The Golf Club Manager's Association (GCMA) is celebrating 25 years of running its Introduction to Golf Club Management training course - a period that has seen at least 1200 delegates attend the weeklong residential training course, which was most recently delivered at Aldwark Manor, near York.
The eighteen delegates attending the 89th instalment of the course came from a wide variety of backgrounds - some were newcomers to the profession of Golf Club Management, others existing managers, secretaries or assistants, who wanted to bring themselves up-to-date with current management practices. There were also a number of golf industry professionals looking to move into club management, and several more currently working outside the industry, but looking for a career change.
The course, which costs £995 to attend, is delivered by a mix of serving managers with many years' experience and industry specialists from outside the association. It gives a grounding in the fundamentals of Golf Club Management and offers context of how the office works, and its challenges, and is invaluable for understanding the industry, and the complexities, challenges and frustrations of the role. It also highlights the difference between running a golf club compared to other businesses.
The celebration marks the end of a landmark year for the GCMA's education pathways, after the launch in October of the ground-breaking Diploma in Golf Club Management, in partnership with the PGA and BIGGA. A nationally accredited, flexible qualification, it is the first industry-specific education option of its kind, and continues the GCMA's work to ensure recognition of the professionalism found within the golf club management industry.
John Crowther led the association's (known then as the Association of Golf Club Secretaries) first training opportunities - shorter courses known as Schools for Secretaries - in the early 1980s, but the training course as it is known today was formally launched by Ray Burniston in December 1991.
The course was held at Moor Park in Hertfordshire for five years, before finding a permanent home in Weston-super-Mare, where the association was based, for fifteen years until 2014. Since then the course has rotated around the country, with this year's courses running in Harrogate, Bristol, Henley-in-Arden, and Aldwark.
The 2017 courses will take place in Harrogate on 15 - 17 January (a cheaper 3 day condensed course, aimed primarily at greenkeepers, as part of BTME), Gloucester on 20-24 March, and Warwickshire on 9 - 13 October.
Niki Hunter, GCMA Education Co-ordinator, explains the sustained popularity of the course: "The fundamental challenges of golf club management haven't changed since that first course in 1991 - managing staff, negotiating governance structures, legal compliance, running a food and beverage operation, presenting a golf course in excellent condition - so we haven't changed the main themes too much. We have ensured our speaker line-up is as qualified as possible, and that we keep on top of any developments in the game, such as new legislation, or the introduction of new topics like digital marketing."
"Delegate feedback is almost universally excellent, and we are seeing no decline in golf club managers' appetite to learn, so we look forward to the next 25 years!"
To find out more, visit www.gcma.org.uk/education.