Derek McKenzie CCM’s career started from a PGA Professional background. Having achieved the “Fellow of the PGA” status, he then moved into the intricacies of golf club management both nationally and internationally and was the General Manager at Santiburi Golf Club in Thailand for over 5 years, before moving back to the UK where he is now the General Manager of Scotscraig Golf Club in Scotland.
In this Q&A Derek gives an insight into the cultural aspects of club management in Thailand and the impact his education has had on his career.
You enjoyed a successful career as a PGA Professional before moving into club management. What inspired you to make the move into management?
I feel it was a gradual movement from Club pro-teaching pro-director of golf and then as general manager. I never honestly thought of golf club management until I was moving position in Spain and someone from TUI recommended a job in Thailand to me and said that I would be ideal for them. Before I knew it myself and my family were on a plane to start our new life out in Asia!
Do you enjoy playing golf more or less now that you are a club manager?
In Thailand a big part of my job was looking after the resort guests and this involved golfing with them on a weekly basis. My enjoyment of golf certainly came back and I started to compete again in Asia which I thoroughly enjoyed, especially the travel and visiting new countries. Club management in the UK is very much different to abroad and the work load means getting a game of golf in becomes harder and harder, especially at your place of work! Living now in St Andrews I really don`t have many excuses for not getting a game of golf in!
You lived and worked in Thailand as a General Manager for over 5 years before returning to the UK. What cultural differences did you experience in Thailand and how did you adapt your management style?
Culturally it is very different and managers there tended to be very autocratic whereas my style was more supporting and creating a buy-in from the team. This is something my team had not seen before and really took to and responded to. Trusting your team definitely brings rewards. I still had to adapt in certain areas and learn to respect the cultures of the country that are far more important than golfing cultures!
Tell us about your experience in sitting the CCM exam and how you felt when you found out you had passed.
The CCM exam was far harder and more stressful than any of the exams I have sat for my degrees. The pressure on the day was immense, especially on time, and I was a wreck after the exam! My feeling after was that I had not passed as I had missed out so much that I wished to write and also wasn`t sure how I could take the re-sit again and although I studied hard the majority of the exam is based on managers working in the industry in the UK, I struggled with the knowledge I would have if I worked on a day to day basis in the UK. I can only imagine how hard this exam is for those sitting it in their second language! Respect. I still remember receiving the call just before Christmas to hear that I had passed, I could not believe it to be honest as I was so sure I had failed. Celebration followed!
You were recently appointed the General Manager of Scotscraig Golf Club, the 13th oldest golf club in the world. What education has had the biggest impact on your career to date and helped you in the success of landing this role?
The CCM qualification is certainly a major reason for me getting this position with Scotscraig GC. Having the CCM gives more substance to my CV and aids greatly in getting that all important first interview. The CCM, and degree in Management, helps immensely in backing up the experience on my CV. I would recommend to any ambitious manager to seek out the CCM qualification as the journey to achieving this qualification is very enjoyable and I met some wonderful people along the way. Scotscraig GC is celebrating its bicentenary this year and I am honoured to be leading us into their third century.