Manager of the Year finalist: Emma Clifford
The manager of West Essex Golf Club once created the ‘Alphabet Golf’ programme, which teaches young children how to hold a golf club through dance.
You can take the girl out of West Essex Golf Club but it seems that you cannot take West Essex Golf Club out of the girl.
Emma Clifford first played on the driving range at West Essex when her dad joined the club when she was seven. Later, she would join the Ladies’ European Tour, which she played on for nine years, before working in a number of roles, from the PGA professional to membership sales, at various golf clubs, where she helped grow their membership sections by adopting an inclusive and friendly approach. Today, she’s back at West Essex – as the club’s secretary manager.
Under her leadership, the club now offers free coaching to adults and beginners every week, which helped it secure GolfMark status and become a Get Into Golf centre in 2013, and has proved very successful in membership recruitment. Furthermore, through proactive marketing that includes the club running golf stalls at village fairs, working with local schools, quarterly business networking meetings, a strong presence on social media – notably Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (the club is also this year hosting a social media course) – a membership promotion, a website redesign and, above all, a monthly email newsletter that Emma taught herself how to build and design, the club brought in a record 115 new members last year. And she works just as hard to retain them once they’ve recruited.
“We interview every potential member,” she said. “If the prospect is a senior, for example, we get them to come in on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday, when the seniors are here, and they’ll meet them, and can be married up with similar fellow members.”
Mother-of-three Emma has also cut the club’s costs through detailed negotiations with suppliers – insurance has been reduced by nearly £5,000 in the last two years and gas by £2,500 in the last year.
“The business has had a massive turnabout in membership numbers and turned financial losses into good profits during these desperate years for golf clubs,” said member Dennis Swain. “Indispensable is the best way to describe her.”
“Just one word for this remarkable person,” added the club’s professional, Chris Baron, “incredible!”