W&G ask the questions! There are a variety of roles for women within the golf industry. Here we talk to Emma Clifford – the current Golf Club Managers’ Association Manager of the Year.
There are a variety of roles for women within the golf industry, although some don't always allow much time to play golf!
PGA professional and former LET player Emma Clifford is the current Golf Club Managers’ Association Manager of the Year.
W&G asks the questions ….
Tell us about your career in the golf industry
I got the golf bug at the age of 13 when my father introduced me to the game; we used to play 9 holes before school and I played in every competition I could. I went on to play for Essex and England before turning Professional in 1992 and playing on the Ladies European Tour. I gained my PGA qualification in 2000 and have gone on to work at some lovely golf clubs, made lots of friends and gained valuable experience along the way.
Why did you choose to become a Golf Club manager at West Essex
The Council at the time were looking for an administrator to look after the golf operation side of the business. I was approached by one of the directors almost four years ago. I was interviewed, employed, and a year later promoted to Secretary Manager. The West Essex opportunity came along at the perfect time and to be offered a chance to return to the club I love was a dream come true. It was like coming home.
Did you have specific training for your current role?
PGA training started my career in golf and I have gone on to gain experience in every one of my roles. Working at different types of golf clubs including a pay and play operation, an exclusive private members club and a traditional members club, attending training seminars and events wherever possible has enabled me to continue my personal development. I believe we never stop developing our careers through training and role experiences.
What qualities are required to be a good golf club manager?
Now that is a good question! Number one without a doubt is a passion for golf, knowledge, experience, ambition, good customer and staff relationships, and more importantly the key to any manager’s success is having a great team around you.
Nowadays more women are holding senior positions at golf clubs, but throughout your career has it been tough to prove yourself in what has historically been a man’s world?
I’m smiling at this question as I always considered this as a challenge. I remember winning the Chigwell Golf Club Junior Open. I was the only girl playing and I saw how amazed everyone was. It has been challenging at times but I have always been very fortunate and accepted for who I am and my ability; I have my father to thank for this, he gave me the passion, confidence and opportunity to allow me to get to the level I did and develop a career in golf.
What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis?
Golf clubs in general generate extra revenue through society days, green fees, functions and events. At West Essex we do the same and as such this creates tee reservations, bar closures which in addition to our own club matches can change the dynamics of the club and this does keep us all on our toes. Ultimately the challenge is most importantly about keeping the members and guests happy whilst retaining a successful and well run business.
If you could change one thing in golf, what would that be?
Encourage CONGU to embrace the Professional golfer. It would be wonderful to have another category of handicap (professional category) for club grown players who have played golf to a high level and represented their club, county and country as amateurs and have chosen to move into professional golf. By allowing professionals to compete in a number of club competitions (within a new CONGU category and rules) it would enable them to retain the link with their fellow members, develop their game and retain a membership of their golf club and quite possibly help develop a future PGA Professional and or Tour player.
Do you have time to play golf?
I manage to play two or three times a year at West Essex. I played a very enjoyable game at Conwy in April at the GCMA Manger of the Year finals and I’m looking forward to a few more away games this year. I have three boys aged 12, 8 and 4 who keep me very busy when I am not working so practise time is limited, but I know it won’t be long before I have all three of them out on the course playing golf with me.