The Golf Club Captain’s role

What, exactly, is a Golf Club Captain’s role?

A Golf Club Captain’s role and a Golf Society Captain’s role have common threads, as follows:-

Elected by the Members

  • You are normally elected by the members of the golf society or golf club,
  • Usually for a one year term,
  • You will normally have been elected as Vice-Captain for the previous year,
  • The role is to act as a figurehead for all matters relating to both golf and social events

Other things that are common to both golf societies and golf clubs are as follows: –

Chair meetings

You may also be required to chair the society or golf club’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), although many clubs now have a chairman or president to take on this role.

Arrange team matches

For team matches you will be expected to: –

  • Select the teams to play against the other teams
  • Act as team captain on the day, usually playing first against the opposing team Captain
  • Collate the results as they finish playing

Arrange a Captain’s away day

For golf away days you will be expected to: –

  • Help decide the venues
  • Help select the playing partnerships and order of play

Make speeches

In both cases: –

  • Make a speech at the post match-dinner, which may include a joke or anecdote
  • Announce the results
  • Arrange for the money to be collected for the food, green-fees and gratuities

Some of this may be delegated to your secretary or vice-captain, but you are still responsible to make sure this is all done correctly.

The Captain making a speech at a Society outing

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The duties of a Golf Club Captain

The duties of a golf club Captain depend very much upon the type of club that you belong to and these can be broadly into the following categories: –

  • Member-owned golf clubs
  • Proprietor-owned golf clubs
  • Pay and Play (including some municipal owned golf clubs)

The Captain’s role is slightly different at each, as explained below.

You can see more details of the duties of a golf club Captain here 

Member-Owned Golf Clubs

What is a member-owned golf club?

These are clubs that are owned and managed by the members.The bulk of the clubs that began in the UK before 1970 are member owned clubs.

These clubs elect a committee or board of directors to manage the club on their behalf. Each committee member is elected for a fixed number of year’s duration until they have to stand for re-election or stand down.

The committee is responsible for all fiscal, clubhouse and course development policies and results. As such the committee is entirely responsible for the club policy and financial wellbeing of the club.

The Captain’s role in a member-owned club

The Golf Club Captain’s role as a member-owned club is expected to be fully involved in these policy decisions

The Captain is elected by the members at the AGM, although he or she may have been preselected and recommended by an internal club body.

Some clubs preselect by a meeting of all of the past Captains and some have a selection committee.

It is now common for there to be a Men’s Captain and a Ladies Captain within the club, of equal standing, with a Chairman or President presiding over the club committee.

Some clubs do however still retain the position of Golf Club Captain, who may be of either gender, also taking on the role of Chairman. This is clearly a much more onerous role than where the role is split between Captain and Chairman.

The Golf Club Captain’s role in member-owned clubs is broadly as follows: –

  • To be the figurehead in all matters relating to both golf and social events
  • To attend all committees and sub-committees
  • To act as the club’s representative on all occasions relating to internal and external club events.
  • To raise the profile of the club both internally and externally
  • To encourage member participation in the club
  • To be prominent within the club throughout the year
  • To be approachable and available to all of the membership, championing their issues

Examples of internal events are: –

  • dinner dances
  • club championships
  • club hosted opens
  • Meetings

Examples of external events are

  • local district championships,
  • county championships
  • club hosting of county or national golf competitions.

Click here to see more details of a golf club Captain’s responsibilities

Proprietor-owned clubs

What is a proprietor-owned golf club?

Proprietor-owned clubs have proliferated in the UK since the 1970s. 

In the York area before the 1980s there were only seven clubs, all member-owned clubs. Now there are fourteen clubs within the York Union of Golf Clubs, seven of which are proprietary owned and three more that are not in the union.

These are clubs where landowners, farmers or businessmen have converted farmland into golf courses. Many of these also have restaurant, leisure centre and holiday home facilities. 

Most, but not all, are targeted at corporate and function based business, such as weddings, corporate golf days and hotel play- and-stay packages. 

Clearly, given that the owner needs to make a good profit, all of the policy and monetary decisions tend to remain with the owner. Whereas in a members-owned golf club, it is the committee who is responsible for the financial wellbeing of the club, in a proprietary club it is the owner who is responsible.  

The Captain’s role in a proprietor-owned golf club

The committees of these proprietary clubs tend to be involved only with social and golfing matters rather than policy making. All decisions need the approval of the owner.  

The Golf Club Captains of proprietor owned clubs are therefore largely involved as a figurehead in matters relating to golf and social events rather than in policy making.

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Pay-and-Play (including some municipal-owned golf clubs)

What are these types of golf clubs?

There are a also a large number of golf courses that are largely pay-and-pay facilities.  

That is where you turn up, pay for a greens ticket, wait in the queue and then play your round. You do not need to have previously joined the club as a member. Some of these are proprietor-owned and some are council (municipal) owned. 

Some of these don’t have a club membership, and don’t hold any club competitions. They are content just to provide an easy to access golfing facility. People who play these types of course therefore have no way to gain an official handicap (in the UK) or to play competitive golf, unless they play in a golf league which is popular in the US, where pay-and-play is more prevalent. 

The advantage of these types of clubs to golfers is that they are relatively inexpensive, having no joining fee or annual subscription. Consequently they open up the sport of golf up to many who would not otherwise be able to afford to play.  

The Captain’s role in a pay-and-play golf club

There are some enlightened pay-and-play clubs that do support a limited membership, for a very reasonable sum, and that arrange competitions and play matches against other clubs. Quite a few municipal clubs do this. 

Where this happens, these clubs have a small committee to arrange the matches and competitions. They usually also elect a Captain who’s duties are very similar to a Captain of a proprietor-owned club.

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