In the second of our profiles of the nominees for the GCMA Manager of the Year Awards, which will be presented at GCMA 2021 Conference, we talk to those shortlisted for Newcomer of the Year…
The Newcomer of the Year Award is open to those within their first two years of club management.
The nominees are: Gary Beves, General Manager of Golf at Goodwood; Sam Foster, Club Manager at Whitby Golf Club; and Louis Booth, General Manager of Lincoln Golf Club
Gary Beves, General Manager of Golf at Goodwood, took over from Stuart Gillett in late 2019
You stepped into quite a high-profile position at Goodwood. How are you finding it?
I’m really enjoying it. I’m very grateful to Golf At Goodwood and the Goodwood Estate for giving me the opportunity to move from Assistant Manager to General Manager.
With the circumstances we found ourselves in with the pandemic, I very quickly needed to refine and figure out what type of leader I was.
We’ve learned some great lessons over the last 24 months and, while it might not have felt like it at the time, they will stand us in good stead for the future.
What have you learned about yourself as a manager?
It’s all about people and culture. We have a big team – one golf club spread across two sites. The Downs and Park courses are at separate locations.
Our course maintenance team are at a third location in the middle of the estate. I learned it was not about me. It was about being there for the team and supporting them in any way, shape, or form I could – be that just being there in very difficult times or pushing them professionally and developing them. That is certainly something I get the most enjoyment from and take the most pride in.
What pleases you most when you look back over that last couple of years?
The way the team have come through the pandemic and the experience we have still been able to deliver for our members and guests.
We have conducted a number of surveys throughout the pandemic and all have shown continual improvement, from the experience to the value the member has in their membership.
We put the member at the forefront of what we were doing. We were very open, honest, and approachable with everything we did.
We have a large membership base and we took the opportunity to put an arm around them and align the club with them even more.
Presumably, you’re looking forward to Conference and the Awards evening?
It’s been a long 18 months for all of us and we’re now starting to see our friends, peers and colleagues at other clubs. You can’t underestimate the value of being in a room with other delegates, sharing the challenges we’ve faced, sharing best practice and seeing people face to face.
Above all else, it will be great to come together and celebrate what the golf industry has achieved.
Sam Foster started out as a volunteer at Whitby Golf Club and worked his way up to become Club Manager. He’s now a year into his role…
Tell us a bit about your background in club management?
I started as a volunteer at the club to help run the bar, just at the end of the lockdown last year. At the time I was running a guest house in Whitby, but then a few months down the line my Dad sold the guest house and I just so happened to fall into a front of house manager role at the club.
Everyone seems to have liked me, I got on well here, and started taking on more responsibilities. They offered me a full time job as the Front of House manager and that very quickly turned into a role where I was doing a lot more and that’s when I was offered the Club Manager’s role. I’ve been doing it a year.
How are you finding it?
It’s not the easiest one I’ve ever done! I started in October and then come November we were in a lockdown and, after that, we had another lockdown. It’s been interesting, very hard work, and incredibly rewarding at the same time.
A little bit stressful here and there but, overall, I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly and I think I’ve found my little niche. I get along with everyone and I have loved being here. The fact that I live here always helps!
What would you say the highlights of your career have been so far?
The main one is seeing the transformation of the club from what it was. I’ve been project leader on quite a few little projects.
We’ve turned our old pro shop into a virtual golf studio. We’ve changed our old dining room into a new reception area and, most recently, there was the opening of our new café upstairs – called the Links Lounge. These improvements have transformed the club and made it much more welcoming place.
What would it mean to win the Award?
It would be massive. I was incredibly shocked when Tom [Brooke] rang me and said I’d been shortlisted. It’s something to recognise the hard work I’ve put in to try and change the club, plus [there’s] the recognition for the club – we had been on a downward spiral for many years. It [would be] a huge thing and just an honour.
Formerly Assistant manager, Louis Booth has been General Manager at Lincoln Golf Club for the past 18 months…
Tell us a bit about your background in golf club management?
This is my first manager’s role and I’ve been at Lincoln Golf Club since April 2020. I have had a steep learning curve with transitioning from a seasonal golf retail assistant at Marriott to a General Manager of a golf club within three and a half years.
Prior to this, I had played on the amateur golf circuit and studied at university both in the UK and Portugal. Starting a new role and my first manager’s job during the middle of a pandemic has brought several challenges.
How is the job going?
I’m enjoying it. I previously had more of a corporate background in golf at The Belfry and so it’s been rewarding to learn more of the club background and culture and how this has changed over the last 12 months.
We’ve been working hard to try and emulate the service and culture from a corporate background into a traditional golf club. We had to change many internal processes and be innovative in our ways of working to meet the needs of the modern golfer.
I’ve been very fortunate to fall on my feet at such a great golf club that is surrounded with great people and colleagues.
What would you say the highlights of your career have been?
The last 12 months have certainly been a highlight in how we have managed to handle the pandemic and come out of the situation with a foundation to continue to build upon.
We have managed to deliver a Trackman Swing Studio, a partially covered driving range, start our course alterations on holes 7 and 14 and extend our course irrigation system.
There is a real sense at the club that we are moving in a positive direction in how we operate and with the facilities we now have at our disposal. It really is an exciting time for the club and it’s great to hear the positive feedback these changes have made for our members and guests.
What would it mean if you won Newcomer of The Year?
It would mean a lot. It’d be great for somebody like myself who is at the start of their career but, more than anything, I think it would highlight the great team we have here at Lincoln Golf Club and how we have all pulled together to make positive changes in such a difficult period.
Delegate places and Breakout Sessions are filling up quickly for GCMA 2021 Conference at Wyboston Lakes Resort. Check out the full programme, book your sessions, and get all the information you need by visiting our dedicated website here.