Gary McGlinchey - From Deer Park to Doha

Gary McGlinchey - From Deer Park to Doha


PGA Member Gary McGlinchey talks about his journey from YTS assistant at Deer Park in his native Scotland to a globe-trotting career that has seen him experience a variety of positions at prestigious clubs in Scotland, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, before moving to his current role as general manager at Doha Golf Club in Qatar, where he has worked since 2015.

After the recent hosting of the Qatar Masters, he is currently busy preparing the club ahead of the country’s staging of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

What attracted you to working overseas in the first instance?

After leaving my first job as a YTS trainee at Deer Park Golf Club in 1989, I worked as a trainee assistant at East Sussex National Golf Club, where a Canadian PGA Professional called Paul Dellanzo was my boss. Paul left ESN at the end of 1991 to become a golf club consultant, and he was involved in setting up Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, which was preparing to open. They were looking for teaching pros to work at the new academy there and Paul asked if I’d be interested, and I jumped at the opportunity. I left ESN mid-way through 1992 and started working at Dubai Creek six months before the official opening of the club in January 1993. I assisted in the recruitment and training of 50 golf operations staff and all the preparations for the opening of what was a $50m facility.

What was your next move after that?

Paul [Dellanzo], who, as you will discover, has been extremely influential in my career, took on the role of general manager at Loch Lomond in 1994. The club had just been bought out of receivership by the Lyle Anderson Group, and Paul asked whether I’d come on board to help set up the golf operations side of things as they looked to establish the club as a new benchmark for service in the UK.

I stayed there for a year before following Paul out to Doha Golf Club in 1996, where he served as its first general manager and I took on the role of golf operations manager. I had five very busy and enjoyable years there, setting up all the junior golf programmes and running golf operations, and was centrally involved in the preparations and hosting of four editions of the European Tour’s Qatar Masters from 1998-2001.

On the back of that I went on to become general manager at the Qatar Golf Association, where I was involved with all the commercial aspects of staging the Qatar Masters, as well as supervising the training of Qatar Golf Academy coaches and developing programmes to introduce Qatari nationals to the game.
I left there in 2006 to undertake short spells working as Director of Golf at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore and Brisbane Golf Club in Australia, before I returned to the Middle East in 2008, where I worked as CEO of Arabian Golf, a wholesale golf retailer with two outlets and distribution throughout the gulf states. During that time, I also was employed as a technical advisor for the Saudi Golf Federation.

I returned to Doha Golf Club as Director of Golf in 2015, and was promoted to general manager in 2016, where I have been ever since.

What does a typical working day involve?

Mornings are typically spent in meetings with our golf course superintendent and our golf service manager, and then I often have lunch meetings with customers and suppliers, while board meetings are usually in the evenings. I get out for nine holes at least three times a week and usually play in members’ competitions once a week.  


What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?

Preparing the facility to host the Qatar Masters has been extremely rewarding, ensuring the team are in place and the course is in good condition, while trying to ensure this standard is provided year-round for our members is also a top priority. We all feel very proud when the tour officials and tour players praise our venue and appreciate the hospitality they receive during the tournament.

I also take great pleasure seeing our juniors develop into talented golfers and polite young adults. Our academy has helped shape careers for many kids over the years, some going onto golf scholarships and some turning pro. I should put a special mention in for PGA Professional Clarke Lutton, who left us for Gleneagles in 2018 and is now Head Professional at Murrayshall in Scotland.

And what are the most challenging parts of the role?

Maintaining the quality of playing surfaces throughout the year is always a challenge – the summers out here are extremely hot. Convincing board members and government stakeholders to continually invest in our club operations, and carry out necessary capital improvements, is also a constant battle, but one which I’m hopefully winning!

You’ve been working in Qatar on and off for almost 25 years. What was it like living and working their when you first went out there and how has the country changed over that period?

As I mentioned earlier, I was in Qatar for the first Qatar Masters in 1998 which was won by Andrew Coltart. Doha was like a small village back then, and Doha Golf Club was 30 minutes out of town. The city has moved north since then with lots of development over the last 25 years, and much like Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, Doha Golf Club is now in a very central location.

When I first arrived, people entertained at their homes as there were very few restaurants or hotels in town, and the golf club became a hub for expat social activities. Although we are still busy, we have much more competition in town with dozens of new five-star hotels and international quality restaurants for members and guests to choose from.

What impact will the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on the country as a whole, and is Doha Golf Club involved in any way?  

It’s had a huge impact over the last four years, with budgets for all other sports, including golf, being cut to prioritize funding for the World Cup. Doha Golf Club will be a venue for multiple fan entertainment activations, including as an F&B destination, concerts, footgolf, and, of course, our regular golf courses will be busy. We also operate Doha Sports Park, which has four football pitches, rugby fields, horse riding and baseball. We currently have some negotiations ongoing to use our venue as ‘glamping’ site during the World Cup. 

Where do you see the next stage of your career taking you?

I’d be happy to retire when my time in Qatar comes to an end and spend more time with my family, and support my son, who has ambitions to be a tour player.

Have you had any mentors during your career or people who you have been able to lean on for advice? If so, who and what have you learned from them?

Paul Dellanzo, Phil Lewin, Peter Downie, Scott Evans and Campbell Elliott all remain great friends and have helped me throughout my career professionally and personally.

What three words would your colleagues use to describe your management style?

Tough, impatient and fun.

What do you know now that you wish you’d have known when you first started out?

I regret not buying property earlier than I did, today my investments have created my financial security not my salary.

What advice would you pass on to other PGA Members who may be interested in working abroad in general and Qatar specifically?

Be patient, as different cultures don’t always do things quickly. I’ve had many PGA Pros join my teams over the years, some are still in the same job 20 years later and some left after six months because they didn’t like this or that.  If you plan to go overseas, visit the country for a holiday first to check it out.  Then if you do take a job you should commit for two years minimum. You have to be adaptable to new cultures and new ways of working and not to expect others to fall in line with your way of doing things. And, most importantly, remember to smile – it doesn’t cost anything and it crosses many cultural and language barriers!


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