Howard Williams reflects on the 2017 GCMA Conference.
Taking it all in at Mercedes-Benz World.
This was the seventh Conference I’ve attended as a member of the GCMA – my first was 2005 in Liverpool – and over the last few years we have got bigger and better. It is more professional. The quality of the speakers, this time, was exceptional. Linda Moir wowed everybody when she talked about customer service and you can’t get any better than the chief executive and the director of rules at The R&A.
This was my third or fourth visit to Mercedes-Benz World. It’s definitely got the wow factor, because of its size and facilities, and I do like cars. In my year as captain, there have been three major plusses for me. We launched the Diploma with our colleagues in the PGA and BIGGA and that has been an outstanding success.
Conference was a huge success and that only bodes well for the future of the GCMA…
Secondly, we launched the magazine. We are now on our ninth issue and everyone I’ve spoken to is impressed with it. Even those who aren’t golfers, who I have shown the magazine to, have found the articles interesting and realised the spread of the association now and the impact it’s having in the golf world. It has helped us develop as an association.
The icing on the cake has been the fact I am national captain in the year of a Conference. This Conference endorsed the professional approach we are now taking in all aspects, whether it’s a one-to-one helpline issue with a club manager or whether it’s trying to put somebody across the Diploma programme – and we’ve seen the variety of people who have been engaged in that.
We also recognised achievement within the Manager of the Year, Team of the Year and the Newcomer of the Year awards. There were many good stories, many different people who could fit into those categories, but the winners were extremely worthy and I am pleased that we had a more consistent approach to the competition this year then perhaps we have had in the past.
Our ambition, going with a biennial conference as we do at the moment, is to move each one forward to make it bigger and better.
Speaking very personally, I wish we could have reached even more golf club managers with the stunning content and inspiration served up at this year’s event. Generally, though, I do think the success of this Conference bodes really well for the future. The exhibitors I spoke to were very positive and I think that will only enhance our reputation as an organisation.
Our Conference organisers, Sovereign Conference, have been first class. We’ve been planning this for 18 months. There’s only a short gap before we look at where and when we hold the next Conference. We can’t wait to get started.