Bognor Regis General Manager James Maclean claimed the most prestigious award in golf club management after transforming the West Sussex club during his tenure. But, as he reveals, there’s much more to come… The cheers that went up as James Maclean’s name was read out by GCMA Chief Executive Tom Brooke is testament not only to his popularity but to the job he has done as General Manager at Bognor Regis Golf Club. Any of the six nominees could have justifiably been named GCMA Manager of the Year at Conference – the stories revealed in this year’s list were inspirational and represented the best in practice across our industry. But take out the pandemic, look with a wider lens, and few could argue with the impact James has had on this West Sussex club. To say it is in his blood is to understate his deep emotional connection to the 130-year-old institution. Club chiefs entrusted him with the Secretary’s job the age of just 23, promoted him to General Manager in 2017, and watched him turn a facility that was failing and becoming debt-ridden into a full and thriving concern on the cusp of moving to an even brighter future. He has repaid their faith many times over and his accolade at GCMA 2021 Conference is hugely deserved. As he tried to take what happened at a glittering gala dinner at Wyboston Lakes Resort, we caught up with James to learn about how he has achieved such great things at Bognor Regis and what’s in store… James, GCMA 2021 Manager of the Year. Many congratulations… It's an honour and it is completely overwhelming. To be considered worthy of the accolade is a huge honour, it is a huge honour just to be nominated. To then make the shortlist and go on and win is incredible. Did it come as a surprise? I was really surprised. I think you could probably tell from my reaction on the evening. It was a huge shock. If you look at the profiles of the other nominees, and what they’ve done for their clubs, you could pick a winner from all of them. And as Tom Brooke said, looking back at the last two years for this industry and the world in general, every serving manager in the Association deserves the award. But there were some compelling reasons for your success, most notably the transformation that’s occurred at Bognor Regis during your stewardship. Tell me a little bit about what’s been achieved… I became Secretary in 2013 and then General Manager from [January] 2017. We had just under 500 members in total and we then reached capacity just after the first lockdown. When golf opened, by July , we had reached capacity and had a waiting list. That waiting list is nearly up to 100 now – so it’s grown massively with very little marketing in that time. We’ve hardly spent a penny on marketing. What we have done is vastly improve the condition of our golf course and the service levels within the club. Word of mouth has been our best marketing tool because members have...
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