This year, Sean Gunn has temporarily left his operations job at Castle Stuart Golf Links to take up an internship at the renowned Emirates Golf Club in Dubai as part of his career development.
In the first of a series of blogs on his new role, he describes swapping the Moray Firth for the Middle East desert.
I’M WARMING TO MY NEW ROLE IN THE DUBAI DESERT
This year has been an amazing, varied and highly rewarding time in my career. I started 2017 working at the renowned Bandon Dunes resort in Oregon, where I completed a four-month internship, before returning to Castle Stuart for what was our busiest ever season.
During the year, I decided I wanted to continue to build my knowledge of the golf industry and work within another really busy operation. Chris Haspell, the former course manager at Castle Stuart who helped me set up my internship at Bandon Dunes, asked me if I would consider doing another internship and, if so, the places I would most like to go.
After doing a lot of thinking and also some research into different courses, areas and countries, I settled on Dubai as my primary location. Chris was able to put me in contact with Emirates Golf Club, where I was lucky enough to find an internship in golf operations. I applied and had an initial conversation with the golf services manager Rhys James and assistant manager Cian Hurley. It was also very fortunate that the club manager, Barney Coleman, was visiting Castle Stuart for a conference. This gave me the opportunity to sit down with him and have a formal interview, which resulted in being offered the internship.
One of the reasons I was so attracted to Emirates was the fact it is a members’ golf course. I have already worked in a pay-and-play setting with no members at Castle Stuart and also a resort setting at Bandon Dunes. So, being a member of a club back home, I really wanted to work in this kind of environment to try to compare it to my previous experiences, and to learn new skills that I can take home with me.
Another attraction was the location, Dubai. It is one of the busiest cities in the world, so I knew it would be a busy place with both members and visitors. That, alongside the Dubai Ladies Classic, which was held in early December, and also the men’s Dubai Desert Classic. Having been lucky enough to be involved with a Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, I really wanted to work at another high-profile event, seeing how they are organised and run.
But, as a members’ golf club, I will also be dealing a lot with day-to-day members, which is something I’ve not had much experience of during my career. It’s clear to see what a busy operation it is, and I’m really excited to see what the next five months hold for me here.
There is a lot of construction going on as Dubai is preparing for the World Expo 2020. It is an unbelievable city, that I cannot wait to explore further.
As for my duties, they will include tournament preparation which includes working alongside all relevant departments to ensure that members, corporate affiliates and visitors’ demands are met; post tournament tasks, such as scoring and producing draft press releases for Emirates and helping with other social media duties. I’ll also be showing potential members around the courses, the clubhouse and its three restaurants, spa, gym, academy, range and practice facilities.
In addition, I’ll be working alongside our reservation team in helping check in guests and members for rounds of golf and ensuring all their needs are met prior, during and post round, as well as assisting our outside operation colleagues with organising bags depending in which course they are playing and taking my share of night duties. As time goes on, I’m sure I will pick up extra responsibilities along the way.
It’s been a busy and interesting start, and I can’t wait to see what else lies in store.