Meet the manager: Wimbledon Common’s Emma Pope

Wimbledon Common Golf Club’s General Manager discusses her club’s unique local rule and huge diversification of membership... The main thing people may know about Wimbledon Common is that golfers must wear red. How did that rule come about? In the 19th Century the London Scottish Rifle Section used to train on Wimbledon Common and they wore red jackets. In 1865, when the riflemen started playing golf on the Common, they started the tradition of wearing red tops. When the course was opened to the public it was decreed that red tops should be worn so golfers can be clearly seen by the rest of the people using the Common. If it’s mandatory for golfers to wear red, presumably there’s no need for a lot of colours in your pro shop? Yes, you’re right! Our shop does looks very red. One of the challenges we have is finding garment suppliers who stock a range of red tops; we need polo shirts, knitwear and particularly waterproof jackets for both men and women. It has been quite a struggle, but we have found ProQuip extremely helpful. Just to break up the sea of red, we do stock some colours that our members can buy and wear when they play at other clubs or away matches. It’s such an idiosyncrasy, but it must help the golf club standout? Everyone around Wimbledon knows that golfers wear red when they play on the common and the public like the idea a lot as we are very visible. It’s real safety plus. Tell us a little bit about Wimbledon Common Golf Club... It’s a very friendly club with 300 members - 65% men and 35% women. When I started as the clubhouse manager 12 years ago, I think there were 15 lady members but we now have over 80 so we have changed our gender profile quite a lot. There are now a lot of matches and competitions where both men and women play together. The club is fully integrated and has been since ladies started playing in 2005. When I joined the windows of the bar were made of frosted glass so no-one could see in, such a shame as the bar overlooks the Common which is so beautiful. We’ve just finished a quick refurb of the bar so it looks much brighter and more welcoming. A couple of years ago we moved the Pro Shop and the club office to a new ground floor space. This has improved communications within the club as well as giving us a super modern Pro Shop. Other managers might like to know how you’ve expanded the number of female members eight-fold... Until 2005 there were no lady members! When we opened to ladies we were a very small group. The club’s newly formed marketing committee’s research told us that women found golf clubs very intimidating, so we launched a ladies academy programme. The package is a combination of lessons from our Pro with members of the club acting as...
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