Is this the UK’s youngest golf club manager?
Beverley and East Riding Golf Club, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, is one of the oldest golf venues in Yorkshire. It is situated on The Westwood, which is common land, and offers the golfer a challenging experience. The course itself is a mixture of heathland, parkland and links. It has stunning views of Beverley Minster, The Racecourse Beverley, dogs out for a walk and the occasional grazing cow.
For golfers that discount a club on common land, this course is the exception that proves the rule. Beverley Borough Council owns the land and charges the club a minimal rent for the land that the clubhouse is situated on. But the land is managed by the Pasture Masters and the club is charged a fee based on a calculation that references the area of grassland that would have been available for cattle to graze safely, had it not been cut for fairways and semi-rough for the benefit of the golfers. Apart from anything else, this means that the land is kept in exceptional condition and shows great empathy with its environment.
Enter what may be the youngest golf club manager in the UK. Richard Reynolds is a local lad who learnt his golf as a junior at the club. After university, Richard took a cultural exchange post with Camp America teaching golf to youngsters in the USA. Whilst in America, he was offered a job, but decided to return to the UK, and to his home town of Beverley. He soon got back into life at the club and spent the next three years as the assistant professional. When the manager at the time retired early, the professional took over the reins running the club, and Richard remained his assistant. Last September, the professional returned to running his shop full time, and Richard was appointed manager at the ripe old age of 28.
The club is controlled by a committee of 16 who, as at most clubs, are generally retired members. “I think at first I was thought to be too young. They might have felt that I would not be able to honour the traditions of the club, but they knew me and agreed to appoint me as the assistant manager, and after a few years decided to place their faith in me by making me the manager,” said Richard. He is keen to keep his handicap at five and wants to ensure that the demands of the job do not drive it in the wrong direction.
Richard is responsible for all aspects of running the club and appreciates his luck with his staff. “I have fantastic help in the office. Angela has been looking after the accounts and invoicing for the past 11 years. She knows everything. Every club should have an Angela! She keeps me on the straight and narrow. The professional, Alex Ashby, is an enormous help with running competitions and helping members with their every need. His assistant, Michael Helyard, has just achieved a full exemption for the Euro Pro Tour and helps to raise the profile of the golf club.”
Richard continued: “The greens’ staff are headed up by a +1 golfer who could have played for Yorkshire. He manages a team of three. They do a tremendous job and are really making a difference on the course. In fact we have probably got some of the best greens in Yorkshire.”
Finally, he has responsibility for the house staff and the building. Richard explained: “The clubhouse is built around the old black mill, and is visible from many parts of the course. Its upkeep is an ongoing challenge, and I will be planning a refurbishment in 2015 to bring it up to 21st century standards.” The club hopes that this year’s 125th anniversary celebrations will generate a sizeable contribution towards next year’s plans.
The club aims to succeed with a number of initiatives to enhance the golfer’s overall experience and enjoyment. First is the need to improve all the communications processes at the club. Next, is to do more to involve the local community. And finally, the club wants to make its celebration year an exciting one!
Richard has already started down the road to modernise communications. “The website has become a source of current information for all the members. But it is not responsive. With so many people now using smartphones to browse the internet and read emails, we have commissioned a new responsive website which should be ready in time for our celebrations,” he said. A responsive website is one that looks good and is easy to use on any size of screen.
“We have also started using email a lot to talk to our members, and young or old, they love it. We are active with Facebook, using it mainly to report on competition results, and are about to start on Twitter.” Richard continued: “We have set up an online booking system, and now everyone can enter our 2014 opens through the website. I can’t tell you how much time that saves me in the office.”
Richard knows that many clubs have been using the internet to help communications with members and visitors for a long time now, but he is really pleased that his traditional club has embraced the changes and moved forward as quickly as it has. In fact everyone at the club is full of praise.
Richard is keen to get the most from the club’s unique location. The Westwood is an historic area of common pasture. The greens are fenced off and local rules deal with situations such as what to do when a ball strikes a post. “Cows occasionally get hit, but fortunately they can’t write in to complain,” joked Richard. The golf course occupies much of the southern part of The Westwood and the race course much of the northern area. “As we share The Westwood with the race course, it is quite possible for members and visitors to enjoy a morning of golf, followed by lunch and an afternoon at the races, so combining the best of both worlds,” said Richard. Packages like this help to differentiate the club from its competition.
Richard has also set up a series of open competitions including the club’s first pro/am in July. Other competitions cover all parts of the club including running a mixed open competition after the pro/am is over.
“I love the competitions we run and I am really pleased that we have a good selection catering for all our golfers at the club,” Richard added. “I am currently planning our social events for the year with the captains and committee, and we plan to have lots of fun during the year, but we will support and maintain the traditions of the club.”
The result of Richard’s hard work and innovation is tradition and modern management combining to provide a vibrant golfing community, stretching out to members, visitors and the local community. Youth and energy is taking the club forward, while tradition is being upheld. I wonder what Beverley and East Riding Golf Club will be like at the end of 2015?
Do you know of a golf club manager younger than Richard? Let us know in the comments below