David Gemmell CCM was the Head Professional at Aberdour from 2002, but with the goal of getting into club management he attended all 5 of the CMAE MDP’s within 4 years and gained his CCM in 2016 and is now the General Manager of Turnhouse in Edinburgh. He is the former President of the CMAE Scottish Region and currently sits on the Board for the Scottish Golf & Club Managers Association.
In this Q&A David explains how the CCM designation was pivotal in landing him the role at Turnhouse and how he hopes more PGA Pro’s will look to develop their skills and move into management.
You enjoy a well-deserved high profile as club Pro in Scotland. Can you share a highlight from your playing career, either as an amateur or a Pro?
My Professional playing career was quite low profile as I concentrated on teaching and working in the shop as an Assistant. When I was lucky enough to get my first full Professional position building relationships and the business definitely came first, playing second. I used to qualify for most events but not feature against the full-time players but my highlight was qualifying for the PGA Centenary Foursomes event at a club called Little Aston where my partner and I represented The Scottish Region in what was the PGA’s premier celebration event that year.
Are there any similarities in coaching golf compared to mentoring an employee?
Yes, I suppose there are. Both are structured, should be a good experience and require a lot of patience.
You are very active with the CMAE in Scotland and completed all five MDP courses in 4 years. Who or what inspired you to first get involved with CMAE?
I knew a long time ago that things were not working well between the clubs and the pro’s and sometimes no matter how things are portrayed, the club’s wouldn’t listen, so the Pros were/are seen as ‘only a pro’. I felt that I had more to offer but I also knew that before things could change I needed to validate my existing skills and learn new ones.
There was nothing really on the market to help me do this until my great friend, Paul Arthur PGA Professional at Alyth, told me that he had signed up for this new course on Club Management called the MDP Programme and I became very interested. Paul was overwhelmed by the course which was good enough for me so I signed up for the next one available. Once I started I was hooked and saw a clear new career pathway. I was so impressed with what the CMAE were doing and how Scottish Golf had embraced it I knew that this was the future for clubs. Kevin Fish was my mentor and inspiration through all this and is still my first point of call along with the Tribe. Scottish Golf were doing great things when this all started and were really starting to make a difference so a lot of my respect also goes to Hamish Gray and Andy Salmon for listening to Kevin and the CMAE.
I have attended two World Conferences and have met a huge network of fellow Professionals with the highlight being receiving my CCM qualification at World Conference in front of my peers.
You went from being Head Professional at Aberdour to the General Manager at Turnhouse. How much would it be fair to say the Certified Club Manager designation helped you to land this role?
Massively, not only from a qualification point of view but more importantly from a confidence and self-belief point of view. Attending the 5 courses and passing the CCM exam has given me confidence in my abilities as a manager and enhanced my strengths as a PGA Professional. The transition into the new position would not have been as easy to manage without my combined CMAE and PGA training. Before the MDP Pathway I thought that I could easily step into a manager’s role which was very naïve of me.
Do you feel there has been an increase in PGA professionals wanting to move into club management as the next step on their career path?
I really hope so as I see it as the future of golf clubs. A good PGA Professional already understands the value of service standards, building relationships and managing a business. The MDP Programme will enhance and develop these skills and give a Professional Manager that is there to help all aspects of the business.