Getting to know: Leighton Walker

Cirencester’s General Manager doubles up as one of the golf industry’s most influential podcast hosts... If you’ve never tuned in to one of Leighton Walker’s podcasts, seriously where have you been? Golf Club Talk UK, which he co-hosts with Eddie Bullock, has become a must-listen in the world of golf club management and the popular show has recently partnered with the GCMA for a monthly Insights episode. But Leighton’s also at the coal face, as the General Manager of Cotswolds club Cirencester. He’s able to see the industry from both sides of the fence and offers a unique perspective. We sat down with him to talk about Cirencester, Golf Club Talk UK, and the state of the industry as whole... You wear two hats in the industry, as a golf club manager and a respected podcaster. Let’s discuss your club life first – tell us about your career... I’ve been in the industry in this country for about 16 years now, preceded by a couple of years in Adelaide, and I’ve been managing typical golf clubs around the country. I started in proprietary clubs - I worked for Burhill for a little while as well as a stint with Crown - and then I moved into private clubs, which is probably where my passion lies. I’ve managed clubs like Chippenham and Burford, and now Cirencester, where I’ve been for a couple of years. I’ve transformed the way my career operates a little bit now, and I’m moving away from the typical five day a week General Manager role. I’ve set things up so that I’m doing four days a week, which allows me a bit of flexibility outside of that to do the podcast. I’ve a great role at Cirencester, and I’m mentoring a couple of people - bringing along an assistant manager who, one day, will hopefully be ready to step into my shoes, or move on somewhere else. Without sounding like I’m getting old beyond my years just yet, I’m probably at the point where I’m starting to give a little bit back. It’s not just about my career and my own ambitions, it’s about helping other people and, with the podcast, it’s about getting information out there to managers and people working in the industry. With the changes in working practices during the pandemic, there has been a lot of talk about shorter working weeks - how does your model look in practice? Funnily enough, initially I was supposed to model it on three days a week. But with the pandemic, it never quite got there and I’m stuck on four! It might be that I still move to three at some point, and it might even be I look at other opportunities with other clubs, but currently it’s all done over four days a week. I have an assistant manager who does three days, so we generally have pretty good coverage across the week. He is a teaching pro as well, and still does a bit of teaching,...
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