The interview… Richard Weeks

Alwoodley’s managing secretary tells Steve Carroll about leading the way at the renowned Leeds club where architect Dr Alister MacKenzie made his first mark on golf... How did you get the position at Alwoodley? The opportunity came up and it was a long interview process due to Covid and lockdowns. I think the first interview was the week before the first lockdown. Everything was finalised by the end of June and I started here in September. I’ve really enjoyed it. It is a change in the sense that I was brought up on the golf professional side and I am still learning the general management side of the job.  I’m still learning about everything it takes to run a golf club, from food and beverage through to health and safety, the staff you have, the relationship with the golf pro and the relationship with the members. I’m the first to say I’m not overly experienced in this role, but I’m happy to learn. So far, it’s been really enjoyable. I’m just looking forward to things opening up more and more now. Looking at your career, you’ve been at some pretty high-profile clubs and experienced both traditional and commercial environments. Do you think that’s made you a more rounded manager? Did it help secure the role at Alwoodley? I think it was advantageous when applying for this role. They were looking for someone that had a bit more commercial experience. And you’re absolutely right, those very traditional clubs in my early years as an assistant golf professional were just that. Then to be introduced to the proprietary sector, and to see how those organisations worked, was very useful and very interesting. Moving back across to a members’ club, to bring some of what I’ve learned into this environment, was very helpful and it will continue to be going forward as well. Alwoodley is the original MacKenzie – where it all began for the man who designed Augusta National. It must be quite a place to come and spend your time each day… I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet. [Until recently] I’d never seen the front doors open due to the pandemic but it is very special. The history is quite incredible and it’s something I’d like to learn more about and discover. The club has got much better in the last five to ten years of making a bit more about its history, the person that obviously created it and what he went on to do.   It has some fantastic links with the MacKenzie Society, which is an international society and quite a small group of clubs. Some of our members are part of that and go away and play at various MacKenzie courses each year and we have got very good relationships with them.  You must never forget that – how special it is for a non-member coming here for the first time with the history involved and the members understand that also. It’s an incredibly special...
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