Adam Walsh CCM gained his Certified Club Manager status in 2018 at the age of 32, making him one of the youngest managers to gain CCM status in Europe. He spent over 4 years at Farleigh Golf Club firstly as Golf Sales Manager before being appointed General Manager. In the summer of 2019 he was appointed the General Manager of Sunningdale Golf Club.
In this Q&A Adam explains what learning from the MDP helps in his role and gives his advice to other young managers starting their careers.
You started your career as a Club Professional; what prompted you to move into Club management?
I have always taken a keen interest in all departments of the club and ultimately you can influence and effect more of the overall experience as a Club Manager. When I was offered my first opportunity to work in a managerial role, I took to it very well and achieved some very positive results. This encouraged me to pursue it all the way through to roles as General Manager. I love to work with and develop staff, so the platform to do that becomes greater as you move up the ladder.
Has moving from the pro shop to the office changed your perspective of golf operational management at all?
Golf operations are changing rapidly from what they used to be. The Proshop in many ways is a welcome centre for a club and the role of golf operations has diversified. When you move out of golf operations and into a broader role, you can really see the potential to make the member journey profound in that area, rather than it being simply a transactional service. Golfers enjoy nothing more than speaking to experts who share their passion, so identifying and retaining friendly and enthusiastic staff is fundamental.
What key learnings have you come away with from the Management Development Programme that have helped you in your role as a General Manager?
The MDP programme adds structure to the way that you approach tasks. When you get time to reflect, certainly on more challenging tasks, the training comes into its own as you recall the various teachings that can be applied. I really do think that the course makes you not only a better professional, but a much more analytical person. Being self-aware is the key to progression and the MDP gives you that ability, as well as a great network to consult with.
At 32 you are one of the youngest to gain the Certified Club Manager status in Europe. How important was the CCM qualification in your successful appointment as GM of Sunningdale?
Achieving CCM status shows two things in my opinion. Firstly it shows that you have the technical competency to do the job. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, it demonstrates a drive and a hunger to become better at what you do and to continue to improve. Having the CCM accreditation is by no means an indicator that you are the finished article, but it does rubber stamp your understanding of the core competencies and lets people know that you aren’t interested in standing still as a professional. I have no doubt that this had a positive influence in being given the opportunity to join such an incredible Club.
You currently chair the CMAE Young Managers Group. What advice would you give to anyone starting their careers in club management?
Formalise and structure your development quickly. If you want to get into club management, I really feel that joining the CMAE and taking part in its education will put a turbo charge on your career development. Opportunities for progression into senior management are unquestionably hard to come by, however you can create them by showing dedication and structure in your approach to self-improvement. Whose boss/prospective employer wouldn’t be impressed by a high level of planning and ambition?