Profile: GCMA Manager of the Year finalist, Gordon Forster11th March, 2013 by Alistair Dunsmuir
Gordon Forster is the general manager of Abbey Hill Golf Centre in Milton Keynes
Gordon Forster, at the age of 37, might be the youngest finalist this competition has ever had, but he has actually been managing golf clubs for the last nine years.
And if that wasn’t enough, he also has more than 20 years of experiences of excelling when it comes to golf – the scratch golfer who has five caps for Scotland’s schools was granted a four-year golf bursary by The R&A while studying at the University of St Andrews, where he was given a Blue, a rare award for a consistent and exceptional performance.
Fortunately, for Abbey Hill Golf Centre in Milton Keynes at least, he opted to go into golf club management rather than become a professional, and, following two years managing Bushey Hall GC, moved to Abbey Hill in 2006.
The venue, owned by BGL, has become, according to one of the competition judges, ‘the future of many golf clubs’. Its professionals teach at any three of about 70 schools every week, which has helped see its junior section rise from effectively nothing to more than 100 in the last seven years.
Schemes such as giving juniors free clubs and hosting the annual Milton Keynes Golf Festival for schoolchildren have also helped, but the jewel in the crown was the creation in 2011 of the separately-branded 18-hole Pirate Island Adventure Golf, a giant crazy golf course festooned with obstacles – including a ship – that a second BGL venue has now built. It cost about £700,000 to create but has been so successful that it has been used to introduce hundreds of juniors to golf and is expected to pay for itself within the next five years.
“Two neighbouring clubs went into liquidation at the start of 2013,” said Gordon. “We had to invest to improve and the members love the pirate island – it’s brought in revenue which has been invested in the irrigation system and on clubhouse improvements.”
“Abbey Hill has gone from strength to strength,” said Hugh Knowles, Gordon’s boss at BGL. “Gordon achieved a record operating profit in 2011, despite the major projects going on. He’s developed Abbey Hill into one of the country’s premier pay and play golf centres.”
The Manager of the Year competition is sponsored by HowDidiDo and Tonic Golf
The winner is announced on March 27, 2013 at Walton Heath Golf Club. He or she will receive a trip for two to Rioja in Spain as part of the prize