Manager of the Year finalist: James Washington
James lives at Bradford Golf Club – which means he has had knocks on his door at every hour from members – usually needing access to possessions.
Having been named manager of a highly regarded, top 10 Yorkshire golf club in 2009 at the age of just 34, James Washington found that The Bradford GC’s tired clubhouse needed updating to match an excellent championship course, but there were no immediate funds to pay for it. The club therefore launched a fund-raising scheme which was dependant on securing member loan note subscriptions of £366,000 – a very tall order! However, James took up the challenge and personally secured member subscriptions of over £200,000 in a few weeks. And simply because of his positive attitude, determination and excellent relationship with the membership, the whole refurbishment project went ahead and was completed on time and on budget in May 2012.
Subsequently, James has ensured that the club has enjoyed substantial financial benefit from the new clubhouse by more than doubling the number of functions it now hosts, including weddings, dinners, parties and music tribute nights. All in all, the bar and catering, which previously was not a major contributor to the club’s finances, made a £32,000 profit last year.
Hand in hand with the refurbishment, James has also established a much stronger customer service approach throughout the clubhouse operation. The kitchen has the highest five-star hygiene rating; costs, wastage, menus and wine lists have all been reviewed and improved; and an entirely new team of bar and restaurant staff has been recruited and trained via a government-funded service programme. However, James runs almost all the functions himself and loves giving ‘a warm Yorkshire welcome’ to members and visitors alike. He has also renegotiated virtually every service contract the club has – reducing costs by £24,000 per year.
James, who worked in the kitchens at Meltham GC in his teens before doing an economics degree and later becoming honorary secretary at Ryburn GC, has also played a lead role in successfully enhancing member services and maintaining membership levels in these challenging economic times. He has been central to the introduction of the club’s online booking system and a number of new member recruitment initiatives, such as a ‘Get Fit For Golf’ programme which gives relatively new lady golfers the opportunity to enjoy group tuition sessions and social membership for just £99.
“James’s outstanding team leadership and contribution to our club has been, and continues to be, well above and beyond the call of duty,” said Don Williams, the club’s president. “His tenure has certainly coincided with a period of sustained progress and considerable improvement.”