GCMA Midlands Region

A Work-in-Progress History of the GCMA - Midland Region 

The first meeting of the (National) Association was held at Cuddington Golf Club, Surrey on the 21st July 1933. Following a round of golf, at the dinner in the clubhouse afterwards the formation of the Golf Club Secretaries Association was agreed. However, this name was changed in 1934 to The Association of Golf Club Secretaries, at a time when the majority of golf clubs were run by Honorary Secretaries, often serving on an annual basis, and being subjected to annual election at their Clubs Annual General Meeting. From a Midland Region perspective, it is interesting to note that Mr W Bigwood of Little Aston Golf Club is depicted on a cartoonists impression of Officials and Members of the Committee dated 1934. In 1983 the National Association returned to Cuddington to celebrate the Golden Jubilee and in 2008 also staged a special 75th celebratory golf and dinner event at the Club.

The Association grew out of these early pioneers meeting together locally to exchanging views at informal meetings, which naturally led to social golf and the basis of the Association to which we all belong today. There was a recognition of the value of these local gatherings, but it wasn’t until 1955 that several areas were approached with a view to becoming affiliated Regions to a national body. Over time, Clubs began to recognise that with the ever increasing responsibilities and workload being delegated to their volunteers, it was time for change. Many decided to employ a full time salaried Secretary or Secretary/Manager. 

The Midland Region of the Association of Golf Club Secretaries was first formed in 1956 by Guy Bigwood, son of the original founder member Mr W Bigwood, who at the time was a member and Honorary Secretary of Blackwell Golf Club. He was a well known Birmingham businessman, who also had golfing connections with both Little Aston and Edgbaston Golf Clubs. A fuller history of Guy Bigwood’s contribution to golf will be published at a later date.

Unfortunately these early beginnings did not bear the fruit of continued success and the Region gradually dissolved after only a few years. 

However, the national Association continued to grow but change was still required within the organisation and the AGM in 1973 at Kings Norton Golf Club, marked an early victory for sexual equality. The rules were changed to allow female Secretaries to become members.  

Coincidentally, the Midland Region was re-formed in 1973 and the first Regional Secretary was Paddy Hope from Walmley Golf Club. At that time, the previous Midland Region had covered a large area of England and Wales, stretching from Skegness in the East to Aberdovey in the West. However, with the re-forming came a reduction in the geographical area defined as ‘Midland’ and in the same year a Welsh Region was created and took the clubs on the Welsh side of the border.  The region was further reduced in 1993 when the East Midlands Region was formed, taking the Counties (or parts thereof) of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, and Nottinghamshire. Both of these changes were driven by the long distances involved for some members to attend meetings and matches. 

The first Captain of the Region was Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Barry Mathews, from Edgbaston Golf Club, who was at that time, the only full time paid Secretary in the Region, all the others being Honorary. The Birmingham connection of these clubs is notable.

Paddy Hope remained the Regional Secretary until 1983 when the reins were handed over to David McAllister from Handsworth Golf Club. It was in 1986 that John Bissell took over as Secretary. At that time he was Secretary at Craythorne Golf Club. When he retired in 2009 a tribute to John appeared in the GCMA magazine, having been written by Bob Fletcher, a former Secretary of Sutton Coldfield Golf Club and member of the Midland region. The tribute can be viewed here 

John sadly passed away in 2013 with many of his friends and colleagues from the Midland Region paying their final respects at a service in Burton-on-Trent. 

Adrian Dibble took over from John in 2009 and retired at the AGM held at Brocton Hall Golf Club in October 2015. In the months prior to his retirement, Adrian had overseen the changes to the constitution of the Midland region to coincide with those of the national organisation following its Incorporation in 2014. Adrian was the Secretary of Little Aston Golf Club between 1991 and 2003 when he retired. Adrian was succeeded by Rob Wormstone who had retired from Bloxwich Golf Club in March 2014, having served as Secretary/Manager from December 2004.

A ballot to decide the proposal for the National Association to change its name to Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA) was approved at the Annual General Meeting in Cardiff on 29th March 2007. At the same time, the Region also changed its name to GCMA Midland Region, reflecting the evolving role of the Club Manager from the early days of an Honorary role to that of a professional manager with the diversity of skills that are required today. The Association was further developed at the 2014 AGM held in Conwy when it was Incorporated as a Limited Liability entity with an elected Board of Directors. Over the ensuing years, the Constitutions of all Regions have been amended to comply with the structure of the Limited Liability Company, to give the organisation that we know today. The Association has grown from humble beginnings to be the premier organisation providing education and training to golf club management personnel. 

Over the years, members of the Midland Region have served on National Committees to the benefit of Association members. In recent history Bob Lanyon (Brocton Hall GC), David Paterson (Sandwell Park GC), and Clive Hadley (Copt Heath GC) have served as National Captains. In the early years, the Regional Secretary was also the National Executive Committee (NEC) Representative, with John Bissell undertaking the role. In 2000 the rules were changed to delegate this role to an elected representative with Ian Thomson who was Secretary at Hatchford Brook GC elected to be our first NEC Representative. Our first female representative at NEC level was Sue LeBeau from South Staffordshire GC 

2016 will be the 43rd Anniversary of the founding of the Midland Region; it is in good health with a robust membership who support Regional activities, an organising committee committed to providing educational support to all, and an active number of retired members who are always on hand with experience aplenty. In all, a Region to be proud to be associated with.  

You can read a fuller history of the National Association by clicking here

Published February 2016

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