Heather Mulley is the general manager at Enville Golf Club in Staffordshire. It’s a thriving club with over 850 playing members, who enjoy its two courses, and it has hosted major amateur championships. It’s also a progressive club which is actively working to grow the women’s game.
Tell us about your career background:
I was a legal secretary and unfortunately got made redundant – but it was a lovely summer and I decided to have a few weeks at home. However, my father was a member at Enville for many, many years and was on the committee at the time. When the secretary’s assistant broke her leg and couldn’t work he volunteered me to help out. I had a wonderful time and stayed for 2½ months before going back to my legal career for 10 years.
Then, by chance I heard the club was advertising for an assistant secretary. I applied, got the job in 2002 and in 2011 I was promoted to administration manager and in 2014 I became general manager.
What do you like about it?
Every day is different, you never know what you are going to meet! The members are special and I like the family feel around the club – I’m quite a people person. We’ve held some big events, like the British Girls’ Championship, the English U14 boys’ Reid Trophy and the English Senior Women’s Championship. I enjoy these, it’s really interesting. I like working as a team along with the course manager, house manager and the professionals, .
What’s the club like?
This is a traditional private members’ club, with a progressive outlook. Our members always come first and we are lucky that we have two courses. So, even when we host big events we can usually keep one open for members. I am always thankful to the forefathers of the club, starting in 1935 with nine holes and all the work that has gone on to create 36 holes.
We are always trying to improve our facilities. In the last few years we’ve added a spike bar, made a courtyard seating area which is very popular in good weather and, last year, installed a new state of the art irrigation system.
What would you like to change?
Over the last few years we’ve really been looking at our age demographic, in particular in the ladies’ section – and looking at ways we can grow ladies’ golf.
The committee and I put our heads together and realised there’s a big gap between taking lessons, going to the range, maybe playing pitch and putt and actually joining a club. So we’ve introduced a ladies’ academy offering 10 individual lessons, six group lessons, a mentor from the ladies’ section to offer encouragement, lots of group activities like putting and a voucher to play 72 holes during the year. That doesn’t sound a lot but when you’re beginning, two or three holes can be just what you want to build your confidence.
Thirteen ladies joined in the first year and six have gone on to do a second year. Another seven ladies have started the first year of the academy this March. One has joined the club as a full member and we’re very hopeful six or seven will join in the future. Two have joined other clubs, which is brilliant for golf, this wasn’t all about Enville, it was about growing the women’s game. We are very, very proud of it.
We’re also running Girls Golf Rocks for the first time, with England Golf and the Golf Foundation. We’ve had a fantastic response to that and we’re very excited about it.
Our ladies section is also looking at Women on Par, England Golf’s scheme to get women beginners out on the course and enjoying themselves with other women of similar ability.
We will be signing The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter, too. We’re really trying to do our bit!
How do you keep your skills up to date?
I have a lot to do with the Golf Club Managers’ Association and a year ago I started their diploma in golf club management, because I wanted a challenge and a qualification. It’s been quite tough to fit in but I’ve really, really enjoyed every module I’ve done so far. I’ve got some very good fresh ideas and it’s helped me with networking.
I don’t play golf, although I have had lessons, but I know about the game. I can process a competition, I understand handicaps. I know what people are talking about!
Do you meet many other women club managers?
There’s a growing number of women managers and I do think women are good at this role. I think women are great at negotiation, compromise and convincing the members of the way to go.
If anyone asked me for career advice I’d say, first get an understanding of the admin side, then take the GCMA diploma and look for a management position.
I fell into this, but I can honestly say I have thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.
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