The Interview: Sean Graham (Foxhills Club & Resort)

The Interview: Sean Graham (Foxhills Club & Resort)


“Never stop learning”, is a popular mantra, and for Foxhills Club & Resort’s new director of golf, Sean Graham, it is especially apt. Despite having only just turned 30, Sean already has an impressive resume, and his work ethic and attitude to the evolution of golf management serves as an inspiration to his fellow PGA Members, including those with years more experience.

As a raw teenager at Wrekin Golf Club near Telford, Sean began his learning process under PGA Professional Matthew Lea, who he described as “the reason I got into the game as a teenager originally,” prompting him to join The PGA at 18. “Matthew provided the environment and support to start with and he was my first experience of a seeing what being a PGA Pro was all about, motivating me to join the Association.”

After a year at Wrekin, Sean was appointed PGA Assistant Professional at Machynys Peninsula before moving on to the acclaimed Marriott Forest of Arden, becoming Golf Coordinator after a year as an assistant pro. Never one to shirk a challenge, Sean accepted the chance to continue his career in golf management with Safaa Golf Club, a private facility in Saudi Arabia.

The PGA have always been incredibly supportive of its members, whether they’re in the UK or abroad, and networking with my fellow PGA professionals ensures I keep learning about the business, and how important it is to keep evolving and adapting to new challenges.

- Sean Graham (Foxhills Club & Resort) - PGA Professional

“Being a PGA Member has given me the opportunity to travel, one of my big priorities back then and a driving influence behind my journey to Saudi Arabia to become a manager at a golf facility when I was just 22 years old,” he said. “I’ve been a member of The PGA for 12 years now, having joined when I was 18, and I haven’t looked back.

“The PGA have always been incredibly supportive of its members, whether they’re in the UK or abroad, and networking with my fellow PGA professionals ensures I keep learning about the business, and how important it is to keep evolving and adapting to new challenges.”

Sean spent almost three years at Safaa, being promoted to Golf Club Manager in that time, but he was then presented with an opportunity to further his development back in Blighty and joined Foxills as Golf Operations and Retail Manager in 2018, working under Director of Golf, Chris Fitt.

“It was a really good experience in Saudi, but it was time to come home,” Sean added. “Chris was great to have as my manager for almost five years, and helped me to develop not just as a manager, but also as a person as well.”

And when Chris departed Foxhills to become CEO at Moor Park in November last year, Sean was ready to step up. “Taking on his role as Director of Golf was a logical progression, and one that I’m entirely comfortable with. I worked well with Chris, got earmarked for the role and felt I was ready to apply for it when Chris decided to move on.

“Foxhills is well known for their internal progression opportunities, which I was well aware of when I returned from Saudi. There’s a real family feel about the place among the staff, and that was key in my decision to join them. We have a really good business model and a fantastic mix in terms of customer demographics. We pride ourselves on providing the best experience for the customer whatever they’re here for, and one of the great things about my role is that no two days are ever really the same.

“In my five years here, it’s never felt stale or static, and there have been many changes for the better. The owners have proved categorically that they are keen to invest and improve the experience year on year, and there’s always something exciting to look forward to. Our facitlties have lent themselves well to an increase in business, and golf has been enjoying a boom since the pandemic.

“We’ve had to adjust to that, and we’ve moved from a membership of just under 3,000 to just over 5,000 in a three-year period, so it’s been a challenge to maintain the customer experience during the significant increase in business, but our entire workforce have come together to achieve that. There’s still room for expansion, but we are getting close to full now, certainly in terms of golf. You can only go so far.”

Despite being still in his 20s when he was appointed Director of Golf, Sean’s all-encompassing skillset has been evident, impressing all of his peers with his attitude, focus and enthusiasm. “You have to be an all-rounder in a role like mine. I manage a fairly large team at Foxhills, peaking at around 25 personnel in the summer, so people management is obviously very important. Staying focused throughout the year is key, and I think that’s one of my particular strengths, as is my financial management and planning.

“The best piece of advice I ever heard was to never stop learning. For every difficult challenge within the business, there’s an opportunity to impress. As a young manager, the more you can learn from various experiences, the more you can influence and the more well-rounded you become in later life.

“Diligent diary management is important in my role, and I make sure I spend time early each day listing out everything I need to achieve. And at the end of the day, it’s vital to analyse what you have achieved, and what you haven’t – and then finding out why. That makes every day a learning experience, and something I’ve been very good at over the past couple of years in particular.

“And it’s not just hitting daily targets. I’ll set goals monthly, and annually, and the reflection at the end of each period, whether it’s a day, month or year, helps you realise where, and how, you can be most productive.”

As well as the day-to-day running of the business, Sean is also aware of the importance of being a positive influence on young PGA pros under his guidance, highlighting the value of the PGA Training Programme.

“The transition has been fairly smooth and that’s testament to the mentoring skills of Chris. I’ve got a young daughter, to managing my work/life balance is crucial, but another challenge I’m looking forward to,” he said. “I’m now a training professional for a few members of my team at Foxhills as they start their PGA journey, and they’ve been learning from myself and Chris and I’m confident we’ve been a positive influence on them.”


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