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The Association of Golf Club Secretaries was formed in 1933. At that time, the majority of golf clubs were run by Hon Secretaries, often serving on an annual basis, being elected at the Clubs Annual General Meeting.
Hon Secretaries began meeting together locally exchanging views and holding informal meetings. Naturally this led to social golf. The Association recognised the value of these local gatherings, and in 1955 they approached several areas and suggested they set up affiliated Regions. Over time, Clubs began to recognise that with the ever increasing responsibilities being put upon their volunteers it was time for change. Many decided to employ a full time paid manager.
At the Association's AGM in 1973 at Kings Norton the rules were changed to allow lady secretaries to become members. This was of particular benefit to the Southern Region, because in 1981, Stoneham Golf Club appointed one of the first lady secretaries, Anthea Wilkinson. In 1981 the National Secretary, John Crowther, approached Anthea and asked her to form the Association of Golf Club Secretaries - Southern Region. The Region was to encompass Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Channel Islands, West and part of East Sussex. Anthea’s achievements were acknowledged by the Association when, having served on the National Committee, she became the Association’s first and only (to date) lady National captain in 1989. At the Association's AGM held at Formby in 2012 Anthea was bestowed with Honorary Life Membership. The Chef Executive, Keith Lloyd, told the meeting that Anthea had started her career as Secretary at St Ives Golf Club in Cambridge. Anthea was an accomplished golfer, and had been President of the Cambridge Ladies Golf Union. She was Secretary at Stoneham for 13 years. Today the Association has more than 300 lady members.
At the time no formal constitution or rules were put in place, and the Regional meetings and membership eligibility were as defined in the National Rules. It was not until 1995/96 that some general rules for the Southern Region were penned by Roy Goodliffe and approved at that year’s Autumn meeting.
In the early years, the Regional Secretary was also the National Executive Committee (NEC) Representative. In 2000 the rules allowed for a change to this and Pat Clash who was Secretary at Salisbury and West Wilts at that time, was elected by the Region to be our first NEC Representative.
To celebrate the Regions 25th Anniversary in 2006, a trip to Jersey was organised. Both of the GCMA Southern Region members from the island, Ian Prentice of La Moye and Darren Attwood of Royal Jersey, laid out the red carpet. All who were fortunate to attend this celebration will remember it for many a year. Also in 2006, a Celebration Dinner was held at Stoneham, the Club at which Anthea Wilkinson had been Secretary. Distinguished guests were invited, including Anthea and David Harrison MBE who is an Hon. Member at both Stoneham and Alresford.
In 2007 the Region’s name was changed to reflect the National Associations name change to Golf Club Manager’s Association – Southern Region (GCMA Southern Region). The name change reflected the evolving role of the Club Manager from the early days of an Honorary role to that of a professional manger with the diversity of skills that are required today.
Over the years, members of the Southern Region have served on National Committees to the benefit of Association members. In recent history Pat Clash (Salisbury and West Wilts) served on the Way Forward committee. Richard Penley-Martin (Stoneham) sits on the ETQ (Education, Training and Qualification) and is a regular contributor to the Association’s residential training course “Introduction to Golf Club Management”. The Southern Region is also proud to have Megan Bibby as one of their members. Megan won the prestigious National Golf Club Secretary of the Year competition in 2007 whilst Manager at West Hove Golf Club.