With David Holmes,general manager at Prestbury, in Cheshire
How did you get into golf club management?
I started working at my previous club, Royal Ashdown Forest, in East Sussex, as a barman. It was a temporary job for the summer when I’d graduated from university and my best friend was the chef there. I loved working in the golf club and I’d always wanted to work in a sporting environment.
The golf club ticked all those boxes.
A position became available to become a trainee book-keeper and from there I became assistant secretary and then secretary – one of the youngest in the country – when my predecessor retired. So it was right through the ranks – from barman to manager.
What do you like most about your role?
It’s incredibly varied and you never really know what you are going to have to do from one day to the next. You quite often find you had certain tasks that you thought you would try and complete and something crops up and you are having to juggle various different things. Ultimately, it’s a place where people come to enjoy themselves and spend their leisure time and you are trying to help them enjoy themselves. Golf clubs are beautiful places as well.
What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
That’s a difficult one. I’ve been given lots of good pieces of advice over the years that I have used to form my approach to the way I am and work. I would like to think I’m always fair and balanced in my views. I very rarely give knee-jerk reactions to things and I like to give myself time to make decisions.
If somebody comes to me with a problem that I don’t know the answer to I won’t try and guess. For me, personally, it isn’t necessarily one piece of advice but more the things I have picked up from lots of different people along the way that have formed my style of management.
How do you feel about the state of golf at the moment?
There is a lot of negative press out there which is unfair. I think the mainstream media loves to bash golf and jump on the first possible excuse they can – whether it is something over sexism, such as the issue over single sex clubs that hit the front pages of the newspapers.
It was such a small minority it wasn’t really fair on the game as a whole but that’s what the mainstream media like to do. There’s also lots of negative press about the popularity of the sport. In my experience, we’ve seen a bit of an uplift over the last couple of years. I’m not saying that’s the case for all clubs but I don’t think it is as bad as some people make it out to be. I think it is down to us in the industry to promote the positive side of golf and it is down to us to change the story. Don’t let those who want to knock it be the only people whose voices are being heard. We need to be promoting the positive aspects of the game, such as the health and social benefits. It is down to us to change the narrative.
What opportunities exist for the GCMA?
The biggest area has got to be education and I believe it is something the GCMA have worked hard on in the last couple of years.
They have obviously introduced various new initiatives, such as the Diploma. It is crucial if we are going to be successful in our roles that we have got a professional body that can support us along the way and help people that are not just new into the industry but have been in it for some time.
The more opportunities there are for learning the better. You are never the finished article. You are always trying to improve, trying to further yourself and the only way to do that is through education.
That isn’t necessarily sitting on courses – sometimes it is networking and having the opportunity to chat to managers and secretaries and that is something the GCMA has always been fantastic for. I was encouraged to join as soon as I became an assistant secretary and was attending meetings from the age of 25 and 26.
I was probably half the age of the other people there but they all welcomed me, took me under their wing, and I felt like it was a big family. Everyone is happy to help and you can always pick up the phone and speak to somebody else. The GCMA have been very important as far as I am concerned and I would strongly recommend any golf club manager to become part of it.
Get In Touch
To contact Prestbury, visit prestburygolfclub.com