'Golf clubs need more female managers'
By her own admission, Debbie Pern’s appointment as club manager of Deeside Golf Club in Scotland 17 years ago was probably seen as a bold move.
In an industry dominated by men, Pern was one of the first women in her role, but fast forward to 2020 and Deeside’s “risk” has paid off in spades, with turnover soaring and Pern herself becoming a leading light for other females to follow.
“I think the captain and council at the time probably took a risk in taking me on,” she says. “However, I was very passionate and my gender doesn’t influence any decisions that I make.
“I think in general manager positions, it makes absolutely no difference at all whether you’re female or male. We’re all passionate about the job we do and we get the same results if we’re driven.”
In the last ten years a handful of other golf clubs across Scotland have recruited female managers, and Pern believes the trend will continue as clubs recognize the benefits of having a diverse management team.
“I think the next generation coming through will see many, many more female general managers,” she continues.
“Mostly I see a difference in Europe and particularly going over to America. Some of the top clubs in America are now run by female general managers, which is fantastic.
“I think the global industry would hugely benefit from more female club managers. We bring a completely new dynamic to the whole ethos of what golf clubs are about.”
And Pern’s influence, combined with her expertise in hospitality, has brought success to Deeside.
“When I joined, the F&B operation was virtually non-existent. They were serving tins of macaroni to the members and thought it was acceptable,” she says.
“We’ve gone from a turnover of £70,000 up to about £450,000. I’ve created completely new kitchen and front of house teams, and my passion for working at the coal face has really helped.
“I think food and beverage in the golf industry is not given high enough profile. There’s not enough investment, creativity or rebuilding of the social aspect of it.”
Pern is a shining example and wants others to follow.
“I would encourage any female to get into golf club management,” she says. “It’s the best job in the world.”