Successful siblings: meeting PGA Professionals Lynn and Liam McCool

Successful siblings: meeting PGA Professionals Lynn and Liam McCool


Experienced Directors of Golf at Glasson Lakehouse and Carton House respectively, siblings Lynn and Liam McCool took different paths to their high-profile roles gaining a wealth of experience along the way throughout the industry.

Lynn and Liam McCool grew up like any other brother and sister – with a healthy sibling rivalry that soon spilled into golf.

The fairways were an unlikely calling because their mother didn’t play golf at all while their father played off 25. “Work that one out,” Liam laughs. Yet with Strabane Golf Club, south of Derry, running adjacent to the family home, the curious pair would scale the walls where their respective talents soon emerged.

An Irish international, Lynn would earn a scholarship to America where she battled Annika Sorenstam on multiple occasions. Liam, meanwhile, opted to undertake his PGA training at Malone under the tutelage of Peter O’Hagan.

From Hawaii to Belfast, their love of the game blossomed on both sides of the Atlantic and after two years on the Ladies European Tour, Lynn eventually followed Liam down the club pro route at City of Derry Golf Club.

Neither McCool has looked back ever since. Now proud Directors of Golf – Lynn at Glasson Lakehouse, in Co Westmeath, and Liam at Carton House, in Co Kildare, the experienced siblings boast an enviable resume that extends to some of the finest venues in the UK and Ireland.

Did you both expect to end up in a management role?

Lynn: I did. I was very fortunate working under Michael Doherty in Derry because he gave me an insight into all facets of the industry at a very young age, from the management of the shop and the wider club to doing his books and stock control, an opportunity not many people get in their first year as an assistant. Having also played in America and visited so many top resorts, I got an idea as to what great customer service truly is, and that’s stood to me in my resort jobs ever since.

Liam: Yes, after playing and teaching a lot in the early part of my career, I expected my role to evolve. Working in both members’ and proprietary-run clubs equipped me well for that. Busy clubs like Slieve Russell and Luttrellstown definitely helped broaden my skillset and allowed my management career to develop.

Did the reality of a management role match your perception?

Lynn: I think so. I was lucky because in my first job at Hilton Templepatrick, I worked with the hotel, so by the time I moved to the Director of Golf role, I was well versed in the goings on of the wider resort. Through weekly meetings and training I’d been introduced to budgeting, meeting targets, marketing for the year and planning ahead. It was a discipline I never would’ve realised was necessary having initially been a teaching pro.

Liam: Like anything, it’s an adjustment. You can get sucked into the office more than you’d think but that’s all part of it, and you’ve got to make your own time to mix with the members and the team. It’s important that I oversee the areas I’m responsible for on a daily basis but I’d never ask any of my team to do anything I wouldn’t do. It comes with experience but making sure you’re speaking with your team on a daily basis is something they’ll really respect.

What are the pros and cons of being a manager?

Lynn: I love it. You’re getting to meet members every day and visitors from all walks of life – and that’s exciting. There can be long hours at the desk during winter but if you can plan well enough in advance, then come the season you can be there to meet and greet and provide that unforgettable experience. So much depends on having the right team around you, and we have that at Glasson. Communication is vitally important, both with the hotel and each other, and that’s what makes us strong.

Liam: You can obviously encounter tricky situations so people skills are really important. If you can turn a complaint into a positive and the person leaves your office wondering why they went into it in the first place, that’s a big achievement. Surrounding yourself with people who want to work for you is very satisfying too. Watching the team developing their skills and ultimately progressing their careers is extremely rewarding.

Is there pressure to hit targets?

Lynn: Of course but that’s part of the job. We’re in a very busy hotel so making sure we can get the availability for members and guests on the tee-sheet is crucial. Getting that balance right is always a challenge.

Liam:  Promoting the huge work we’ve done at Carton House in recent years to highlight our status as a five-star brand to a wider international market is a main focus. Keeping the team happy and motivated in their work is always important, and managing the tee sheet given we’ve hotel guests, members, societies and corporates looking for time across two championship courses is always a priority.

As a busy resort that employs over 300 people, there is definitely a responsibility there. We have monthly meetings to ensure we’re where we need to be in the short, medium and long term but it’s the way of the working world. It’s become very target driven.

How would you describe yourself as a manager?

Lynn: A forward-thinker. I understand the value of the team around me, and most importantly, I want to make the working environment fun.

Liam: A good communicator. Fair, and with high expectations and standards. I put my team first, and try to help them with their own personal goals and development.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Lynn: I would hope they’d describe me as a fair person, and that there’s a fun side to me as well. And that I’ve helped create an environment in which everyone works to the same standards and procedures to ensure we’re never letting each other down.

Liam: I hope the fact I take such a great interest in them, and that I’m to the point and straight talking and that I don’t let anything fester, would mean they’d hopefully think I’m fair.

How would you describe each other as fellow Directors of Golf?

Lynn: I would think Liam has a lot of respect for me. We interact a lot. We’re not afraid to ask each other questions.

We value each other’s opinion. We’re on the same wavelength. I’ve a tremendous amount of respect for Liam. He’s a people person, a very hard worker and I think he’d probably say the same about me.

Liam: I think Lynn would describe me as hard-working, dedicated to my job, very respectful and very personable.

Describe the corporate structure at your club and how you fit into it?

Lynn: On-site, we have our General Manager Conor O’Leary who I work closely with. In the hotel we have the  Food and Beverage Manager, the Sales Manager and myself and we sit down for Head of Department meetings weekly, and weekly sales and marketing meetings. They’d be the key relationships at the club.

Liam: I have a great relationship with our General Manager, Martin Mangan, and we have a very good executive team. I work closely with our Commercial Director, Triona Flood. We have weekly commercial meetings which cover all aspects of the hotel, and it actually educates me on areas outside of golf which is great for my personal development.

How important is building a rapport with the members to your roles?

Lynn: Essential. We have 325 members and it’s growing. The condition of the golf course is vital to their experience at Glasson but they’re such great people who want to enjoy their golf, enjoy some food and drink and ultimately support the club.

Liam: It’s a must. I’ve always had strong relationships with the captains and members of each club I’ve been attached. They’re the heartbeat of any golf club and a clear communication line with your committee is key to your success.

If you could change anything about your career journey, what would it be?

Lynn: Looking back on my career, I’ve done pretty well. On the playing side, the competitor in me believes I was a better tour player than the results I was getting, but as a manager, I’ve worked at fantastic venues and enjoyed great relationships along the way. I’ve been very lucky.

Liam: I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve been very fortunate to work at top-class resorts throughout my career and I have no regrets.

Is there one piece of advice from your training that you come back to today?

Lynn: A great line I’ll always come back to is: ‘Engage brain before opening mouth!’ As a young manager you can be inclined to jump straight into things. Take your time and think on it.

Liam: Don’t be afraid to say no. You’ll always do your best for your members and customers but you can’t say yes to everything.

If you could offer one piece of advice to a peer going down the managerial route, what would it be?

Lynn: Be prepared. Understand the business side. It’s not just meet and greet. You need to have your preparation done 12 to 18 months in advance to get results. At the end of the day, whoever you’re working for wants results, as well as you being nice to people.

Liam: Try to travel as much as you can. Don’t think when you get into a job that you have to be there all your life. There are so many opportunities in Ireland and further afield. Five or six years is a good term at any club. It freshens things up to then set yourself a new challenge.


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