Former Sydney resident, Tim Allerton, did the ultimate tree change to Armidale last year and is currently the Secretary Manager of the Armidale Golf Club. He explains how he has plans to build on what is already one of the best 18 hole courses in country NSW.
Why did you move to Armidale?
I moved to Armidale in January 2010 to start a new job, after deciding it was time for a tree change. I was born and bred in Sydney, but have always had a yearning for the country life. I really enjoy living in Armidale; it is a very friendly, progressive and vibrant town, and I have quickly learnt to live through the winters!
Do you have experience in management?
I started my working life as an Accountant working with a very large multinational in the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) market. In this business, I held roles in sales, marketing and finance for 22 years and came up through the ranks to a senior management level with a national responsibility.
The FMCG business is an extremely exciting sector to work in, with constant change and a continuing reliance on offering new products to the market. I have had significant experience in management of processes, people and projects and believe that this experience, as well as the many lessons of life I have learned, will hold me in good stead in this new challenge.
I think the most important skill in this job is interacting with members and being ready to respond to their needs.
What do you hope to bring to the golf club?
There is little doubt that our club has one of the best 18 hole golf courses in country New South Wales. The course is in fantastic condition, thanks to the efforts of the grounds staff. This, coupled with the efforts of our staff in the office, bar, pro shop and our caterers, provide an exceptional atmosphere. There is a real buzz amongst the staff and a strong desire to succeed.
So ‘I’ will be building on what is already in place, so that ‘we’ here at Armidale Golf Club can build a successful business operation.
Areas of concentration will be marketing and promotions, so that we can build our brand: ‘Armidale Golf’. Building a business’ brand is paramount and involves everything we do, from the ‘sense of arrival’ you get when you first walk into the club, the quality of service, the condition of the golf course and the relaxed atmosphere; that is, the quality of the product provided while you are here.
Of course, as they say, if you don’t know what road you are on, it doesn’t matter where you are going. So I know the Board is very keen to see an achievable strategic plan introduced, as well as policies and procedures written up and implemented. Corporate Governance will be key to our success.
Are you a golfer, and what is your handicap?
Yes, I play golf. My current handicap is 17, and sometimes you see glimpses of that on the course. I haven’t been playing much lately, as I broke my left wrist at the end of last year. My extended family all play golf, and many are still and have been very good at the sport, winning club championships and some open events over the last 50 years.
So, I guess you could say I have a very strong golfing pedigree. Importantly, I am well aware of what members want from a golf club.
What type of new members would you welcome to the club?
We are particularly keen to build the number of junior members in the club. This is not easy, as many younger people these days participate in several sports during the year and are time poor. We will be looking at new types of competitions and golf offerings, as many young people are reluctant to give up 4 hours at a time. So, we will be interacting with schools and other junior organisations, to build on the work already started by our current club professional.
We also welcome players who are new to the game and hold a 9 hole competition on Friday mornings for new and returning players.
It is important we promote the game of golf and bolster dwindling player numbers. Golf participation rates are falling, and attrition rates of members are increasing across Australia and in many of the countries where golf is a major sport. This is a huge challenge for all Boards of Golf Clubs, and it is critical we monitor these trends and provide exceptional golf facilities for those interested in the sport.
We are running a business and need to make sure we are generating satisfactory return on funds employed, which we can aim to achieve through increased utilisation of the club house facilities.
Does the club still host functions?
The club still has functions, ranging from wedding receptions, conferences, meetings, parties and wakes. Income from functions is a very important part of our business and allows us to sponsor such clubs as UNE’s Robb College Rugby Union.
Our caterers, Past the Post, provide outstanding meals and with the view from the clubhouse, the facilities provide an excellent venue. There will be a strong focus on driving this part of the business.
Big tournaments coming up?
The next big tournament is not really until October/November, when the Ladies and Men’s Jug events are held. However, we have a very strong program of events during the year – the majority of which are open to anyone with an official Australian Golf Handicap and cater for Juniors, Ladies, Men and Veterans.
Thank you Tim.
This story was published in issue 61 of New England Focus