Is there a crisis in golf club staffing?

The stark situation in recruitment and retention was laid bare by GCMA, BIGGA and England Golf at BTME... “We’ve got a big issue in front of us”. That’s how GCMA chief executive Tom Brooke described golf club staffing at a prestigious conference. Speaking at BTME, where he was a panel guest in a discussion on the challenges of recruiting and keeping staff in the industry, Brooke said: “We can talk as much as we can about member retention, and golfer retention. But if we don’t have great people leading golf clubs – as golf club managers, hospitality staff, head greenkeepers and greenkeeping teams – there won’t be anyone there to provide for the increase in golf that we’ve seen over the last two years.” Brooke was talking about the issue with BIGGA chief executive Jim Croxton, England Golf’s chief operating officer Richard Flint, and Rhett Evans, chief executive of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. He said the GCMA was seeing double the amount of recruitment advertising coming through their channels compared with two years ago. “Without staff retention, we are not going to achieve the member retention targets that we’re setting out for. It’s an issue throughout golf clubs,” he explained. “I’ve had numerous conversations over the last couple of weeks with golf club managers, and others in the industry, about the challenges but also some of the solutions they are trying to find and trying to navigate their way through. “Certainly, at greenkeeper level, there is a noticeable gap, but we are seeing the same at club management as well.” Brooke added that two interesting factors had arisen out of the pandemic, the first being those managers who had been looked after by their clubs and now felt a sense of loyalty to them and didn’t want to risk moving where that might not be the case. “But equally more concerning for me is the amount of club managers just walking away from the industry, or walking away from their clubs, because of mental health issues, wellbeing issues, lifestyle challenges, and wanting to find a career that is less challenging, less demanding, with less pressure on personal time and less impactful on mental health and wellbeing. "That’s just becoming so much more of a focus for us, as an employer, employee, representative, and should be for any employer in any business. “That’s something we need to be a lot more aware of and, between the home unions, ourselves, we need to be really talking to club boards, club committees, and club owners about how they factor that into their employment strategies and training and development opportunities." Leading the conversation, Croxton said employment statistics showed that people, particularly in the 16-24 age bracket, were being far more selective about where they work. He said at the end of 2021, there were 1.2 million job vacancies in the UK – “a huge amount” – and said there was a certain issue of supply and demand. “We’re now in a...
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