albeit elected annually.
- Regional Committee – Each region will have a committee of no less than three people of which at least 50% shall be members in post.
- Regional Meetings – Each region will deliver no less than two educational/business meetings per year.
With the membership being asked to show their approval at the end of the meeting, it was the turn of Mike Hyde to take the stage and deliver the Association’s communications strategy. Having only been in post seven months Mike has been instrumental in delivering the new website, which went live in January, as well as the weekly information enewsletters that are now coming out every Friday from HQ.
The next stages now fall into two areas – the first is to survey the GCMA’s own members to understand their views of the service they receive for their subscription. This survey, which was sent to members at the beginning of May, will provide the Association with factual information about its services, to help shape future plans.
The second stage is increase membership numbers, starting with the circulation of a membership invitation offer to non-members, which was sent out at the end of April.
With the presentation drawing to a close the appointment of Jim Cunning was highlighted. Bob explained that the Association is endeavouring to develop the information channels that are delivered to the members on a regular basis, as well as reviewing the documents that form the online reference library. Jim has now taken on this role of providing information and researching the knowledge that GCMA managers require.
In conjunction with ‘Information’ area of the plans – ‘Education’ was not very far away. Looking to the future again, members were advised of the well established residential introductory training courses that are now being run around the country. With courses already hosted in Harrogate and Bristol this year, more are planned for York and the Midlands over the next 12 months.
Remaining on the Education theme, the Chief Executive announced the proposed educational pathway being progressed with the PGA and BIGGA. Looking to be launched in January 2016, this online blended learning will be set against National Occupational standards and delivered through an accreditation body to Foundation degree level. Looking beyond the launch, plans are already in the pipeline for a Degree level qualification. It was explained that there is still a lot of preparation to be carried out but all are confident that the programme will launch at the beginning of the New Year.
As Bob began to sum up the future of the Association, the announcements of the, only recently confirmed, keynote speakers for the conference in November did stir some interest from those who were starting to feel the lure of the golf course.
The final acts of the day were the confirmation of the reappointment of Directors Eddie Bullock and Gary Steele, the membership’s approval of the rule changes regarding membership, and the appointment of Regional Managers.
So with the first AGM of the incorporated company successfully over it was time to grace the fairways. Incoming Captain Clive Hadley breathed a huge sigh of relief when his opening drive split the fairway, and everyone who played enjoyed a great afternoon’s golf, with kind weather. Finally, thanks were offered by all involved to the staff of Copt Heath – in particular Tony Moon (Secretary) and Martin Elliott (Captain) – for their fantastic hospitality throughout the day.
By Mike Hyde