The interview: Chris Spencer

Chris Spencer had one of the most sought after management jobs in golf – secretary at North Berwick. But he made the move to another historic venue, Glasgow Golf Club, to become general manager. He tells us why he’s embracing a new challenge... You’ve been in post for just over six months. How have you found it? I’m enjoying it very much. It’s a very different challenge but that was part of the attraction of taking the role. It’s one of the oldest clubs in the world – the 9th oldest – so there’s a lot of history and tradition that goes with that. But they are facing some significant challenges ahead if they want to continue being one of the premier clubs on the west coast. I suppose you’ve been asked by a lot of people why you moved from North Berwick? It wasn’t an easy decision to make but there were a number of factors which played a part, one of which was to move nearer to our children and grandchildren. I’d been at North Berwick for nearly 11 years and there was the realisation ‘had I done as much as I could and would a new challenge be what I was looking for?’ I think North Berwick has achieved a huge amount – not only in the time I was there but also leading up to that – which has firmly established its place in the top 100 in the world. I am very proud of what I achieved but the time was right to move up and do more work at a strategic level. Glasgow Golf Club gives me that. I enjoyed getting my hands dirty but I felt it was time to move to another prestigious golf club and to do things at that strategic level. People think ‘I must be bonkers.  Why leave?’ but I left North Berwick with my head held high, proud of what I achieved, and I still have a huge amount of feeling for the place. It’s nice to be able to have run two very old, and prestigious, golf clubs. Glasgow consists of two clubs – Gailes and Killermont – and it seems they serve very different markets? They are two very distinct clubs. Gailes is a club within a club. There is no requirement at Gailes to wear a jacket and tie and we take visitors. Killermont is members and guests only. There is still a jacket and tie culture and it’s very traditional.  At Gailes, you are surrounded by Western Gailes, Troon and Prestwick to name just three. Where do you see the club’s place in that market? Our research has shown we are in the top 40 golf courses in Scotland but we’re only the 7th best course in Ayrshire. When you look at that from an overseas perspective, and especially a North American perspective, we’re not going to attract huge amounts of those golfers unless they happen to have heard about the place. We have found that 75 per cent of our market comes from the UK, 20 per cent from Europe and five per cent from America. Whether that would improve if we went up the course rankings and got into the top 30, and maybe 5th in...
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