We turn our spotlight on Adrian Pym MIH, Food and Beverage Manager at Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club on Merseyside
Tell us more about your current role and workplace
I am currently the Food and Beverage Manager at Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club on Merseyside. S&A was founded in 1906 and is one of the prestigious courses on England’s Golf Coast alongside Royal Birkdale, Hillside and Formby. The club has a rich history of hosting professional golf tournaments, such as the Ryder Cup in 1933 and 1937, as well as a vibrant membership of around 700. I am responsible for ensuring that the clubhouse experience matches the championship standard course for members and visitors, so goes slightly beyond a normal F&B role, incorporating changing and locker rooms, maintenance and cleaning.
Did you always want to work in hospitality when you were growing up?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I was about 16. I wasn’t as academic as some of my friends, so when I was looking to go to University my interest was more on vocational courses. I had travelled a lot throughout France with my family staying in all types of hotels and restaurants. My father was a keen cook and he encouraged me to help in the kitchen and I loved watching Keith Floyd on TV! I saw the Hotel and Catering Management Degree Course at Portsmouth University and have never looked back.
What do you love most about working in Hospitality?
I love the variety both from a general and personal view. There are so many different types of hospitality and with leisure time becoming more important for people there’s so many different options. It’s a big aspect of anyone’s life, whether it be hotels, restaurants, cruises, sporting/leisure clubs, coffee shops and cafés in shopping centres. There is hospitality opportunities all around us. From a personal view, every day is different so it always keep you on your toes.
Earlier in your career you worked in hotels, why did you decide to make the move to a golf club?
I started my career under the guidance of Jeremy Mort and Allan Holland at the, then, Michelin starred Mallory Court Hotel. I have been a Food & Beverage Manager within the Marriott and Holiday Inn groups as well as working at the four star Clifton Arms Hotel in Lytham St Annes. I wasn’t specifically looking to move away from hotels and had never given golf clubs a thought but I saw the job advertised and applied for it. It was a new role, previously they had just had a bar steward who had left 6 months previous. Standards were low, training non-existent, and the catering operation was franchised out. I was given a vision of where the club wanted to go with its hospitality which was easy to buy into. With my background, it was an opportunity and challenge not to be missed. They wanted the operation to be brought in-house, catering to use fresh ingredients and the clubhouse to reflect the world class, championship standard course. Hospitality and Sport have always been big interests for me, my dissertation was looking at Catering and Hospitality at Sports Stadia following Hillsborough and the Taylor Report, so to be able combine the two was a dream.
What’s the biggest difference between the hotel sector and your current role?
Hospitality in hotels is the raison d’etre but with a golf club the course is the main focus and hospitality is a more ancillary service. That doesn’t mean there can be a slacking of standards but more of a focus to drive standards on but with lower revenue income –we work at much lower GP – to give exceptional value for money for our members.
The hours differ slightly due to seasonality. Being an outdoor sport, I get a lot of early 4pm finishes in the winter but we make up the hours in the summer months.
Our membership, some of whom we can see several times a week, vary in age from 7 to 90, and are split into 4 distinct groups – Seniors, Men, Ladies and Juniors and each have their own requirements, needs, traditions and foibles.
Tell us what you love most about working at Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club?
I love the variety of my job. It’s a very hands on role so meeting and serving the members and visitors is great. One day we could be doing a black tie, formal dinner and the next could be a casual, member’s quiz night or a golf tournament for 160 players. As well as running all the F&B functions from an operational aspect, I also co-ordinate and take the bookings so it means I organise them from every aspect including first meeting and discussions with the host, menu design, bookings, advertising. I love developing staff and seeing them progress and seeing their careers blossom. The club has a friendly, family atmosphere and it is an enjoyable working environment. I receive good backing from the Board of Directors and General Manager which is important as everyone is pulling in the same direction. We have a different Captain each year, and getting to know them and making their year in office really special is very rewarding. A nice perk is also be allowed to play on the course provided I don’t interfere with the members playing so an early morning or late afternoon round of golf with the head chef is an ideal way to get out in the fresh air and discuss things in an informal way.
What has been the most memorable day in your career?
I have always liked working New Year’s Eve with its party feeling but at S&A it takes on a more special feeling as it is also the passing from one captain to another at midnight. There’s a lot of tradition, going back to the founding of the club that has to be adhered to. That also spills into the following day when there is a small panto performed for the members by the new Captain and a few of his friends. There are plenty of formalities, before a Sunday lunch style roast meal. A hectic, busy 30 hours. Last year I was asked by the Captain to show my acting skills in his panto which was a real privilege and good laugh.
What has been the biggest achievement in your career so far?
In 2018, S&A won the Golf Club Catering of the Year Award. To win this award, having started a journey from where we were in 2014 to achieve excellence and recognition, was a huge achievement and a fitting reward for the F&B team that I have the privilege of leading.
What is the best piece of advice you have given one of your team?
The majority of my Front of House Staff are young and often it is their first job. When they start I always say ‘Be yourself, Smile and Enjoy it’.
Tell us three personality traits that you think someone needs to succeed in Hospitality?
Attention and eye for detail – be specific and particular to the minute detail.
Using your initiative – anticipate things before being asked.
Patience – you are dealing with the public, anything can happen.
In 2017, you joined the IoH, what were your main reasons for joining?
To join an industry organisation that would enable me access resources, information and keep in touch with other aspects of the Hospitality Industry. Meeting with fellow professionals and sharing good practice.
Which elements of IoH membership have you found the most valuable?
I like the Management Guides and find them really useful and relevant. I find the Management Standards document really useful in maintaining focus in ensuring that we have the correct processes and ethos at S&A.