The secret secretary: We didn’t need to employ GDPR advisers

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu July 23, 2018 12:23

I own a small 18-hole golf club and we never employ companies like IT firms that offer to sort out, for example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) issues some bigger clubs might have been concerned about.

We succeed and keep low fees because we keep our overheads down. Many golf clubs (particularly private members’ clubs in financial trouble) are easy game to the host of parasites who prey on committees who feel ‘we must have an expert in or we will get a big fine’.

GDPR is not for little golf clubs like ours. Neither are HR firms, rate appeal firms, marketing firms, machinery insurance companies and so on.

They are all sophisticated scams.

If a golf club hasn’t got the brains and common sense to handle these things themselves very competently they really do deserve to have financial problems.

I’ve had a company that offers alternative memberships on to me recently.

At first I thought they had come to ask for advice as we started a flexible membership category in the 1990s and have been doing free lessons to recruit beginners to golf twice a week for the last 20 years.

I pointed this out and said: “Why would I pay you my hard earned profits for something I advise my colleagues how to do?”

Any golf club manager worth their salt (unless they’ve had their arm twisted by soppy committees) should be doing all these things themselves. What else is there for them to do?

A large nearby club had a secretary and five office staff about four years ago. At that time I used to do all those jobs and do the greenkeeping too. When I pointed that out to their committee, they saved money by ‘combining roles’. Most clubs could save a fortune by being a bit braver in their duties.

That is why I say we should let our golf club managers and secretaries present to each other the things they have had success at.

It would boost the confidence and status of many who seem frightened of their own shadow.

Have you heard how one club manager I know uses his greenkeepers in the slack winter months to sell firewood? Brilliant!

We are thinking of doing the same.

Many would say: ‘A golf club manager is not employed to prepare and sell firewood’. But then they are employed to deal with all the issues clubs pay ignorant outsiders to do – people who have never run a golf club in their lives.

We managers ARE the experts!

The opinions expressed on ‘secret secretary’ are those of the authors, not The Golf Business. The authors change from article to article, but so far have only been golf club managers or golf club owners. If you’re interested in contributing a ‘secret secretary’ article for The Golf Business, email


Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu July 23, 2018 12:23
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  1. MattO July 23, 21:39

    “Sophisticated scams”! A little on the aggressive side me thinks.

    I’m not so sure it’s a weakness to seek opinions/expertise from external sources in areas that you don’t feel comfortable in. In fact, I’d say that was a strength. The trick is to pick the right external sources because, admittedly, there are plenty of cowboys around.

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  2. Cal1409 July 26, 15:37

    You are absolutely right. It would be ideal if every Club Manager, no matter what their abilities, was an expert in every area of managing a club, from food ordering, to measuring speed with a stimp meter, to COSHH to SOSR dismissal processes. But I am not sure why this is expected. No business in the private sector would ever expect the managing director to be an expert in all those areas. They would expect them to know of the importance though, and get the correct advice. And the private sector does not have the challenge of committees/members who all have their own opinions. Opinions that they are convinced are correct, even if they have been out of business life for the last 15 years. Sometimes it takes an outside expert to convince them, for example, that the retirement age has actually been abolished and that the club manager is not just “making it up”!

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  3. djm July 26, 20:08

    “Sophisticated scams” is about right.

    GDPR is another Y2K

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  4. Steveb July 27, 06:35

    Total agreement, best thing we did at our club was reduce the size of the Committee. We now getting things done and saving money. Starting to move forward at last. Plenty of critism from older past Committee members who are still living in past.

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  5. RJB55 July 28, 09:49

    Totally agree with the article. We operate two Clubs, one , a 9 hole built from scratch, the other an 18 hole established course ( was a members club) bought off the receiver.
    There seems to be a constant stream of ‘Advice’ and ‘Management solutions’ for a fee being offered, almost on a weekly basis.
    We have stuck with our Accountants and Solicitors when we have felt the need for help.

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