A former member of the Ladies’ European Tour (LET), who gave up a career as a golfer and went on to manage her home club, has been named the Golf Club Managers’ Association’s (GCMA) manager of the year for 2014.
PGA professional Emma Clifford, who played on the LET for nine years throughout the 1990s, became secretary-manager of West Essex Golf Club – the venue where she started playing aged just seven – during the economic downturn.
She won the prestigious award, sponsored by HowDidiDo, Europe’s largest golfing community, and Tonic Golf, the leading insurance provider for golfers, because she revamped the club’s marketing operation, which helped bring in 115 new members last year alone, negotiated new deals with all major suppliers that cut costs and helped to turn financial losses into profits, and played a major role in the club – which offers free coaching every week – securing both GolfMark status and becoming a Get Into Golf centre.
Her prize includes a trip to Rioja in Spain and the opportunity to attend several GCMA network meetings.
Clifford won the award ahead of five other finalists: Trevor Atkinson from Filton Golf Club; Michael Rutter from Ryton Golf Club; James Washington from Bradford Golf Club; Simon Smith from Aston Wood Golf Club; and Terry Crump from Harpenden Common Golf Club.
Clifford said: “I would like to thank everyone at West Essex – the members, the captain, the president, they all made me very welcome as manager after I grew up there. I would also like to thank the GCMA and sponsors for this competition. Special recognition must also go to my fellow finalists: five new friends for me and great networking opportunities. This is my X Factor moment …”
Bob Williams, chief executive of the GCMA, revealed that the six judges deliberated over the decision for seven hours – after spending three hours interviewing the candidates – making it the closest competition in its ten-year history.
Williams also revealed the competition attracted 111 nominations, the highest in its history, and the format will now be expanded in line with growing interest.
Tonic Golf www.tonicgolf.com
Golf Club Managers’ Association www.gcma.org.uk