Gordon Simpson is excited to have taken up his new post as secretary of Gullane, believing he has built up the ideal skill set to oversee “huge plans” for the East Lothian club, writes Martin Dempster.
Simpson’s journey since starting out as a PGA assistant to the current PGA in Scotland captain, Frank Coutts, at Deeside has taken him to Newmachar, Hilton Park, Chigwell and, most recently, Ladybank.
He’s worked as both director of golf and general manager in his spells at all those clubs and is aiming to put his experience to good use at Gullane.
“I am obviously responsible for all facets of what is a tremendous business that continues to grow,” he said of a venue that hosted the Scottish Open in 2015 and 2018.
“Not only are we thriving as a club, but we have huge plans over the next five years which are all very exciting to not only develop the facilities on and off the course but to continue to build the brand to become one of the world’s best golf destinations.
“Although only into my second week, it has become clear that the club is already one of the country’s top facilities, but the fact the members are embracing the changes to build for the future it is extremely encouraging.
“I feel that this role is the culmination of all of my roles over the 30 years in the industry and I am looking to not only work on the project but to enjoy the role in a more long-term basis to allow me to enjoy being involved in the development and then enjoy the facilities once they are complete.”
Simpson spent seven years working under Coutts, during which time he completed his PGA exams. He left to go to Newmachar as head professional when Peter Smith was director of golf and worked for him for three years before being given the opportunity to take over as director of golf.
“It was during my spell as director of golf that I made the decision to move my career into full-time club management and left Newmachar after nearly 11 years in total to become GM at Hilton Park in Glasgow,” he added.
“Hilton Park was my first full time managerial post and was a great grounding for me as there was plenty of modernisation required and it allowed me to showcase my entrepreneur side as well as allow me to develop my skill set.
“After seven years, I was given the opportunity to move to Chigwell Golf Club in Essex. Chigwell is a very private golf club who wanted to embark on a three-year clubhouse development plan, so I was charged with changing the club rules, membership offering, staff structure and then finally project managing the £1 million clubhouse refurbishment plan.
“This was the most exciting part of my career as not only was I the GM running club daily but was integral to the development phase.”
After that project was completed, Simpson and his wife wanted back to Scotland and that opportunity arose at Landbank as general manager.
“That was perfect for me at the time,” he said. “It was a traditional club that had fallen behind the times and wanted to a commercially-minded GM to change the culture of the club.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Ladybank, but the opportunity to take over at Gullane was just too good to refuse.”