Man­agers have a lot to learn

Inside Golf - - Opinion - DavidNew­bery Se­nior Writer

IT was a rou­tine phone call to a golf club man­ager that should have been dealt with quickly, but in­stead it turned into an un­nec­es­sary marathon.

The rig­ma­role left me be­wil­dered and con­vinced some golf club man­agers still fail the “com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the me­dia” test.

The num­ber of phone calls to gen­eral man­agers that re­main unan­swered is stag­ger­ing. It’s the bane of all golf writers. The frus­tra­tion started af­ter I had come across some in­for­ma­tion about an in­no­va­tive idea a club had in­tro­duced to at­tract peo­ple to its club.

I wanted to re­port about it be­cause I thought it would be ben­e­fi­cial.

To cut a long story short, it took five days and five phone calls to get the man­ager on the tele­phone.

“Ah, you have been leav­ing mes­sages for me to call you,” he said when an­swer­ing my fifth call. “What can I do for you?”

His ques­tion made me think of John F. Kennedy’s fa­mous quote made at his in­au­gu­ral ad­dress im­me­di­ately be­fore tak­ing the pres­i­den­tial oath of of­fice.

“Ask not what your coun­try can do for you – ask what you can do for your coun­try.”

Sub­sti­tute the words “coun­try” with “club” and you’ll get my drift.

By his own ad­mis­sion, the club was strug­gling and needed new mem­bers and he asks “what can I do for you”?

“I had a group of 100 in­flu­en­tial peo­ple who were in­ter­ested in hold­ing a cor­po­rate day at the club, but be­cause I hadn’t heard from you they have taken their busi­ness else­where,” I said tongue in cheek. I re­mem­ber top sports ad­min­is­tra­tor John Ri­bot warned golf clubs about staffing in 2004.

“Get the front of­fice right and ev­ery­thing else will fall into place,” he told del­e­gates at a golf in­dus­try con­fer­ence. “If you don’t change or chal­lenge your­self you won’t get there.”

In 2011, it’s clear there are still golf club man­agers that have a lot to learn – not only about com­mu­ni­ca­tion, but other is­sues. The good news is help is just a phone call away. Later this year, Golf Man­age­ment Aus­tralia is hold­ing a na­tional con­fer­ence for its mem­bers.

Learn, Lead and In­spire is the theme of the con­fer­ence, which is shap­ing up as a not-to-be­missed ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence.

Of­ten­times it is less-skilled man­agers who be­lieve they al­ready pos­sess all the ex­per­tise needed to be a good GM and will give the con­fer­ence a wide berth.

Mean­while, the pro­fes­sional club man­agers will jump at the chance to im­prove their knowl­edge.

Of course, savvy golf club board mem­bers will in­sist their man­agers at­tend the con­fer­ence.

At­ten­dance should be com­pul­sory for all golf club gen­eral man­agers as a bet­ter-in­formed man­ager can ul­ti­mately help the club’s bot­tom line through the in­tro­duc­tion of in­no­va­tive ideas picked up at these con­fer­ences.

Who knows, the con­fer­ence could help res­cue some of the golf in­dus­try’s un­der-strength GMs. FOOT­NOTE: GMA has se­cured a num­ber of top guest speak­ers for its con­fer­ence to be held at Mel­bourne’s Crown Prom­e­nade Con­fer­ence Cen­tre from Oc­to­ber 3-7. To find out more, log on to

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