‘Let’s move forward with confidence and with positivity’

In his report to this year’s GCMA Annual General Meeting, chief executive Tom Brooke hailed the achievements of members over the last 12 months

This is my first AGM as your CEO and it’s certainly been a very busy, extremely interesting and exciting first 6 months in the role; and not without its challenges!

It’s been an unusual start under the current climate, of course, and most of my time so far has been spent working from home. So, I’ve definitely had excellent value from our Zoom account!

However, with the very worst of the pandemic hopefully now drawing to an end, I’m now very much looking forward to getting out to Regional Meetings and to other industry events to represent the GCMA and to meet with you, our members, to hear what you have to say and to do my very best to represent you as we move forward.

We have so many fantastic and hugely committed people involved within this association – the team at HQ, the Board, our Regional Managers and you, our members.

I’ve been made to feel very welcome and extremely well supported in my first months with the GCMA. Thank you to Brad McLean and the Board for putting their trust in me and thank you to the Regional Managers and the team at HQ for their support so far.

COVID-19

Looking back to 2020 and what a year it was – Whether we say a ‘year to remember’ or a ‘year to forget’ – I think for different reasons we need to try and do both. Whilst many of us have experienced extreme heartache that will never be forgotten, let’s do our very best to put behind us the high levels of stress and uncertainty that the circumstances caused for us all, both professionally and personally.

Let’s also learn some important lessons about what we are all truly capable of as individuals when we really are put up against extreme challenges such as this one. Let’s also remember the importance of physical and mental wellbeing and how greatly this has been highlighted in recent times.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the incredible amount of hard work and effort that our team at HQ, our Board and our Regional Managers contributed in order to support our members throughout the pandemic, particularly during last Spring and Summer when we entered the first lockdown. A big thank you to Gavin, Craig and Lianne, who were all very new to the team in March of last year when the pandemic first struck in the UK. It was a hugely uncertain time for them as it was, of course, for everybody, but they immediately turned their attentions to whatever needed doing to support our members and, from all of the feedback I’ve received, they did this remarkably well.

I’d also like to recognise the huge amount of work and effort of Jim Cunning. Jim was very much ‘ear to the ground’ 7 days a week and really did go above and beyond to ensure that you were kept up to date and informed with all of the latest developments throughout the pandemic.

Of course, a lot of this took place before I joined the GCMA in September. So it’s only right that I mention my predecessor, Bob Williams, who was responsible for leading the association during those first few months of lockdown in the Spring and Summer of 2020. Thank you to Bob.

So on to you, our members. As Golf Club Managers and Leaders, you were very much at the forefront of looking after the golfing population of the UK and serving your local communities throughout the pandemic, as well as supporting each other as colleagues and friends.

Just take a moment to consider what you achieved over the past 12 months. What you achieved as an individual; what you achieved as a leader; what you achieved with your team and what you contributed to the industry. Golf was the first sport to reopen last year and we all know what happened in terms of participation!

None of us have ever experienced anything like this in the past and, as Golf Club Operators and Managers, we were responsible for implementing countless safety measures and alterations to our facilities in order to operate with the health, safety and welfare of our staff, our members and visitors very much under the microscope and under hugely challenging circumstances. I think you can all be incredibly proud of what we achieved. Golf really did play a huge part in a lot of people’s lives during that time and you were instrumental in delivering that service.

Now, looking to the future, let’s really learn from those experiences and work together to ensure that we retain some of that growth in participation to enable long term, sustainable, success for our sport and for our industry. There’s a long way to go, but we’ve achieved some incredible results during what has been a particularly challenging time for everybody.

Professional Development and Member Services

In December, I delivered a presentation to members, during which I shared with you some details of our renewed Purpose, Vision and Values. Whilst there are a number of options that you as Golf Club Managers now have available to you for education, support and representation, I stand by our position of being THE association solely focussed on Golf Club Management in the UK. That is what we’ve always been and that is what we always will be.

