Meet the clubhouse manager: Chobham’s Catherine Ginder

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 12, 2017 14:14 Updated

Catherine tells us why the club is such a popular location for weddings and events – while being the pride of the members at the same time

What are the main challenges you face running the food and beverage operation at Chobham Golf Club?

As a department our biggest challenge is delivering an excellent service to both members and guests whilst working within our predetermined budgets.

Continually rising costs means we are constantly in contact with all our suppliers to ensure we are getting the best quality products at the best price for our customers.

We are very lucky to have a healthy function business which brings in a considerable income to the club, however there has to be a balance between this and the impact it has on the members. We are very mindful to not let our outside function business negatively affect our members’ enjoyment of the club. Even if it has a direct impact on our income at that time, overall retaining members is always our number one priority.

Similarly we also offer the same level of importance to each function and do not take a booking unless we can ensure we can do it well. We are aware that we do not want to overstretch ourselves just to make extra income if there is a risk that this would be detrimental to the service we offer and in turn our reputation. It’s important to always keep the bigger picture in mind and to not get greedy to create instant profit.

Staff costs are also a large part of our expenditure and again something I am always aware of. With such fluctuating levels of business it’s hard to have the right number of staff throughout the year. I am very fortunate to have an excellent team who are happy to put in extra hours when we are busy reducing the need to have to hire in temporary staff, which can be extremely costly.

On a personal level my biggest challenge is that my job role is quite large and varied. I am very involved in the day to day practical and operational side of the department but am also the contact for all functions and usually manage them personally from enquiry to completion. Along with the financial side and managing my team it can often seem like the days are too short. I do worry that I run the risk of not achieving everything required to the standards expected due to lack of time but this is when I find prioritising a key factor and try to remember that I can only accomplish what time allows.

I do feel that my job role is a challenge that I relish. It does retain my interest, no two days are ever the same and I feel that this is probably the reason I have been at Chobham for so long.

How many staff work with you, what are their functions and how do you split the resources between the food and beverage needs of the members and the external functions business?

My team is currently made up of two full-time chefs, four full-time managers / supervisors and five part-time bar and catering assistants. We do all work very much as a team and there is no split in staff between the members and the function side of the business. All of the team are trained and more than capable of working in either area and they always give the same high level of service regardless. Their skills are all very wide-ranging and they are all competent not only in their own job roles but they are more than capable of side-stepping or stepping up when required. This flexibility is invaluable to the successful functioning of the department.

Chobham Golf Club is situated in a highly picturesque location and has an outstanding reputation for weddings, functions and conferences. How do you market these and what do you do to ensure customer satisfaction throughout the process?

I am very proud to say the marketing we do is minimal and our main source of enquiries is through word of mouth or by recommendation. We also often get repeat business year on year; a lot of local families choose us as the venue for all their special events and we have even been the chosen wedding venue for two sisters.

Although we do have brochures outlining our services, catering options and costs for each genre of function we offer, we always stress that this is just a guide for the customer. We are entirely flexible and accommodating if there is something specific customers require, they are working to a particular budget or if there is anything we can do to make their event more special. We will often source a customer’s favourite drink or food to be available, provide particular flowers or source special equipment.

We do not offer generic functions; each one is individual and bespoke to the customers’ requirements. This is why communication with the customer before the function is so important; we like to cover every detail in advance to ensure the occasion is perfect. From an operational point of view preparation and attention to detail is so important to the smooth running of the function. Normally we are prepared for every eventuality, which has paid off on more than one occasion.

Throughout the function all staff on duty are willing and prepared to go above and beyond for the customer, they are always approachable and happy to help.

We also ask for feedback after the function to ensure we are living up to our reputation and to see if there is any way we can improve our service.

You have recently created and introduced a gin list for the members. How did that come about, what were the criteria you used to select the range and how has this been received by members?

It was actually Nathan, my assistant, who implemented the ‘Gin List’ which has been a massive hit with members and guests. He was aware of the growing trend in the industry for gin and was keen to offer much more than the standard gin and tonic. Nathan wanted a varied range and decided on the best selection with our account manager at Matthew Clarke.

When the new gins arrived Nathan organised a staff tasting session which was great not only for team boosting but also for their product knowledge. When the staff can talk to the customers from experience about the new range it’s an important selling tool.

We have found that the Gin List has been a brilliant way of maximising profits and offering a superior selection, creating customer satisfaction.

There are a good number of social events offered to the members throughout the course of the year. How do you decide the menus?

It entirely depends on the social event. The catering can vary from a sit down meal to a curry or a hog roast depending on the occasion. We do always listen and take advice / feedback from the members and try and keep the pricing as competitive as possible. They do tend to like variety so we know that if the last social event was at a higher price with a sit down meal the next one will be at a lower price and might not involve food, with members having the option to buy food from the bar menu.

Our most popular social events are nine-hole and barbecue competitions, which are always fully booked.

What currently gives you the greatest satisfaction from your job?

I really enjoy the variety of my job, I am always meeting new people and love working as part of such a strong team.

By far the most satisfying part of my job is the success of a function, knowing that we’ve done the hard work and the customers are happy.

What advice would you give to food and beverage managers working in smaller clubs, with a lesser budget, that could help them to offer the best food and drink to their members and visitors?

I would highly recommend talking and listening to their members and visitors to get feedback. Never be afraid to swap suppliers or get new quotes.



Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 12, 2017 14:14 Updated
Write a comment

1 Comment

  1. Scrcaligolf October 14, 10:52

    Thanks for Sharing

    Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:

For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: