Out of the mouths of…golf club managers.
As you know, I’m always on the lookout for useful content that I can share with my beloved golf club subscribers, and recently I came up with a great idea:
Why not interview some golf club managers and share the interviews with other golf club managers?
It made total sense – not only do I get to talk to golf club managers more often, but you also get to hear from someone in the same position as you. You never know, you might learn something!
So, in the spirit of ‘getting it done’, I spoke to Keith Adderley – manager at Temple Golf Club – and gave him the Wahlen Inquisition (don’t worry, it’s not as bad as that!). Here’s our chat, in full:h
Carolyne: So, Keith, how did you become a golf club manager?
Keith: I was a junior member of Flackwell Heath Golf Club many years ago, there was a secretary there… he was an old-fashioned secretary, ex-Army man. I got on quite well with him, even though, I was always in trouble as a junior.
One example, I was playing golf with my brother and some ladies wouldn’t let us through. There’s a particular hole with a dip in it, so we just literally (whilst they were in the dip), hit over them and walked past them, said “Thank you very much,” and walked on. Major (I think I called him Major) tears me off a strip for what we’ve done, and said to me, “and by the way, young man. I’m afraid I’ve got no choice, but I’m going to have to ban you.” I thought, “Ban me? Suspend me from golf?” He paused…… and said, “For the rest of the day!”.
That’s the type of relationship we had, and I think that’s why I ended up, firstly, joining the army, secondly, becoming a golf club secretary.
C: How long have you been a golf club manager now?
K: I have been at Temple for 22 years. I came here as the assistant secretary, and I took over as the secretary in August 1998.
C: What is the best thing about your job?
K: The best thing about my job, although I swear and curse about it, is the fact that it’s so varied. I’ve had days where I’ve been putting together a million-pound budget, and five minutes later I’ve had my hand down a loo unblocking it! You never know what’s going to happen on any given day.
C: What annoys you most about your job?
K: What annoys me most is that too many members don’t know what’s involved with running a golf club today. Until people serve on a board or on a committee they have no idea.
I’ve seen huge changes in golf and at Temple. When I started, I would say I was 80% club secretary, 20% company secretary. Now, I’m 80% company secretary, 20% club secretary, still trying to be 80% club secretary! The only way you can do that is by working more hours, being around… that’s why you must love it. You couldn’t do the job if you didn’t love it.
What also drives me nuts is the compliance work behind the scenes, health and safety, the red tape.
C: What is the most embarrassing staff or member issue you’ve had to deal with?
K: The most embarrassing was many years ago we took on board a caterer and his wife, there was a bit of domestic violence going on, and I got embroiled and had to get the wife and child out. Oh, it was just awful. I had to go into their flat and actually rescue them!
C: What was the rowdiest members’ event that you remember?
K: It was 2006, a St. George’s Day game of golf and dinner. It wasn’t generally rowdy, but this is probably the only time in 22 years, that I’ve been drunk at the club. I ended up with a captain (who I’d invited to stay over) and one other guy. Next, the captain was asleep in the clubhouse, on the sofa. The other guy had walked home (then turned back up about three hours because he couldn’t find home), and I just sat in my office and was horribly sick. It’s the only time. The one good thing is that nobody saw me like it apart from the cleaners! I don’t think we ever did get home that night…..
C: What would you say to yourself when you were starting out?
K: I think because of my background, some of the things I have seen – It’s a matter of perspective, nothing can be that important to a golf club. In my opinion, nothing should be that critically important that it can’t be resolved very amicably, without a big deal.
In my Army days, picking up bits of people’s bodies that have been blown up; that to me, is serious stuff. My attitude is always “Hang on a minute. You’re not dead, are you”? I think because I’ve tried to take that approach, it’s helped. It’s keeping life at a golf club in perspective.
There’s more to life than golf, let’s put it that way. I would say, just keep life in perspective, and whilst the person at the time thinks this is the most important thing in the world, there are people dying in the world.
C: What is your golf handicap?
K: It is now 14, having been as low as 2 in the past. It’s the same old thing, you hear from lots of guys, it’s just not playing enough, so it’s crept up over the years. I tend to take a bit of stick when I go away to Michael Coffey’s events, because people say, “I’m not surprised you do well, because you used to be X.” But they forget the days when you play like a complete doughnut, like you’ve never picked up a set of clubs before.
People think because you work at a golf club, you’re playing golf every day. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. When I was in the Army, I probably played twice, three times a week. Now, I reckon I’d be surprised if I played twice a month, and in the winter, I stop completely. I like to think there’s a golfer in there somewhere still, on the odd day!
