Golf club management has raised its game with the launch of a major new educational drive, designed to heighten professional standards across golf and leisure establishments.
GCMA, the Golf Club Managers' Association (formerly known as the Association of Golf Club Secretaries), has joined forces with Buckinghamshire New University to deliver an innovative on-line training programme from January 2008, which provides a more clearly defined career path for the industry.
The new series of training modules is aimed at individuals currently working in golf club management, as well as those with aspirations to make that first or second career move.
Details of the scheme were unveiled this week at the GCMA Conference, and the initiative was welcomed by Kate Hoey MP, a former sports minister and guest speaker attending the event at The Belfry.
Commenting Ms Hoey said: "This new education programme reinforces the professional status of golf club management and signals to employers at golf and leisure facilities the need to consider the importance of further qualifications and continuous professional development within the industry. Together with the GCMA's new membership grading system, it will help clubs to recruit with confidence."
The educational programme which is delivered via the internet in conjunction with a series of residential workshops, features a series of six modules, which can also be undertaken on an individual unit by unit basis. The programme includes The Game of Golf, Golf & People, The Law & The Finances, Services for Members, The Club Office and Personal & Professional Development.
The course has been developed with an initial investment in the first year approaching £100,000 by the university and GCMA. Generous sponsorship has been granted to the GCMA by The R&A, England Golf and TORO. However, the cost to the student of undertaking the full course programme is expected to be in the region of £1,000 or £200 per module.
Commenting, Keith Lloyd, national secretary of GCMA said: "The skills and experience gained through undertaking the programme, will not only contribute to individuals' self-development, but will prove invaluable when seeking a career move within the industry.
"Golf management is often considered as a favoured second career and the flexibility of the programme will therefore be of particular interest to newcomers. Not only does the programme allow them to train and qualify for GCMA membership whilst in work elsewhere, but also at convenient times to suit their schedule", he added.
Work experience opportunities and the practical aspects of the modules can also be catered for by special arrangement through GCMA or Buckinghamshire New University.
Professor Chris Kemp, executive dean for the Faculty of Enterprise and Innovation at Buckinghamshire New University said: "At Bucks New University we are continually looking at innovative ways of delivering relevant education to new generations of learners through our work-based programmes.
"Our partnership with GCMA provides a winning combination. We can support golf club management employees with this new course which is designed to fit with their working lives, while complementing our foundation and honours degree courses in Sports Management and Golf Studies, and fitting with the focus of our university's sports strategy."
For further details on the online training programme, visit www.gcma.org.uk