From Liverpool to leadership: David Goscombe's golf management journey

From Liverpool to leadership: David Goscombe's golf management journey


David Goscombe is the new Group Golf Manager at three courses in the North West of England. The Liverpool season-ticket holder has worked in the golf industry for over 15 years, most recently at Formby Hall Golf Resort, and now, at the age of 35, he will be overseeing some exciting changes as three municipal courses look to become part of the area's destinations for golfers and families alike.

What does your new role involve?

I was previously at Formby Hall Golf Resort where I had a dual role of Assistant Golf Operations Manager and Head Professional. So half of my day would consist of management and the other half would be teaching until 9pm so they were pretty full days. So through my career I have always done a bit of both, in terms of the management side and the teaching side. 

How does your background lend itself to this new role?

I did a degree in management and a degree in coaching, so two separate ones. Some people might say it was indecisive of me but I just wasn’t sure which career would be best but, in doing both, it gave me experience and responsibility. The coaching wasn’t going too badly but I wanted to make more of a name for myself as a director and manager. I'm 35 years old and this is quite young for this type of role; normally you wouldn’t be looking at getting a role like this until your 40s. 

How does your job work?

I am now the Group Manager of three golf courses – Allerton Manor, Sherley Park and Kirkby Valley in the North West. The three sites have all got big future plans; they were municipal courses and the owners, Green Circle Leisure, want to revamp them and make them a lot better and try and attract more people to this type of course, not only by improving the course but also the facilities as well. So we have added new elements like restaurants and sports bars. They are all within a 20-minute drive of each other, most of my time is based at Allerton Manor, at least three days of the week, with the other two split between Sherley or Kirkby.

What have your first few months looked like?

When I came in it wasn’t running as smoothly as it should have been, not just in one club but all three. I’ve known the owners for a long time, they used to own Formby Hall so they knew my experience. My first couple of months here have been implementing the foundations and trying to get standard operating procedures in place so that current and any new staff are trained up on what they need to do. And using the systems correctly. We use Intelligent Golf here across all three sites, which is a really good system but it just wasn’t being used at all to its potential.

What did you learn from Formby Hall?

It was always busy there, no matter what time of year. The flow of different people and the energy moving through the place was huge so one of the biggest things that I’ve learnt from there was how to be able to react to anything and any time. And never be surprised at what is coming up, and how to handle a situation and to shy away from it.

I was happy to deal with the general manager and work on stuff in the hotel like membership and marketing, basically not being afraid to do other jobs. So I would say that I have always tried to create value in myself and do extra, do more, than what I got paid for. Which obviously gives value to them but also I’ve used it to help me develop my knowledge and use as much of it as I can to get a job like this.

I spent time in America for a couple of years and that’s the way I found things over there, it was more family oriented so we’re trying to go that way with it

- David Goscombe - PGA Professional

What do you want the future to look like at the three courses?

They are much better than the traditional municipal courses but they aren’t quite at the heights of resort courses or private courses. So the plan is over the next couple of years is to develop them in all areas, not just the  course but the leisure facilities and have them running as efficiently and as busy as any resort type club. And to welcome all types of customers, not one specific type, so we want families, new golfers, experienced golfers.

For example at Kirkby Valley the plans we have got, we have a two tier gaming system that they use over in America, along with adventure golf for families and kids which we are going to do here and at Allerton as well. We have got a sports bar with a big screen outside and the the restaurant so we are trying to make it when you go to the golf club it is a family thing rather than one member of the family is leaving the rest at home. I spent time in America for a couple of years and that’s the way I found things over there, it was more family oriented so we’re trying to go that way with it. That is the way society is moving so we’re just trying to match it.

Getting the job

Unlike the usual process, they contacted me. I hadn’t applied for the job but the owners knew me already and they wanted someone they could definitely trust. It was in a bit of a mess and they knew that I would be able to fix it and sort it out, so they approached me. And then it was a case of speaking with the directors, and seeing if their vision matched my vision of what we wanted to do with the place, and the three sites, and where it wanted to go. And it all matched in great and they were happy with my views on it and I was happy with theirs; so it wasn’t the usual process of applying.

Advice to fellow PGA Pros

My advice would be to not be afraid to try and branch out into different aspects of the industry. Whether you are working at a big golf club or not you can still try and pick up as much as you can. Some PGA Pros shy away from that, I would say just try and add value to yourself. As a PGA professional you need to widen your horizons in terms of adding strings to your bow and doing more. So I think that if you are aspiring to go as far as you can in your career you need to be able to move in to this type of role. 

And don’t be afraid to not know the answer, if you don’t know something be happy that you don’t know and try and find it out. Dealing with staff as I do now, and training people up, a lot of people don’t want to say that they don’t know what they are doing, but that just delays the process of learning so basically I would say that it the biggest thing just being able to admit that you don’t know something, and you are going to get the answers to help you learn and develop.


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