One of the country’s most famous clubs, nestled along the famous ‘Golf Coast’, has undergone a quiet revolution since the appointment of the PGA Fellow Professional Stuart Leech.
Formby Golf Club is the venue enjoying a new lease of life since Leech, who was among the first PGA Professionals in the industry to complete The PGA’s Director of Golf qualification, took on the role.
Drawing on his experiences at Hawkstone Park, Marriott St Pierre and Macdonald Portal, Leech has overseen changes on and off the course – which has also included securing a number of high-profile tournaments, maintaining its rich heritage having hosted the British Amateur Championship and the Curtis Cup in the past decade.
Leech, who has the official title of secretary-manager, has been in the thick of it since his arrival at the tail end of 2013 as he explains.
“This is a very unique role for a PGA Professional to have but I am fortunate to have the background to handle this,” he said. “There hadn’t been anyone in this role for 12 months before I came and so it has been about overseeing improvements in the clubhouse for standards and quality, making sure that it’s run efficiently; evaluating health and safety procedures and working on getting significant prestige tournaments to the venue.
“When I came into the role tentative talks had been ongoing with the R&A and England Golf but we set up a championship committee, got a bit of momentum and then made sure we could deliver with the logistics.
“On the back of that we have confirmed this year we are hosting the Men’s Senior Amateur Championship in 2016, an England v France International in 2016, the English Amateur Championship in 2018 plus we have just secured hosting the Arnold Palmer Cup in 2016.
“These are major events for us and of course there’s a financial implication in terms of displaced business during the event but our aim is to build upon the already high reputation of Formby Golf Club for many years to come.”
Leech is also looking to introduce more corporate golf and business meetings to the venue and promote play-and-stay opportunities using the club’s dormy house facilities.
The scope of the role, combined with the its location and history meant taking on the role was not a difficult choice having only moved back to his native north-west in the past couple of years.
“I moved to Portal for family reasons and the role suited me at the time but when this opportunity came along and I was asked would I be interested, it was impossible to turn it down. I fell in love with Formby some 20 years ago and this will continue for many more.
“It’s brought me back into a members’ environment where you can see people on a regular basis, get to know them and make strong relationships. At a hotel venue that’s much harder given the nature of the business.
“This is a tough job because there are a number of quality courses in the area but our emphasis is on keeping our members happy, drawing in additional business through existing and new revenue streams and of course looking to the future.”
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