We caught up with Geoff Johnson who has moved to Clandeboye Golf Club as their new General Manager.
CMAE member Geoff Johnson has recently been appointed as the General Manager of Clandeboye Golf Club in County Down in Northern Ireland. We caught up with Geoff and asked him a few questions about his new job.
Geoff, great news to hear about your new job – tell us about it (nr of members, nr of staff etc):
Clandeboye is situated in the hillside between Bangor and Newtownards at the gateway to the ards peninsular. The Club was formed in 1930 and was expanded in 1969 with the help of Peter Allis and Dave Thomas who helped to create the current 36 holes with magnificent views over Belfast Lough. The club boasts a membership of just over 1000 members in various categories and the members are supported by team of 20 staff within the clubhouse and course.
The club is called Clandeboye Golf Club. Where do you see the biggest challenge in being the GM?
The biggest challenge for me will be to raise the profile of the club against the background of the Royal’s and give the members a club that they can honestly say is one of the best in Ireland.
However, with the current pandemic in progress, the most pressing challenge will be to bring golf back to Clandeboye GC, keeping within whatever guidelines are enforced on all clubs and ever remembering the safety of the members. The difficultly then will be to bring back the lost revenue from our guests and societies. As we know the income from these groups are vital to the success of the majority of golf clubs. This could take a number of forms but will require a great deal of management thought in order to not upset or disrupt the member times while at the same time utilising quiet times on the course. The great thing about Clandeboye Golf Club is that it has two 18 hole golf courses and with clever marketing, support and understanding from the membership, I am confident we can recoup some of that lost revenue.
What is your background before coming into Golf Club Management – and what did it give you?
Coming from Northern Ireland and being brought up in a difficult era (70’s and 80’s) I made a conscious and difficult decision to join the Army and in particular the Irish Guards. I had a full career with the Irish Guards of 30 years before my love of golf took over and I made the choice to enter into the administration of running a golf club. I took on the running of the Infantry Golf Association and while doing this completed my Golf Club Managers Association, Certificate in Golf Club Management at New Buck University. My career gave me a host of skills which fit well with Club management, Leadership, People management (HR), Strategic Management, Events Management, and Administration to name but a few. As I was leaving the Army in 2012, I applied for my current role which thankfully I was successful and have throughly enjoyed.
You have are writing the Work Based Assignment to get the CMDip, how has your MDP journey benefitted you?
Personally the MDP is without doubt an excellent work based educational program. It brought together likeminded people from different clubs, not just golf, and shows that we all have a common goal, to share ideas and gather that much needed information to produce best practice. Doing MDP 1 & 2 has provided me with the largest network of information I could ever want to have. I have also two groups of friends from the different programs or courses which allows me at the sending of a txt message to get answers to problems or issues which may come up at my club from time to time.
I have now produced my Work Based Assignment and hopefully I will be successful in attaining my CMDip before getting on with my next challenge of F&B and Strategy and Leadership before really challenging myself to the CCM exam.
When do you start?
I start work with Clandeboye Golf Club on the 1st June, however I have been in regular contact with their pandemic recovery group and also with the Club Council via zoom meetings so I am helping at the moment from a distance.
Congratulations once again, we hope it will be a successful match for both you and the Club. Any final comments?
I am an advocate of all things which help us learn and support each other, the CMAE certainly provides that network of people, knowledge, and training to give any manager in the leisure and hospitality industry. I am a late starter to the CMAE program but would whole heartily recommend these programs and the organisation to any new or established club manager.
And please, in this present climate stay safe and well.