No longer do you need to stare blankly when committee heads turn in your direction. Club Volunteer by PGA has to be a sound investment for your club

I’ve spent plenty of committee meetings sat slightly head down, praying no one’s going to ask me what I think.

It was at its worst in the early days, when talk of safeguarding and the intricacies of GDPR flew over my head and are, to be honest, still sailing.

There is security in numbers, of course, but that doesn’t really help if you’re all struggling to pick through the latest piece of legislation affecting your course.

I imagine Covid has been a nightmare for many private members’ clubs, as well-meaning volunteers tried to untangle a knot of mandates and guidance that changed every couple of weeks.

It was hard enough at my home club, the proprietary where I somehow try to justify the position of ‘Rules Secretary’ among the collective. We’ve got owners that, ultimately, make the decisions but who still turn to us for advice.

You can’t find the answers you need about the regional Tier restrictions in a definition of loose impediments.

It’s not so much the lack of knowledge that ruffles me as the empty feeling you get when you realise you can’t help. That’s why people join committees in the first place, isn’t it? To give back to their club?

We are an industry built on volunteers and we need a lift. We need more support to get our clubs through a pandemic and we need more support to ensure they continue to thrive in a world that is changing at dazzling speed.

And yet, until now, there really hasn’t been a whole lot of that – and much of it we’ve cobbled together ourselves. If that sounds crazy, then you are right. It is.

Our committees make decisions at every meeting that weigh into the thousands. They run businesses that turn over millions.

Some do it admirably. Some are left wanting. Many of us have had to find our own way. So when I saw Club Volunteer by PGA, I was intrigued.

As a failed wannabe player, the chance to be a part of the same body that boasts the likes of David Leadbetter and Denis Pugh as members was instantly attractive.

But Club Volunteer by PGA is about more than glory by association; I genuinely believe it could push our committees even further down the road to better governance. 

Back in September, the PGA announced the details of its new 2020 Vision – an initiative that represented one of the most significant changes to the membership structure in the Association’s 119-year history.

The Club Volunteer Group forms a crucial part of that, aiming to pull together people like me who try to support the running of their organisation.

So whether it’s a junior organiser or social secretary, and at whichever club we represent, there’s now a chance get together under the same banner and help each other improve.

That’s a big idea, right? How much good work in committees has fallen under the strain of wishful thinking? But here’s how it will be done. 

Firstly, there’s the practical help. Members of Club Volunteer by PGA will get access to PGA Learn, a vast archive of courses, video, podcasts, webinars, how-to-guides and case studies.

If you’re struggling with club finances, chances are there will be a document to help. If you need to get to the bottom of a particular health and safety issue, a relevant case study could unlock the doors.

It will always be on tap and much of it in a bite-sized format, since we haven’t all got evening to plough through pages to find what we need.

Being a committee member is about a shared experience. You’re in it together and learn from what others have gone through.

This is where Club Volunteer by PGA will really come into its own. Forums will allow us to connect and talk about the things at the heart of our clubs, with PGA staff and industry experts standing by to pitch in with assistance.

We’ll be able to meet – when a vaccine has brought Covid to its knees – at regional and national events and at golf days and breakfast meetings. A members’ conference is even on the cards in 2022.

Club Volunteer by PGA provides the support we need and, at £349, has to be a sound investment. Why wouldn’t your club invest a few hundred quid in its key stakeholders to potentially save tens of thousands down the line?

It’s a hard job being a committee member. We’ve just been given a helping hand. 

For more information on The PGA’s 2020 Vision and how to join Club Volunteer by PGA, visit The PGA’s website.

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Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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