C: What’s the best hole to play at Temple?
K: It’s the first, probably because I look out over it, it’s the panoramic view. You remember that view.
It’s not the most difficult hole, it’s an opening hole but I think it’s the fact that it’s a drop hole and you’ve got the view in front of you. The trees are all beginning to turn now, so they’re all different colours.
C: Where would you love to play golf, have you played on any of the open venues?
K: I haven’t done them all yet, but I would like to complete the set of open venues. I’ve been to St. Andrews but I’ve never played the old course. I’ve played at the Royal St. George’s, and at Hoylake. I’ve still got a few to go, Troon and the old course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie too. That would be my goal, to be able to say I have played on all the open venues.
C: What is your favourite course that you’ve played?
K: I don’t think I’ve got one. I like going to links courses when the weather’s good, Royal Dornoch is fantastic, Elie Golf Club (also known as Earlsferry Links Golf Course) is another one in Scotland. I wouldn’t want to play all my golf on the seaside, because I can imagine being buffered. For me, a nice calm sunny day on a good links golf course would be my idea of heaven, like Burnham and Berrow and Royal West Norfolk.
C: Have you ever met anyone famous?
K: The funniest meeting of somebody famous was back in Army days, (I’ve got to get this right….. If I get this wrong, I’ll get killed….). We had a royal visit. Normally, when you had a royal visit, you would have to write a little bio of yourself, so that he would have some information on each person he was going to meet. Anyway, the day they did the bios, I wasn’t around, and somebody did a bio for me….
So, they came into my office. “Oh, Mr. Adderley, blah blah blah, how you doing?, Hello, Sir. Da-da-da-da-da.” Then he said, “I hear you were a train spotter.” Of course, I’ve never spotted a train in my life, but they’d put on the bio that I was interested in trainspotting. So, then I had to waffle away about trainspotting. For the rest of that two-year tour, my office had Thomas the Tank Engine pictures up!
C: What’s your favourite television show?
K: I don’t want to admit to liking The Bake Off….. I like The Bake Off! I like Strictly. Any sport, really. Oh, and The Apprentice.
C: I can imagine you being Sir Alan Sugar!
C: If you weren’t a golf club manager, what would you like to be?
K: It’s a difficult one, because I loved my time in the Army and I would have stayed. If I was starting over again, would I change anything? Probably not. If I was going to consider something, I’ve always fancied law, maybe in court, a solicitor, a barrister.
C: Oh, yeah, a QC. I could see you with the wig and everything!
C: What annoys you most about your job?
K: I still don’t believe that too many members understand what we do here, and understand what’s involved with running a golf club today. Until people serve on a board or on a committee, quite often they have no idea.
The type of thing that makes me cross is in the winter, when there’s snow on the ground, somebody will ring and say, “Oh, you took the day off today, then?” Because they think the course is closed, so we’re not doing anything. The truth of the matter is, you’re making the most of the peace and quiet.
One of the other things that I dislike most is impatience. So, people… I’ve got a theory about this. Members ask me for something, but they’ve only asked me for it now, but bang, it’s got to be done immediately. When they’re on the golf course, they don’t move quickly. This is the bit that puzzles me. People will amble around and hold everybody up, and yet when they’re in, they want to be the first ones to get their meal. If they applied the same principles on the golf course as they do off the course, people would all be doing super quick rounds…
Members don’t apply their business principles to golf clubs. Another great example, I remember a chap, when we decided to cut back the catering hours a bit, ringing me and
Chap: “D‘you know, Keith, when I’m driving past on the way to work, on spec, I might just want to come in and get a sandwich. It’s a shame I’m not going to be able to get one.”
Me: “Now, correct me if I’m wrong. You’re in retail clothing?”
Me: “So, how about your open your shop at seven just in case I want to buy a suit then? Would you, do it?”
Chap: “Well, no, I wouldn’t.”
Me: “Well, what’s the difference? I’ve still got to pay somebody to be there just in case you come past.”
They seem to get onto a committee, but they don’t apply their business principles. I know it’s a member’s club. I do appreciate that. But actually, if you ran a private sector business, where all the clients had a voting right on what you did with your staff, oh my goodness, it’d be chaos.
But then, that’s the beauty of it, is keeping the 600 chefs and the 600 course managers and the 600 front of house managers and the 600 secretaries happy.
C: Exactly. That’s the thing, isn’t it? That’s the trick to being a good golf club manager.
And there you have it – big thanks to Keith for telling us about his misspent youth!