Charles de Haan interviews John Hunt, Secretary of The Berkshire GC and current Secretary of the Year.
With acknowledgements to Inside Line club manager newsletter
What the CMAE means to me: John Hunt, Secretary of The Berkshire GC
Hearing the views of a CMAE member is one thing. But when that member is the current Secretary of the Year and is the Secretary of one of the finest golfing venues in the UK, you know they’re worth reading.
John Hunt is responsible for ensuring The Berkshire’s place at the top table for golfing venues around London. This sector of the market is fiercely competitive, because these society customers will pay top dollar for their day’s golf – provided they get commensurate value for their money. That used to mean a well presented course, good food and OK service. Now it means all that, but delivered to much higher standards. Knowing what those standards should be and how to ensure you and your operational team achieves them, especially when your club is at the leading edge, is what makes all the difference between an effective club manager and one that merely copes.
Besides being a founder member, John’s also been on the Board of the CMAE for the last three years, so we asked John what the CMAE has meant to him and for his insights to modern golf club management.
Why did you join the CMAE?
JH: “I joined in 2004 when the CMAE was just starting up. I had felt for some time that the profile of club managers was nowhere, and that was largely because the formalised training wasn’t available. At the time there was the week long Training Programme of the AGCS which was ideal for an introduction to the job, but other than occasional talks from companies at the Golf Meetings, there was nothing in the way of formalised training. The CMAE aimed to offer precisely that, ie. detailed, formalised training, and not just for people in my position, but those in other operational roles at the club as well.”
“If as club secretaries we were going to really raise our profile and be taken seriously by the officers or owners of golf clubs, I felt strongly we needed a qualification that showed anyone we had achieved a standard of excellence in what is a specialised area of management. Now we have the CCM and just like its counterpart in the USA, it’s going to be the mark of distinction for the top flight club manager.”
What has the CMAE done for you?
JH: “It’s given me a much wider view of club management. The US has long lead the way in the service industry, and is constantly setting standards that everyone else talks about. Because of the direct relationship with its US counterpart, the CMAE is better placed to show me what those standards are and how to achieve them.”
“So I’ve now been to three World Conferences, I’ve visited clubs in the US and met their managers, and learned a lot from them and the way they do things there. With all that and the education in club management from the CMAE’s specialists, I’ve improved the standards of my own club’s service levels.
Training for the team
“But it’s not so much what the CMAE has done for me, as what it’s done for my team at The Berkshire. I made sure The Berkshire joined as a corporate member, because I wanted to ensure that other key staff at the club would benefit as well from the formal introductory training and refresher training. So both my Chief and Deputy Stewards have been over to the US, and done two specialist education packages at Elmwood College in St Andrews over here. I’ve also arranged an exchange visit with the Loch Lomond club, and my Course Manager and Head Chef have been on CMAE training courses.
The value of real networking
“Networking is very important, and with the CMAE I’ve had the opportunity to go to the top London clubs to see how they do it, and how I can raise the bar for my own club. And I’ve been on the week long BMI, run over here by the US training specialists. It’s 8am to 5pm for five days, and not only do you get the latest in club management thinking, but with a 50-50 mix of US and European club managers, you benefit from a tremendous sharing of experience and wisdom from very different perspectives.
“And with the European club manager organisations now on board, it’s widening the scope to an even greater extent.”
So why should a club manager join the CMAE?
JH: “The CMAE offers a great deal to anyone who wants to be a really effective club manager. If you’re not a member of the CMAE, and you want to be serious about your career, your staff’s training, and your ability to shape your golf club’s future in a very challenging market, you need to join. Because in the near future, it’s going to be very simple: if you’ve got the CCM, you’ll get the interviews and the job you want. No CCM, and it’ll be no interview and no job.”