Michelle Baker is CEO of the Melanoma Fund and creator of the Slip! Slap! Swing! sun protection campaign for golf.
“Although becoming a golf club captain carries significant prestige, responsibility, and commitment, it will also be frustrating and hard work, but will create a set of skills, and memories that will enrich your life.
If you’ve served as vice-captain and are now stepping-up and lead your club, you may benefit from some key learnings, to not only avoid some of the most common pitfalls but make your tenure ultra- successful and most importantly enjoyable.
From my experience, great golf club captains are undoubtedly those who love people, can take advice, stand their ground (but can be flexible), have the tenacity to carry through a strategic plan (with goals), and are able to get to grips with a digital diary! When it comes to attitude, although it is impossible to please everyone, a certain degree of managerial pragmatism is essential, and mixing that with a dose of good humour will win the day.”
As well as living up to the efforts of your predecessors in maintaining the good name of the club (no pressure there), filling a spreadsheet with all manner of events and fun activities, you will also be responsible for appointing your club charity of the year. This will undoubtedly be a cause close to your heart or relevant to your club, which will not only benefit from your efforts, but will support you back, to ensure you make the most of your captaincy.
The most successful collaborations I’ve had with golf clubs are with those captains who have great support from the club and its members. Getting the managers to understand your goals is vital, as well as never losing site of them yourself, as the year can easily run away with you.
My first experience was working with Chartham Park Golf Club, a fantastic course in the heard of Kent. Not only were the team captains agreed in supporting one charity, but they were also aligned in their joint responsibilities, and in amount of donations they were going to raise, which was simply more than the year before! Instead of trying to pry donations from their members, they invested in their events and included me as part of their team, to make all we did cohesive. Overall, the club raised approx. £25,000 which was an incredible achievement, smashing all targets.
This year, I have had the pleasure of working with Faversham Golf Club where both the lady and men’s captains (Phil Dott and Sheila Fullager) selected us as their club charity. I have been impressed all year, not only with the club’s community spirit, but also the way they work smart, and together as a big family.
I have formed great relationships with the captains, members, and the management team, their very able assistant club manager, Jo Tandy, who has provided brilliant support so far this year. Here she has some helpful key learnings that all clubs could benefit from:
“Being ready to go from the beginning of the year and advertising the charity days right from the beginning is key to kicking everything off in a positive way. As well as promoting golf days to members and visitors, we used the platforms GolfEmpire and HappyGolf to advertise awareness to the wider public.
As well as our captain’s working tirelessly, which is essential, keeping our members involved and engaged has been vital, and we achieved this by displaying charity posters and banners in the clubhouse from February onwards, ensuring they were clear on our mission from the start.
When it comes to charity days, we promote these to our members first, issuing the entry forms and details by email at the start of the year, and having both available in the clubhouse for people to take away. Limiting the entry numbers also helps drive interest as people don't want to miss out!
Aside from the golf days, the bingo nights have been a surprising success, bringing a fun element to the fundraising. The help that Michelle provided and us working together and helping marry the club to local businesses and provide free sunscreen and skin checks was also crucial to the continued success of the events. That and the Slip! Slap! Swing! pin badges, the donations boxes - plus the second-hand book table in the Club foyer have helped bring in the donations.
As we were already an established promoter and supporter of the 'Slip! Slap! Swing!" campaign and the Melanoma Fund, their toolkit of posters and leaflets were already in the clubhouse from previous years, and we firmly believe that this also helped us create support from the members. The Ladies Section buying in Altruist suncream to sell in the club shop (at a cheaper price than it could be purchased online!) was also a fantastic idea.
Here are my 10 top tips to ensure your year as captain is enjoyable and successful:
- Develop a plan with aims, objectives, goals and include a budget.
- Create a strong team and designate responsibilities to ensure no overlap of work.
- Get your club on-side, ensuring managers understand how this year will benefit the club, such as bringing in visitors and increasing revenue
- Ensure the charity you work with supports you back and is keen to be part of your organising team from the very beginning
- Reach out to ALL contacts and don’t be afraid to ask, especially for auction prizes - remind them (and yourself) that you are benefiting a good cause.
- Select a cause from your heart and head. Ensure that the charity’s objectives resonate with the club as this will encourage support.
- If possible, get your family supporting your efforts! Your role may eat into your personal life at some point, which could be stressful if not agreed in advance.
- No matter how frustrating, impossible, unplausible, or disagreeable, you will get through the AGM.
- Have creative brainstorms to develop fundraising ideas that engage your members.
- Remember to smile and enjoy the experience, nobody wants a martyred captain.
About the Melanoma Fund
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with golfers and greenkeepers at high risk due to how, when and where they play and work. The Melanoma Fund is focused on raising awareness of sun protection in sport and created the Slip! Slap! Swing! campaign to improve habits and keep skin cancer off the fairway. For further details on getting your club sun protection accredited or if you wish to talk about supporting the charity, contact email@example.com or visit www.melanoma-fund.co.uk.