The Hon Secretary’s report for the annual meeting of the DMVGA
at Tiverton on Thursday, October 12th, 2017.
Gentlemen – I recently received an email from Bob Keating sending his best wishes to you all and to us as the Association. For those amongst us who do not know Bob Keating, and many of you will, he was my immediate predecessor as Hon. Secretary. Bob took over the post as Hon Secretary in 2009 when, in troubled times for the Association, he was also Captain for that year – only the third time I think that one person has filled both posts.
I was recently talking with our Captain Chris Henderson about differing styles of management. Bob was somewhat autocratic – what he said went, and that was that. What many people didn’t know about Bob was that he was his wife’s full time carer. In that situation he had a lot of time at home and spent a good deal of time, if not all his ‘down time’, concentrating on DMVGA matters. Bob cared deeply for the Association and, indeed, he still does, keeping up to date via the website and also through our email conversations. Bob was the DMVGA.
Taking over from Bob was something of a challenge. Everything was in apple pie order with a place for everything and everything in its place – actually how I like things. But I just followed along in his footsteps and found it was not that challenging – the administration and organisation being relatively simple but the need for attention to detail was, and remains, paramount. This all takes time – lots of it. My own style of management is not autocratic – far from it; I have tried to be ‘inclusive’ and ‘enabling’; I’ve encouraged others to take on tasks where my own skills are lacking – IT being one and here I must pay tribute to Adrian Granville-Smith who has been a tower of strength to the Association in IT related matters. The sub-committee has been a great solace to me as one is able to talk with like-minded people who all have one aim in mind – the betterment of the Association and its service to its members. I certainly prefer to go forward in strength and in the knowledge that I have the backing of knowledgeable, sensible, golfing chaps. I should tell you that I don’t always agree with the decisions that are made at the sub-committee and Executive Committee and here I come onto an important point. Despite my occasional disagreement with decisions the primary role of the Hon. Secretary is, as the title suggests, to implement the decisions of the committee and to ensure that implementation and action are carried out to the satisfaction of the Committee. The secondary role of the Hon Secretary being as close, if not closer than any other single person, to the coal-face, is to advise, suggest and, at times, act as a leader. Yes, it can be a tricky job trying to balance the two roles and I’m aware that we don’t always deliver to the members that which you might think we could or should and I know we have our critics but we do try our very best – using the Rules of the Association and the DMVGA Emerton-Court rules as our template.
It is abundantly clear that the role of the Hon Secretary is not to go off on wild goose chases without reference to or agreement from one or other of the Committees. This is exactly what happened in 2008 when Bob Keating and the then President, Mike Friend from Saunton, had to remonstrate with and ultimately remove from post the then Hon Secretary.
You will note from the revised agenda that we are not now able to be proposing a new Hon. Secretary as was our wish and our aim. This is a great sadness to us and to me especially; this will be discussed more fully later in the meeting but it does mean that the slack is going to have to be taken up by willing hands.
This past year has seen the continuing development of the Association. As already mentioned IT has taken up a good deal of our time to ensure the smooth running of the Qualifiers which both the EGU and Devon Golf Ltd monitor closely. In passing we must thank Devon Golf Ltd for their involvement and support – John Hirst in particular has been very helpful and we’re most grateful. The coming Winter Series is, of course, a new development and with a full field assured for each of the 4 events we’re looking forward very much to seeing how it all pans out – thank you to the 28 clubs who are supporting this – 2 of the clubs putting 2 teams in.
As ever, and as demonstrated by the agenda, the DMVGA Emerton-Court competition continues to be a great success but also the most contentious of our competitions. This shows that, despite our increasing years, the competitive urge within us is still as strong as ever and that’s excellent of course; but, there are times when issues are raised that really should not be raised. The rules of the competition are laid down and clubs should enter the competition understanding the rules and abiding by them – and here I’m not talking about the Rules of Golf but the rules of the competition as laid down by the Executive Committee. Please consider this carefully when entering next year’s competition.
This year our membership has flourished again with just under 1,600 members. It really does prove the interest in and strength of the Association. Of course, those members all need help and guidance and this is provided in spades by the club Reps to whom I offer my thanks and congratulations on the job they do; without the Reps there would hardly be an Association! That said, there are areas where we have to improve and you’ll see that we intend to hold a couple of meetings for Reps in the close season to talk about all the areas of your involvement. This matter is to be covered later on but I would urge all Reps to attend or to send someone to carry the message back home.
One of the greatest pleasures I derive from this job is seeing people enjoying themselves – good round or bad. We should never forget that we are just old folk enjoying their golf!
I close my report, which I had hoped would be my last as Hon Secretary, offering my thanks to the members of the Executive Committee, members of the Sub Committee, the Captains and Presidents it has been my honour to serve. You have all been so supportive and understanding when we’ve been ‘up against it’; we always sort out our issues – normally with common-sense and humour – and we will continue to do so going into the future. And, in so doing, it’s good to realise that you are all part of, perhaps, the most forward thinking and most active Veterans Golf Association in the country. This is no mean feat and you should all take pride in that honour.
Gentlemen – thank you.
Bob Small – Hon. Secretary