New in post: David Ashington

New in post: David Ashington

26/10/2022

David Ashington, the recently appointed Director of Golf at PGA Cataluyna Golf & Wellness in Spain, talks about his career path, his first impressions of the prestigious venue and his future plans in the role.

What has been your career path to date?

I grew up near Birmingham and qualified as a PGA Director of Golf in 2005, aged 30. I decided to work in Europe, so joined the team at Golden Eagle Residence & Golf Resort near Lisbon in Portugal, moving five years later to the nearby Westin Campo Real Golf Resort. In 2012, I led the pre-opening of the golf course at Royal Óbidos Spa & Golf Resort as Commercial Director, and two years later oversaw the opening of the resort’s world-class boutique hotel.

In 2016, I became Director of Sales & Hospitality at Monte Rei in the Algarve, and, six years on, I am at PGA Catalunya Golf and Wellness, Spain’s No.1 golf resort, as Director of Golf.

What attracted you to working overseas in the first instance?

The European resort environment was very appealing, especially the opportunities to grow professionally. It’s enabled me to expand my skillset into the wider golf hospitality market.

What is the scope of your role at PGA Catalunya?

My main responsibilities at PGA Catalunya lie in three core business segments – commercial, operational and strategic. My job is to ensure all key stakeholders are aligned with our long-term vision and identify the steps and changes needed to keep the team on track to achieve that vision.

How does the new job differ from your last role at Monte Rei?

PGA Catalunya Golf and Wellness is a much bigger venue. There are two golf courses, two hotels, a recently opened wellness centre, a state-of-the-art Golf Hub that combines high-tech performance analysis with fun social experience through its Toptracer Range technology, as well as a host of other amenities – all of which appeal to a much broader market demographic than was an offer at Monte Rei.

How are you finding the new role and what does a typical working day involve?

My daily morning dog walk enables me to check the golf courses before heading into the office to meet with the operations manager. Although each day is different, my time is currently spent developing commercial strategies in key areas we want to evolve, with a particular focus on Q4 to close a strong 2022 and looking ahead at Q1 2023 to start the year positively.

What areas of the resort’s golf operations are you looking to enhance and what future plans does the resort have?

Enhancing our customer journey and improving several operational areas are key objectives in the short and medium term. We have also implemented a new staff training plan to ensure increased levels of service, part of which, includes sending key staff members to other elite resorts around the world in the low season to gain hands-on experience in the high-end, ultra-luxury segment.

What do you see as being the most challenging parts of your new role?

I am grateful that the CEO and board members of PGA Catalunya share the same vision and are aligned on the long-term goals. The challenge lies in putting all the mechanisms in place here and now to deliver initial results in the short term.

 Have you had any mentors during your career or people who you have been able to lean on for advice?

My first boss Steve Ellis, a traditional golf pro in the UK, who I worked under for 11 years, was instrumental in shaping my career. I still reference the advice and lessons he gave me.

After making the move to Portugal, Eduardo Johnston da Silva, CEO and Director of Praia D’el Rey and Royal Óbidos Golf Resort, became a great mentor.

Two pieces of advice that have stayed with me throughout my career are: make sure you and the board are aligned on the vision, and never take your eyes off the end goal.

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

It isn’t so much known, but more been exposed to. In my early years, it would have been great to have closer working relationships with the hotel, the F&B department and other hospitality teams within the resort because, as a golf director of a large venue, you need that kind of knowledge to create cohesive strategies and build effective inter-departmental teams.

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

I’d recommend taking the PGA Director of Golf course – the training will broaden your knowledge for the challenges ahead. Thoroughly research your areas of interest to make sure you will enjoy the lifestyle on and off the resort. I would also recommend making an effort to learn the local language – I speak Portuguese fluently and am now learning Spanish.

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