Inside Golf : Inside Golf Mar 2016
inside golf business - general managers 16 March 2016 | www.insidegolf.com.au GM Di Fisher a ‘royal’ first David Newber y firstname.lastname@example.org GENERAL manager Di Fisher didn’t set out to create history in Australia, but she did when appointed the first woman boss of a “royal” golf club in the country ... and arguably the world. Royal Hobart Golf Club broke with almost 100 years of tradition when it hired Ms Fisher and then tested her decision-making skills before she had even started work. “I was on the Spirit of Tasmania coming across from Melbourne when I received a call from club captain Robert Upton saying the caterer had resigned,” Ms Fisher explained. “ The club had always had contracted caterers, but I made the decision that we’d have a crack at doing it ourselves. “ We employed a chef and it has been terrific. The members have embraced the move and are supporting the restaurant.” Ms Fisher’s next important assignment was to oversee the completion of the club’s $1.4m clubhouse refurbishment. “ When I arrived the clubhouse’s top storey was an open shell,” she said. “I had to jump straight into that because we had a September 11 deadline, which was the day the Governor (Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AM) was scheduled to open the new development. “ We got there, but I think we still had wet paint on the walls when she arrived to open it.” Now Ms Fisher is working with the board on another important project – Royal Hobart’s centenary celebrations in April. “ The club has been planning it for 10 years,” she said. “We have invited the 66 ‘royal’ clubs from around the world and many of those clubs will be attending along with the R&A. “It’s going to be a week of activities culminating in a centenary ball at Wrest Point Tasmania.” I ask Ms Fisher how the club’s 1077 members reacted to her appointment after almost 100 years of male domination. “ The members have been terrific and welcomed me when I arrived,” she said. “A lot said they welcomed the change and looked forward to having a female general manager. “It shows that the board is very progressive and the fact they’ve appointed me to the role speaks volumes of the fantastic work they do. “ The job is a dream come true.” Born and bred in country Victoria, Ms Fisher is well-known in golf circles having represented Victoria at junior and senior level. She played pennant for Huntingdale Golf Club and was club champion at the Grange and Stawell golf clubs as well as Wimmera district champion. Ray Drummond spotted her talent and convinced her to move to Melbourne to further her golf. She did and he offered her a job in his Collins Place store. “I migrated into golf administration working for Women’s Golf Victoria for 15 years as tournament manager.” Her first general manager’s post was at Gisborne Golf Club followed by a stint at Hidden Valley Golf and Country Club and Northern Golf Club before snaring the role at Royal Hobart. Ms Fisher says she has a number of goals for the club including hosting a national event and raising the profile of junior golf in Tasmania. “Given that Royal Hobart hosted the 1971 Australian Open (won by Jack Nicklaus), it would be terrific if we could host a national event again,” she said. “I also have a real soft spot for junior golf and would like to see Royal Hobart become a leader in developing juniors. “I think it’s sad that Tasmania could not field a junior team this year and had to combine with the ACT and Northern Territory.” When it comes to managing the club, Ms Fisher says she is “a good listener”. “I always say I have big ears and a small mouth,” she said. “It’s about listening to your members and trying to provide them with the best services and golf course possible. “As managers, we’d all love to be Augusta and I know some members do expect Augusta standards but that’s unrealistic. “I like to think that good service is what attracts people to your club. We are in the hospitality industry and have to make sure our staff and services are top notch. “If someone comes to the club, we must make sure they feel welcome and they want to join.” Ms Fisher is clearly passionate about her work and can’t wait to start work each day. “ The best thing about my job is turning up at Royal Hobart every day and being paid for it,” she said. “I get to contribute and there is nothing more rewarding than coming up with an initiative and seeing it come to fruition, especially when it benefits the club and members and generates income.” So, is Ms Fisher a workaholic? “ Work is something I love and it may sound sad but it’s my social life as well,” she laughed. “I am a single mum and family and work is pretty much it.” • History-making general manager Di Fisher. GOLD COAST SUNSHINE COAST QUEENSTOWN, N.Z. 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Inside Golf Feb 2016
Inside Golf, April 2016