Golf depends on club managers – so give them the ‘credit and support they deserve’

GCMA chief executive Tom Brooke extolled the vital role of the golf club manager at the influential GolfBIC industry conference

Golf’s future success is reliant on club managers and the sport must embrace that, the GCMA’s chief executive has declared.

Speaking at the virtual GolfBIC conference, Tom Brooke said the “opinions and insights of golf club managers and operators can, and should, play such an important role in influencing the direction of the industry”.

He urged home unions and governing bodies to improve their links with managers and told committees they needed to give them the “credit and support they deserve”, while allowing them to get on with the business of leading the club.

“Golf club managers are key leaders within the industry,” he said in his presentation ‘The Growing Value of the Golf Club Manager’.

“They take responsibility for delivering and hosting the vast majority of participation at grass roots level. Golf clubs and golf centres is where golf happens.”

Brooke looked back to the work of his members over the last 12 months of the coronavirus pandemic, saying club managers and teams “went absolutely above and beyond and really showed their true leadership credentials”.

“That really should be recognised,” he added. “We think about all of the added pressures of staff welfare, of customer welfare – because of the ongoing coronavirus risks – at the same time as that huge increase in demand and footfall we were seeing coming through the doors every day for days and days on end, for the entire summer, and early autumn last year.

“That took courage. It took determination. It took an incredible amount of commitment and hard work. And now I think we can really grow from that. I think we really can support and utilise those individuals, and their skills, for the betterment of the game.

“We really need to turn what we achieved last year into long-term vision and sustainable success.

“So much of what we achieved, and what we need to achieve, will be reliant on delivery of golf clubs and leadership from golf club general managers. We’ve really got to focus on supporting and developing the workforce at a club level.”

Brooke said the value of the golf club manager was rising and expressed his view that they are under-represented in the industry.

“Our [GCMA] vision is to ensure that our members are more acknowledged as valuable and highly educated individuals and real leaders to take us forward.”

He remembered a recent conversation with a general manager, who told him he’d committed to three different strategic plans over the last five years as a result of changes in board and committee structures.

Brooke told clubs to focus in on the kind of facility they wanted to be, whether that was traditional private members, modern family club, or pay and play, and then trust the golf club manager to plot the way forward.

“I’ve urged committees and golf club boards in the private membership sector to really think about that, and to give your golf club general manager the credit, and the support they deserve,” he said.

“Equally, give them the leadership role and trust them to lead your club, and take that responsibility on”.

He concluded: “Allow them to lead your business – that’s what they’re there for. That’s how you will achieve success.

“To my colleagues in the in the governing bodies and home unions: really involve and engage with golf club managers and with golf clubs.

“The industry will be all the better for it. We must support and we must develop the key industry workforce of golf clubs if we’re going to achieve the success and the retention that we’re striving for. So that’s all about vision, it’s about collaboration. It’s about strategy, and it’s about leadership.”

To watch the whole presentation, click here.

By GCMA Content Team

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