Do clubs really need a captain?
Steve Carroll: A strange thing will happen to me in April. I will become club captain at Sandburn Hall, the course at which I’m a member in York.
I feel both excited and apprehensive about being asked to fulfil this role and the planning is feverishly under way – such as selecting a charity for the year and organising the captain’s weekend away.
Whether you’re at a proprietary club (like mine) or one run by the members, it’s almost certain you’ll have a captain (male, female or both) representing you over the course of the year.
In the light of getting ready to spend 12 months immersed in club matters, what I am asking this week is: Do clubs really need a captain?
Is the captain an important figure in representing members’ concerns or is it an archaic tradition that has had its day?
Do skippers really need to get involved in the nitty-gritty of club affairs or should we trust secretaries, club managers and directors of golf to do what they are paid for?
Is it another example of golf failing to get into the modern age or is it a time-honoured institution that’s still relevant?
Mark Townsend: For me an irrelevance. Don’t want to have to call someone I addressed as ‘Dave’ one day, ‘Mr Captain, sir’ the following day once he has fanned a driver into some deep bund to polite, bored applause.
If you want a figurehead then spread it out among a handful of well-meaning individuals and let them handle a few days each. They can then bring their own ideas as to adding their own little twist to things.
Everyone I’ve ever met who I would regard as the ideal captain is put off by the faff, expense and time that it would take, carrying out a small fraction of the duties might change their minds.
This way there would be no need for ridiculous parking spots and I wouldn’t feel the need to curtsy to Dave every Saturday morning.
SC: I must confess the whole ‘Mr Captain’ thing makes me shudder. Luckily, there’ll be none of that at Sandburn Hall. No parking space for me…
JU: Having never been a member of a golf club I don’t actually know what a captain does apart from make a few speeches. All a bit pointless really isn’t it? Especially if you don’t even get a parking spot…
Tom Irwin: Mr Captain, I think it is pretty good actually.
Rallying the various teams, presenting prizes, a different voice at committee meetings, greeting visitors, and being a figurehead are all worth while things.
For the captain there are various playing privileges, it is a great way of recognising years of loyal membership, and for someone with plenty of free time (and money) I suspect an honour rather than a chore.
You don’t have to be a pompous knob in a blazer to be club captain, how you go about it is up to you.
Thomas A Irwin BA MBA RSVP
Setting an example…
Dan Murphy: Golf clubs, like most clubs I imagine, are built largely on the efforts of their members. Allied to the expertise of good managers and professionals, and you have a thriving club.
More often than not, though, long after that high-flying young manager or ambitious pro has moved on to further their career (if they were footballers we’d call them mercenaries), it will be left to the members to pick up the pieces and breathe new life into the club.
For a year, the captain is expected to bear the brunt and carry out all manner of time-consuming and expensive duties, few of which he or she will typically be qualified for.
Does that mean I want to bow in front of them every Saturday morning or be subjected to long speeches at the end of every function? No it doesn’t.
Do I respect them for setting an example by giving up their time (and money), having the best interests of the club at heart and trying to support an institution that has played a big part in their lives? Absolutely.
SC: You will bow before me Dan…
James Savage: Think there’s often a bit too much pomp and circumstance about the club captain.
But golf clubs will struggle to be fit for purpose without volunteers putting in their own time to make things happen.
The captain has a bit more responsibility and has to do a bit more which why it needs to be passed around.
Clubs should have captains but car parking spaces should be scrapped.
It’s one of the worst things about golf clubs as it creates a barrier before you’ve even got out of the car.