Russell Gardner, the golf manager at Oake Manor and a Fellow of the PGA, will be a notable absentee when the West players assemble for the Total Triumph Classic opening order of merit event of the season next week, writes Peter Godsiff.
He has retired this year after joining brothers Roger and Michael King to run the golf operation as they built the club 26 years ago. Earlier he was a PGA staff instructor in business management for 15 years.
He is succeeded by James Smallacombe, who also joined from the start and later became his business partner. Lewis Hanney, whose career started at Oake 15 years ago, is his new partner.
Hanney moved to South Herefordshire before switching to The Carrick on Loch Lomond. He was back in Somerset within five years as teaching professional.
Together they are running the entire golf operation at a complex also renowned for its cuisine and cabaret. They are assisted by Tim Burdon who joined the Somerset club near Taunton as teaching professional from East Dorset (now The Dorset Golf and Country Club).
The professional staff is completed by Matthew Turner who was a successful playing member now in his first year of training after bursting through as a player last year.
Joe Jewell, 19 from Royal North Devon Golf Club, has recently joined as a trainee.
Oake Manor is an undoubted success story. Smallacombe said: “It has a great set-up, good practice facility ad has gone from strength to strength.
“We have many societies, 100 visiting groups each year while the Total Triumph and our annual pro-am which attracts more than 40 teams, the highlights.”
“Golf may have hit the buffers but we are bucking the system.”