The work we’ve been undertaking since I joined in September has been all about modernising our services and operations, our member benefits and education and becoming more visible and more relevant within the industry. Since then, we’ve gone on to launch our new Skillgate CPD learning platform, our new GCMA Perks at Work platform and our new Webinar series, under 3 banners: Inspire, Know How and Hot Topics.

In consideration of our efforts to become more modern and more relevant, it really is essential that we don’t just support operational and technical guidance for Golf Club Management; but that we also focus on wellbeing, leadership skills and personal development for you as individuals.

Our new learning platforms, as well as our webinar series and modules within the Essential Leadership Skills and Principles of GC Management courses, all deliver modules of leadership, personal development, mental health and wellbeing. Furthermore, In January of this year, we ran a series of Wellbeing Awareness workshops for you, and we’ll be offering another series of these workshops later in the year.

All of these services are included within your membership. I think that represents fantastic value for money. and a true commitment to you, as our members, to your personal development and wellbeing, as well as to developing the next generation of leaders within the golf industry.

Events

After a long wait, it’s great to see our Regional Meetings back on the agenda for 2021. We get started in the Midlands and in the South West at the end of May, as well as several more dates in June that I am very much looking forward to attending.

Then, on to our National Golf Day, also back for 2021. This year, it’s being held on Thursday, 5th August, here at Bristol and Clifton Golf Club. More details and booking arrangements will be shared with you very soon.

We’re also pleased to have announced that the GCMA Conference will be returning this year, taking place at Wyboston Lakes Resort in Bedfordshire, between 21st and 23rd November. We’ll be sharing more details of the programme, and how to book, in the coming weeks.

Business Partnerships

Our Commercial and Business partnership network is also expanding, and we’re now currently working with 19 business partners. Our relationships with our business partners have been developed to become more strategic and to ensure that the businesses we work with are aligned with our values and that these businesses are actively looking to get involved in supporting you and your golf clubs. Whether this be operational or technical guidance on golf club management, a product or service, or a personal benefit to you as an individual, every one of our business partners will be contributing positively to the association and to your experience with us.

Industry Issues

Beyond the pandemic, the golf industry as a whole is not without its issues. Whilst at this stage, no one can be sure of what will happen to participation in the longer term, there is no doubt that the post-pandemic economic climate will create some big challenges for us, both in terms of consumer spending AND supplier costs. We’re also facing some significant issues around sustainability, with energy and water consumption and use of chemicals on golf courses under increasing scrutiny and tightening of restrictions. We also have the recent and problematic launch of the new World Handicapping System, and the impending launch of the new Independent Golfer handicap project, both of which provide Golf Clubs with opportunities and challenges.

Our connection and active involvement with our fellow associations, the Home Unions, the R&A, and the APPGG has really started to progress. We really are getting more involved in industry discussions and this can only be good for the GCMA. On all of the matters that I’ve just mentioned as well as many others that will no doubt surface in the future, our commitment to you is that we are here to represent your views, as well as to keep you up to date with all the latest developments and information.

In doing this, we intend to do our very best to influence decision making within the industry, in the best interests of Golf Club Management and for the game as a whole. 

Positive Steps Forward

At GCMA HQ, we are a very new team. With the recruitment of Gavin Robinson as our new Professional Development Manager and Craig Cotterill as Partnerships Manager, along with Lianne Wheeler in Finance and myself having joined the team in September, all during 2020, there has been a lot of change for us, but with that comes a lot of fresh energy and renewed direction. We’ve continued to develop the team in recent months, with the appointment of Natalie McColl as our new Member Services Manager and Kerry Spring-Rice, also in Member Services. Our new team will soon be completed with another new recruit in Member Services due next month.

I am delighted to report to you, that as of April 2021, we have just, for the first time in 13 years, seen a year on year net gain in our overall membership numbers. We’re also seeing a far greater level of engagement with our education programme, particularly with the work we’ve undertaken to launch the new online platforms and webinar series, and we’re certainly getting more recognition and attention within the wider golf industry. So, let’s move forward with confidence and with positivity that we are an association that can truly make a difference and with the needs of our members at the heart of everything that we do.

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By GCMA Content Team

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