In May 2018, members of all CMAE regions were contacted by the Conrad Winter (London & the Home Counties) to assist a keen young American student at Florida State University (FSU) with an internship in the U.K. I jumped at the chance to help a young aspiring manager ‘learn the ropes’.
Anderson landed on my door step on 26th June and has spent the last two months, learning, working, forming new relationships and seeking knowledge about the industry. The following is Anderson’s blog about his time with us at the Gogs.
My first week at The Gog Magog couldn’t have gone better! I met everyone in the office–James, Fiona, Karin and David–and they helped me settle in both in Cambridge and the office. I became acclimated with the course and surrounding grounds, touring the Old Course and Wandlebury Course with our Estate Manager, Andrew Howarth. This was a highlight of my week as The Gog Magog is truly a beautiful site! My first real experience working within the club was sitting in on the Ladies Committee and staff team meetings to discuss various operational aspects of the club. These were nice introductory events and I was able to better understand how certain areas of the club are run, hearing the thoughts of other members and staff of the club. James and the team had put together an itinerary for me to follow, ensuring that I touched all parts of the business.
So what did I do?
Project work: James asked me to use my youthful outlook and IT skills to launch the internal use of a booking system for visitors, upgrading the service and speed in which the Club communicates with its customer. I worked a lot with the BRS system as I redesigned greens and tee time scheduling for 2019 and completed numerous mock signups for groups and visitors.
Office Systems: During my placement I spent valuable time with finances and accounting. I became efficient with the banking process, an aspect I loved working on as I never imagined coming into my placement that I would become the slightest bit of an efficient accountant! This process consists of responsibilities such as filing statements and recording when companies are either owed or owe the club money (debtors and creditors, I learned). I also learned how to write out cheques from the club that need to be distributed to companies for services we use.
Health & Safety: Health and Safety, a major part of the GM’s responsibility in the U.K. This was a nice area to learn about as throughout my time I worked on checklists needed for H&S meetings, created a file covering Legionella and conducted venue audits to find any potential hazards around the club.
Event Management: During my time I learned proper event management skills as five very large events were held at the club. There are numerous aspects of running an event that must be accounted for and this was an excellent learning experience as successfully holding a tournament or big event is a key skill any effective manager or club must have. Some things I learned were how to update the handicaps of participants, creating start sheets and entry lists, reconcile payment lists for tournament and event dinners, enter scores and sort scorecards from tournaments, understand scoring patterns that occurred on the course, and work on the Club V1 system. Having these events during my placement also taught me how to properly deal with unforeseen situations that may occur or can’t be planned for which is an experience I can never get in the classroom. It also taught me how to try and keep all members’ guest and visitors happy and entertained while at the club in hopes of bringing them back to join.
Greenkeeping: Working with the greenkeepers was excellent! I received a nice introduction and tour of the facilities and was taught all about the different machines used for various areas of the course. I worked on various jobs around the course such as replacing or relocating out of bounds markers and trimming or cutting potentially hazardous trees and various limbs on buggy paths and around the course.
Various: The weekend of the 20th was quite exciting as I left for The Open at Carnoustie, which was a great highlight of my summer! Getting to see The Old Course in St Andrews and watch excellent play throughout The Open was truly an experience unlike any other! Apparently, there was also celebrations across the pond in early July that many members were curious and inquired to me about… not quite sure exactly what for. It was suggested I eat hamburgers and hot dogs, but I preferred bacon rolls instead.
Conclusion: Unlike many typical internships, I never felt my time was being wasted with unnecessary tasks or errands. While those are also part of progressing within a job, as an intern I wanted real life experience in my industry, allowing me to obtain valuable knowledge that would translate and help me become a successful General Manager. I got more than I could ask for as I learned valuable skills in various areas of the field such as accounting, event management, membership relations and more. These responsibilities also led to mistakes on my behalf, which was amazing as I learned valuable lessons! For example, paperwork and emails gave me a slight bit of trouble regarding the Junior Open. I had completed the start sheet but forgot to double check to see if there were updates on entrants prior to completing the sheet. Needless to say, there were new entrants and therefore the start sheet sent out to participants was inaccurate. James and the rest of the office did an amazing job of helping me solve the mistake and providing me with some positive reinforcement. This type of learning experience is what any intern truly strives to obtain while on placement and I was grateful for James teaching me!
My greatest few quips were “A GM works on the business, not in the business” and “planning is everything, in business and in your career. Think a few moves ahead to ensure you know where you are going” My favourite was, “don’t stress about what is out of your control, but think about how you can deal with the problem in front of you”
It was clear that as a GM, you must navigate through the issues and politics (you can never get away from it), rather than plough!! It is impossible to please everyone, you must do what is right for the future of the Club.
I look forward to seeing James bringing his skills state side one day, I think he would relish the challenge.
What has Anderson brought to us:
At a time of the season where resource is stretched to capacity, an intern’s skills are most welcome. We lucked out with Anderson’s background, a student at FSU and a keen sportsman, he understood the meaning of Club life almost immediately.
Anderson brought a different approach to our operation, with youthful insight into current issues and solutions. It was a gratifying experience to school a student with ‘on hand’ experience and give him ‘nuggets of gold’ about people management and planning.
My thanks go to Cynthia Johnson, who took the time to visit us and see Anderson in action, Cynthia is the Director of Global Club Management at FSU.
Gog Magog Golf Club