The Nottinghamshire Golf & Country Club’s lady leadership team got themselves a surprise honour in April, awarded with the Unsung Hero (s) of the Year award by England Golf.

Head of Operations Jane Rudkin and Managing Director Amanda Fletcher won the award thanks to their selfless work during the off and on 12 months of lockdown which all took part at the golf club, but benefitted many people whose lives and careers are centered away from the complex.

In doing so they raised charity funds, performed a crucial role together in helping the NHS when the pandemic raged and their leadership brought a local community together, rallying around to help the causes.

Amanda explained, “It was a complete surprise, and to be recognised by England Golf was very special. It was very well done as well, England Golf CEO Jeremy Tomlinson came to the Zoom call we took part in when accepting the award and spoke to Jane and I personally, he was clearly well briefed on the reasons for the award and our achievements.”

The last 12 months has been a significant snowball effect. We went into lockdown, nobody knew what it all meant at first or how long it would last for. Jane and I moved in to the hotel in March 2020 and donated all of the rooms for the NHS staff for what we thought would be three weeks, but actually turned into 54 days and nights. At the same time we were able to keep the membership engaged which was vital too.”

I sat there last April in the office and looked at the membership renewal offers on the table, our membership year runs all the way through but April/May is always a key time and I wondered then how we’re going to handle this, in lockdown with no golf on the horizon. We just had to bite the bullet and use the time to call them all and ask for their support and loyalty.”

It was an unexpected factor but clearly what we doing with the NHS became a sort of cathartic circle of support from everyone, the local community rallying round with a ‘we’ll all get through this together’ type of attitude from all. The members stayed, renewed in their droves and many, many of them helped out during that period too.”

Lockdown two came along in the autumn and the tiered system was unkind to Nottingham, this time Amanda and Jane put on their walking boots to take on the ‘Notts Walk and Talk Challenge’.

“Mental health and golf go together, especially for the older generation. I remember one day coming off the phone to an 81 year old member who was close to tears as his whole life now is all about playing golf. I said to Jane we’ve got to do something to help so we set a target on £3,000 for Nottinghamshire MIND (Mental Health Charity) – we raised that comfortably just by walking the fairways and we able to count on yet more support from the members who all gained benefits from simply walking the courses and getting to socialise too during another difficult period.”

The autumn campaign for MIND raised £5,400.

ALSO AT THE NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

Life at the club has remained incredibly busy both in and out of lockdown, owner Alan Hardy was determined to maintain momentum throughout the 12 months of challenge. His and the club’s strategy of keeping their staff on and continually improving the courses and 19th hole facilities has paid off in spades as Amanda explains..

We gained 81 new members in March and April, we found people who had traditional dilemmas in dividing their disposable incomes up when it came to playing other sports, concert going etc are still not fully able to do all of those things, so golf was the winner and they came to us. We’ve found we’ve taken groups of friends, many from local clubs and couples golfers too which has helped to boost our ladies section as well!

“I think having a growing reputation in the local area is so important. We also were always very public and vociferous from day one of our main priority here to keep all of the greenkeeping staff on, looking after and improving both courses. We’ve maintained that throughout, only in February when we knew the weather was going to be poor and they wouldn’t be in as a full team we utilised flexi-furlough for a time but aside from that we kept on a full team.”

The decision processes for us in the last 12 months have been absolutely key, what Alan and ourselves didn’t want to do was shut everything down. Whilst it’s been tough at times and we’ve had to box a bit clever when it’s come to cash flow and everything, I think our long term decisions are paying off now. The marketing plan we set up was very important, an expense at the time but it’s worked. We did a face mobilisation plan for each road map so were able to mobilise quickly and be ready for every step.”

“The team have been really focussed – it’s been a lot of hard work and I’m not saying I’m not ready for a holiday but we’ve got great staff and an amazing facility here.”

Course changes

The new lake on the 2nd (Signature Course) was an investment Alan wanted to continue with but there’s also been a bit of strategy around that. As anyone who plays it knows, that part of the complex between the 2nd and 3rd more or less shut the Signature in bad winter conditions, you couldn’t play through it. Now that end of the course is completely remodelled with the new lake there joining the one we put in a year ago on the 3rd as well, it’s now quite a spectacular looking little stretch and we’ve put in a new tee on the 4th as well, lengthening that hole a little.”

Pro shop improvements

“We’ve re-arranged the shop and made it more of a focal point now which has been very noticeable since we re-opened. You could never fully define before whether people were going in the shop or just using it as a thoroughfare to the locker rooms, now we’ve routed it differently it’s all about the shop.”

In place of the changing room access via the shop is a new simulator suite, powered by Foresight technology.

“We’ve got Pebble Beach, St Andrews, many famous courses to rent for an indoor game for the members and guests to use, but primarily the pros can utilise the suite with the latest hardware from the likes of Taylor Made and Titliest, who we’ve not done a lot with in recent years. Club fitting can now be a major part of the operation.”

In the pro shop there’s also now a new younger element to the team with the addition of Ollie, Jack and Josh, all PGA trainees. In a follow up feature to be published soon, MG will be getting to know them all a little better and finding out about their golf games and pathways to full qualification at the club.