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 up to mischief 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 the ladies were in the dip), hit over them and walked past them, said “Thank you very much for calling us through,” and walked on. Major Lampard (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 he had a big influence on my thinking firstly, to join the army, and secondly, to 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 in December 1994, and 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 all the time, 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 frustrates me the most is that many members don’t appreciate what’s involved with running a golf club today until, that is, they join the board or a committee. Sadly golf itself is now just a tiny fraction of the business as a whole.
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 and 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. I don’t believe that you can do this job if you don’t love everything about it.
What also drives me nuts is the huge amount of compliance work behind the scenes, health and safety, the red tape and most of it totally unconnected with golf.
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 employed a new caterer and his wife. Sadly there was a bit of domestic violence going on behind the scenes and I got embroiled to the point I had to intervene and actually rescue the wife and child out of their flat!
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 the captain (who I’d invited to stay over) and one other member. The captain ended up asleep in the clubhouse, on the sofa. The other guy had set-off home only to return about three hours because he couldn’t find home. I just sat in my office and was horribly sick. The one good thing is that nobody saw me in that state 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 – I try to keep life in Temple in perspective. In my opinion, nothing should be that critically important that it can’t be resolved amicably and without a fuss.
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 on the rare occasion that I do play reasonably well because my handicap has increased so much and so quickly (apparently we use WRONGU as opposed to CONGU at Temple) but people tend to conveniently forget the countless rounds when I played like a complete doughnut, like you’ve never picked up a set of clubs before.
People think that 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, but it’s the fact that it’s a drop hole and you’ve got the stunning 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 played them all yet but like countless other golfers 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 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 links courses though because I can imagine being constantly buffered. by the wind must be quite debilitating. Hoowever, 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. 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 penned a bio for me….
So, when the Duke of Kent and his entourage swept 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 on the door and wall.
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 had the opportunity to get into golf club management not arisen. If I was starting over again, would I change anything? Probably not but if I was going to consider something, I’ve always fancied law, maybe in a court, a solicitor, a barrister or perhaps a Doctor.
C: What annoys you most about your job?
K: One of the other things that I dislike most is impatience. So, people… I’ve got a theory about this. Members tend to want things done yesterday so everything in life is quick other than the time taken on the golf course. When people are on the golf course most don’t move quickly. This is the bit that puzzles me. People will amble around and hold everybody up, and yet when they’re back in the clubhouse they are impatient for their meal and to get away before the rush hour but blow the players behind them who have been held up all of the way round!
Many people 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.”
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!