Debbie Pern CCM is currently the Club Manager at Deeside Golf Club in the North-east of Scotland. Prior to that she was Facilities Manager at the SAC (Scottish Agricultural College). Debbie gained her CCM accreditation in 2017 and is one of just two women to have gained CCM in Europe. Debbie also currently sits on the Board of the Scottish Golf & Club Managers Association.
In this Q&A Debbie explains how Deeside overcame flooding in 2015 and how the club industry can attract more female managers.
You have a background in catering, how did you come to enter the club management industry?
I was Facilities Manager at the SAC (Scottish Agricultural College) and part of my remit was managing Craibstone Golf Centre. I really enjoyed the club “family” environment so when the Club Manager position at Deeside became available I applied. I didn’t think I had enough Club Management experience, however with my background in Food and Beverage and the knowledge that Deeside were taking their Food and Beverage operation in house I was lucky enough to secure the job.
Deeside Golf Club suffered from a disastrous flood just over two years ago. How did the club overcome that?
Both Courses were devastated by Storm Frank and it took up to six months before we had a full 27 hole facility open again for members. Just after Storm Frank hit in December 2015 the ground was so soft and wet we couldn’t get any machinery on the course. There was only one way to move the silt and that was by hand. The members were fantastic, around 30 turned up each morning with their wellies and shovels and the Course manager allocated them holes and off they went. We even allowed these members into the Clubhouse with their jeans on for a plate of soup at the end of their shift! We did this for around two months until the ground was solid enough to take machinery.
After that we were gradually able to open a short course extending it by a few holes every few weeks. We now run one of our most popular competitions for all members – The Storm Frank Trophy.
Were there any measures put in place to help reduce the risk of flooding again?
We must accept that Deeside is positioned on a flood plain, however what we have done is worked hard to find ways of getting the water off the course as quickly as possible. We have enlarged outlets into the river and introduced new escape routes which has worked well up to now.
You are one of only two women in Europe to attain the CCM designation. What could the club industry do to attract more female managers?
Education, Education, Education and more flexible working hours. Women are hungry to learn! The industry is gradually moving from volunteer committees to professional managers and this includes a number of women moving into managerial roles.
Most Golf Clubs have a woman who is an assistant manager/secretary/book keeper and as an industry we should target these women and offer them education which will bring new opportunities to them.
Do you think it is important for the club industry to attract more women?
Absolutely! Like any other industry we must focus on introducing more women to senior management posts. In Golf Club Management it has been getting better over the last few years. Many new management positions are being taken by women.