A new chapter begins for Simon Thornton at Spa Golf Club

A new chapter begins for Simon Thornton at Spa Golf Club

24/05/2023

It was the sound of his children at football training over the phone that made it clear why Simon Thornton decided to embark on a new chapter of his life as the new Head Professional at Spa Golf Club.

Quality family time is the aim of the game for Thornton these days who is looking forward to revelling in home comforts at Spa Golf Club, Ballynahinch in Northern Ireland. 

The 46-year-old began his new gig in Spa at the start of April, but he already had his hands full weeks in advance and has been heavily involved in helping complete the building of a new pro shop. 

"My official first day was 6th April but I was there as soon as I had agreed to take the job which was the last two weeks of March,” revealed Thornton. A former winner on the DP World Tour.

"There's been a new shop completed downstairs so I've had to paint and carpet all of that alongside opening accounts, getting tills going, ordering stock and meeting reps has all been done over the last two to three weeks.

"We are in the process of moving the pro shop from upstairs to downstairs with just the final shutter to come on. Once that comes then we will be able to get some stock, getting closer.”

The Co. Down based golfer served as the touring professional at Tulfarris Golf Club for six years while still living in his home in Newcastle.

In search of what he calls a more ‘local life’, the job as Head Professional at Spa Golf Club, just 25 minutes from his home became available. 

The circumstances leading to such an opportunity were incredibly unfortunate following the tragic passing of PGA Professional Gary Wardlow in November last year. Nevertheless, Thornton is looking forward to the next chapter in his career and hopes to have found the perfect family and work balance. 

"We live in Newcastle, I didn't relocate down to Blessington when I was in Tulfarris so we are 25 minutes away so the move ticks a lot of boxes. It's close, has great indoor facilities, a very good golf course in the summer. We don't want to relocate, my children are 13 and 11, moved into senior school and have more responsibility, they can get a bus to school from where we are. 

"It's in the wrong circumstances that the position at Spa came up with Gary Wardlow passing away so that's a little bit of a bad taste on it really. But the main reason was although I was enjoying what I was doing in Tulfarris I wanted a different challenge and to push myself a bit more again, coming to the end of a playing career and this is a new chapter certainly. 

"The idea is that I can get things up and running here and enjoy more of a local life I suppose, playing the PGA regional events and be more localised at home rather than being all over the country.” 

While his career in the county Down club is in its infancy Thornton has been made to feel very welcome by the members.

"The resort in Tulfarris was based on mostly visitors with a bit of membership whereas this one is the other way around. The biggest change is the day to day dealing with members. In Tulfarris I wasn't behind the counter everyday so for me it's being about dropping back into the shop role which I am thoroughly enjoying. 

"I've really enjoyed it so far and the members have been great and very appreciative and welcoming I have to say.” 

The three-time Irish PGA Champion still intends to play a substantial PGA schedule this year although you won’t catch him skipping captain’s day in the golf club! 

"The club want me to play and I want to play to keep ticking along and I do enjoy it. I won't be playing as much if I have commitments here but whenever I get staffing sorted out, I will be away playing again. Certainly not to a full schedule but I won’t be just dipping in and out it will be a decent schedule. 

“It’s good for the club that I do continue to play and it can be only positive for them and it’s good promotion for them. It’s a great golf club and golf course and I think I can help them in the promotional side of things by continuing to play.”

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