Meet the Manager: Frank Spenceley

FrankFrank Spenceley, honorary secretary at Cleveland Golf Club, in Redcar.

How did you get into golf club management?

I spent 35 years in the steelworks but I ran two or three golf societies a year. When I left there in 2010, I took over here as assistant secretary and it was just a natural progression. It was something that I felt comfortable with. Having been at the steelworks – which is hard work – I really enjoy this. As my wife says to me, every day : ‘That isn’t a job you do, that’s enjoyment.’ She’s right. I enjoy coming here and it’s never drudgery.

What are the challenges?

Dealing with someone and saying that I’m not happy with their performance isn’t easy for me. It’s about getting the right things across and making them understand – without using the wrong language – what I want to get across. That’s been the hardest part for me. I’d also never dealt with the public.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

Seeing people come to Cleveland Golf Club, have a good day and a good experience on the golf course. For me, there’s nothing better than someone coming in and saying ‘what a golf course, thank you.’ Giving us great recommendations and saying what they enjoyed, that the package has been great. That’s the most enjoyable part – seeing someone having a good experience and thinking that we have got repeat business.

What’s the one thing you would change about the job?

In my seven years, we’ve made a natural progression. We’ve gone from 40 to 50,000 green fees a year to 73,000. I thought that was great but, to move things forward all the time, I now need tranches of time where I can say to the members ‘that’s your time and this time is for the visitors.’ I spoke to Mike Wells at York, recently, and he told me ‘I have that time for visitors on a morning and that time for visitors on an afternoon.’ I never thought I’d get to that position but I’d now like to know what I’ve got – and the members know what they have got – and that’s the thing I would like to change. I didn’t think busy would cause trouble. But busy does cause trouble. You don’t realise, until you’ve got it, what it actually means.

“If you want things to go right, you have to put the time in. Things don’t happen by chance. That is something big I have learned”

What’s your favourite golfing memory?

Going to Pennsylvania, in 2009, for the Walker Cup with my son. I have family in America and Chris Paisley (in the GB&I team) was there. Rickie Fowler was playing for the USA and his mother was walking in the fairways and she gave us a golden lion badge. My son was probably only 13 or 14. He was into golf but to see Rickie Fowler’s mother giving things out – it was just an incredible thing to get. It was at Merion, too, which is a great place.

You are clearly a keen golfer. What’s your handicap?

I’ve gone back to six in the last two years. I was down to as low as 3.7 but I am just spiralling backwards. The only reason is I am that busy and I never get time. When I first took the job on I said ‘every day I am going to go and practise.’ You can count the times on two hands I have actually gone and done that. Most days, I stay in the office and get work done. We’ve got a lot coming up with our 130th anniversary celebrations and, if you want things to go right, you have to put the time in. Things don’t happen by chance. That is something big I have learned. You have got to keep driving the business and so much has changed in the last seven years. You have got to get in people’s faces to do that. People don’t just come anymore. Social media is driving a lot of business – and definitely our business – massively.

ClevelandWhere do you see the role of the club manager in 20 years’ time?
I don’t know what is beyond social media. The internet is a massive thing and is driving everyone’s businesses. I do all my shopping on the internet. I just don’t go to shops anymore. To me, it’s going to be digital. It’s going to be whatever comes after the internet.

Tell us something we don’t know about you?

I was a boyhood soprano. I sang for a group in Redcar called the Clare Singers. I lived at the top of Redcar and I used to go. I used to enjoy it. But I used to walk past a big playing field and all the lads would be like ‘Frank, are you coming?’ I used to get money in my pocket from the Clare Singers but my mother got a phone call:‘Why isn’t Frank coming any more?’ She went one night and there I was playing football on the field.

Get In Touch
To contact Cleveland, call 01642 471798 or visit


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