Call for clubs to employ younger staff18th October, 2013 by Tania Longmire
The head greenkeeper of a leading golf club has said that private members’ golf clubs will continue to struggle as long as their committees stick to a mindset that only older people can manage their clubs, and fail to employ younger staff.
Mathew Cropper, who is 24 and is the head greenkeeper at Dodington Park Estate in Gloucestershire, is looking to manage a golf club and has a string of suitable qualifications. However, whenever he attends interviews he finds the clubs are not interested in taking him on because they want someone at least 20 years older as a manager.
“When I enter the interview stages most committees seem surprised that I’m not 20 or 30 years older,” he said, “and have an attitude that I’m far too young to comprehend the workings of a club, relinquishing what I have achieved.”
Cropper has worked as a greenkeeper at golf clubs, including Wentworth and Chipping Sodbury, for eight years and has achieved significant greenkeeping qualifications plus put himself through distance learning and evening college courses on business management, bookkeeping and accounts, employment law and social media marketing for businesses. However, despite the impressive CV, committees of struggling clubs have been unwilling to take him on – something he thinks is a mistake.
“Golf clubs are promoting the game to the younger generation, but it’s seen by them as an old man’s game,” he said.
“This is where clubs need a facelift and adopt a youthful employment structure that will see them into the future and generate a family-friendly feel.
“Is experience and the more mature personnel the safest option rather than the right one?”
Ryan O’Connor, general manager of Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club in Lancashire, who was 27 when he first became a golf club manager, responded: “I already had deep operational experience by the time I became a manager – not just the certificates. I think sometimes people forget how competitive the market is, and a proven track record means a lot.”
Earlier this year Gordon Forster, 37, was named a Golf Club Managers’ Association ‘Manager of the Year’ finalist. He has been managing golf clubs since he was 28.
However, very few golf clubs have managers in their 20s or 30s.