Martyn's a man on a mission
GOLF clubs have a once in a generation opportunity to benefit from a resurgence of interest in the sport.
So says Martyn Stubbings, the newly-appointed pro at Barnard Castle Golf Club.
Golf was first to be given the green light as the Covid-19 lockdown eased and this has led to many former players dusting off their clubs and heading for the first tee while other sports continue to operate under much tighter restrictions.
It is as a consequence of the pandemic that Mr Stubbings finds himself at Barnard Castle, having spent the past eight-and-a-half years at Rockliffe Hall, the last three as director of golf.
Like the entire leisure sector, Rockliffe Hall was affected by the Covid-19 alert and Mr Stubbings was among the casualties as cutbacks were made.
But as the old saying goes, as one door closes, another opens and opportunity knocked at Barney with the departure of long-serving pro Darren Pearce.
After a successful meeting with club officials, Mr Stubbings took up the post on September 1, spending the first few days meeting members.
First on the agenda is renovating and fitting out the golf shop.
Boosting membership and increasing the number of visiting golfers remain long-term – but not unobtainable – objectives, he says.
“It’ll take two or three weeks to get the golf shop how I want it. I want to make it a really welcoming reception area – it’s the first impression of the club,” he said.
“Increasing membership is a big responsibility, especially in the junior and ladies sections. I think I can do it.
“Hopefully, I can use some of my contacts to bring more visitors to Barnard Castle and take the business forward.
“It’s a stunning golf course, a real asset to the club and offers incredible value for money for members and visitors.”
Mr Stubbings also aims to sell the club to those living on its doorstep.
“I would really like to try to get the local community involved and want to come and spend their time here.”
He added: “Covid has been horrendous – but good for golf. When lockdown eased, golf was one of the only things that was nearly normal. You could not play football or cricket.
“Barnard Castle, as with most golf clubs, has seen membership increase. We have got to work so hard to keep those members and offer the things those members want.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity for clubs to flourish.”
Mr Stubbings has been a golf pro for almost two decades, having become the country’s youngest head professional, aged just 21, at Dinsdale, near Middleton St George. He spent nine years at the course where he learned to play as a junior before moving on to Rockliffe Hall, initially as head pro and then director of golf.
“I love playing. A big part of my job is getting out to play with members and taking part in pro-ams,” he said.
Mr Stubbings also competes in NE/NW PGA events as well as some others elsewhere in the country.
He plans to look at how the club is marketed and aims to increase its profile on social media – targeting part of the tech-savvy community he believes remains untapped.
Dispelling the idea that Barney is “miles away” is also on his “to do “ list.
“Once people are here they will get what I get about the place.”
Initially he will be aided by his father Andy, but plans to bring in a PGA qualified assistant next spring.