By Michael Davis

NEW Flinders general manager John McKay was on the first tee at the picturesque Mornington Peninsula club weeks before he officially started in the role.

It was the club championship and he spent six hours making sure he met everyone personally.

So before he even started work, the members knew him and liked what they saw.

“I am definitely a people person and think it’s important to be very visible when you are in this position,” John told Inside Golf.

He comes to one of the best, most scenic golf courses on the Peninsula with an impressive background in marketing and hospitality, including a decade with Crown Melbourne in its very early, squeaky clean days. While at Crown he spent a lot of time at The Capital Golf Club hosting VIP members and celebrities. 

He was also the GM at Heritage Golf and Country Club for three years, helping the club woo back members and to get them to see the value of their membership.  It had been a torrid time for members and membership had been waning despite the superb Jack Nicklaus and Tony Cashmore courses available to them in Melbourne’s outer east. 

McKay has also operated several iconic Melbourne hotels and worked for sports global management company, TLA Worldwide, which is owned by former Collingwood premiership player Craig Kelly.

In fact, he was on the Magpies’ list for a couple of AFL seasons and was there when they won the drought-breaking 1990 flag.

“I was never a chance to get a senior game but it was great fun being there,” he said.

Flinders Golf Club general manager John McKay.

His family is steeped in sport. Brother Mike was a member of the Oarsome Foursome Olympic rowing team and his father Reg, who passed away early last year, was a legendary Rowing Australia President and Olympic and International official for decades.

John McKay cut his teeth in golf as a youngster at Anglesea Golf Club and now plays off a respectable handicap of 12.

With Flinders travelling a somewhat rocky road in recent times, he is not about to fall for the trap of becoming the ‘new broom’ that ‘sweeps’ everything clean.

“I have an extensive background in hospitality, marketing and communications,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had some amazing roles.

“The skill set I have with the catering and hotel management, marketing and communications and golf, as well as being a people person, is what I bring to the club. 

“My number one priority is putting out a great experience for the members and bringing them together. It’s no secret there has been a bit of turmoil here over the last 18 to 24 months. So we want to clean all that up and make it a fantastic venue.

“I also like the idea that we have green fee players. And there’s the opportunity here to do corporate golf days which I think is fantastic situation to be in.”

McKay said he has been blown away by the camaraderie among the members at Flinders.

He felt the vibe when he met them all on the first tee for six hours as they hit off in the club championship.

“That was the thing that attracted me to the club. I thought it would be a great way to show my faith in the club even before I had started in the job,” he said.

“The one thing I was drawn to was what a welcoming group the members were. They gave me a real feeling that they were happy to see me. 

“As I said, there’s been a little turmoil. We’ve had Covid and the club has not been open. They were excited to get back here and play golf with their mates on an amazing golf course. 

“I was really excited after that because they just came across as a really good bunch of members. It was pretty impressive.

“There was no one who was stand-offish. They were very welcoming, wanting me to have a game of golf and a beer with them.

“At the moment, the number one goal is to get the club open seven days a week. Staff has been a real issue for us, as it has around the country. So I am very pleased that as of next week we will be open seven days.  

“In the lead-up to the Christmas period we did have a lot of visitors who wanted to play golf.

“Just that, and putting into place some processes that have not been here for a while, they are the two main things for me at the moment.”

Clearly, it’s onward and upward for Flinders Golf Club and their new, personable GM.

About Inside Golf

Australia's Golf News Leader, Inside Golf gives you in-depth coverage of Australian golf news, golf events, golf travel and holiday destinations, Australian and international golf course reviews, the hottest new golf gear and tips and drills to improve your golf game. Written by award-winning journalists, Inside Golf also features interviews with Australia's top professional golfers, the game's rising stars, industry leaders and golf equipment manufacturers. You can even win great golf prizes and equipment. It’s all in Inside Golf. FREE at Australian golf courses, driving ranges and golf retailers across Australia.

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