St Austell’s Club Manager joined the Cornwall club during a lockdown. But the gates have always been open to his plans to push the facility forward... James, how did you get into golf club management? I originally started as an assistant in the pro shop at West Essex Golf Club. I had the ambitions of being a professional and then realised I wasn’t going to make that level. I enjoyed working in the golf industry and wanted to go into another area. A position came up where I could work within the office team and on the hospitality side as well. I took on that role and it all kind of fell into place. By the time I was 23, I was the Secretary. I was there, in total, for about eight years and then, in November 2020, I moved back home for me, which is Cornwall, and took on the Club Manager position at St Austell. Was that an easy decision to move back home having forged your career somewhere else? It wasn’t an easy decision. But I’ve got a young child and all of my family is in Cornwall. It makes sense for them to grow up with family around. The opportunity came up and I was excited by it and went for it. Tell us a little bit about St Austell... It’s a parkland golf course and it’s got a lot of potential. It’s been one of those golf courses that just needs someone to grab it and go with it. We’ve got a really good committee and we’re in a position where we can really move forward and develop it and invest in the facilities and everyone has the same mindset. You changed jobs during lockdown. That’s out of the frying pan into the fire, so to speak... It was difficult. I started on November 17 and basically met the members on December 3 – or whenever we came out of that lockdown. And then we went into lockdown again just after Christmas. I basically had about three or four weeks of meeting people, and saying hello, and then I didn’t see anyone for three months. It was strange but it meant I got a lot of the work I wanted to do done very quickly because I didn’t have to deal with the day-to-day as we weren’t open. It meant we changed a lot of the processes and basically streamlined the organisation and how we operate. I got a lot of admin stuff done, which I wouldn’t have expected to complete so quickly had we not been closed. Back in April, was it a curious experience? You’re settled in and with the members too – they are getting emails and so on – and yet you may not have known many by sight. Then you are right into the golf season... Every golf club says they’re a friendly welcoming golf club. They all do. But St Austell is genuinely one of those courses where everyone...
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