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Winds of change


Players from Derby County’s golden age will be among those teeing off to help Tim Coxon celebrate his 25th anniversary as head PGA Professional at Mickleover Golf Club, writes Adrian Milledge.

Roy McFarland, Henry Newton and Archie Gemmell, who were all members of the side that won the Football League Championship in 1975, will play in the event which has been sanctioned by the club in recognition of Coxon’s contribution to its success.

“It’s on July 5th,” says Coxon. “There will be 30 teams of four, including some local celebrities, PGA pros I’ve known a long time, a couple of Derbyshire cricketers and some former Derby County footballers.”

Just as professional football has changed since McFarland led County to its second Football League Championship triumph in four seasons, so has Coxon’s role at Mickleover following his arrival there in 1994 at the age of 26.

“The job has changed tremendously,” recalls Coxon, who has been supported by Lee Mason, a fellow PGA pro for the last dozen years. “This is a typical private members’ club on the fringe of Derby.

“There was a waiting list and joining fee when I got here and it was run by guys in blazers. They kept me at the bottom of the car park and I just did my job. That was primarily running the shop, mending clubs and giving lessons.

“Since then it’s gone right round and the people looking after the club now are more proactive. They’re still volunteers but a lot more professional and my responsibilities have increased almost to director of golf level.

“I’m responsible for golf days, membership, membership initiatives, marketing, and the golf course.

“That involves looking after the green staff and I became the first course chairman who wasn’t a member.

“It’s changed massively and none of this would have happened 25 years ago – not a chance.”

Coxon has also been taking members on golfing trips abroad, including to the Masters, for the past five years, and is responsible for a flexible membership scheme designed to attract younger golfers and secure the club’s future.

“We began it five years or so ago when there was a perceived decline in golf and courses were shutting,” he explains. “We weren’t in any trouble but wanted to guard against any eventualities and make sure we wouldn’t be one of them.

“We were after a younger demographic of member for this flexible scheme – 40 somethings. So we got into partnership with the football club where there are 25,000 people on a Saturday afternoon and raised our profile with them. As a result we increased our membership by 100 in a year.”

Those new members arrived at a club which, thanks to Coxon, had abandoned its rigid dress code five years earlier.

“I convinced the committee at the time to drop the dress code and it’s worked really well. People come here for social reasons now – members bring their friends and families and the clubhouse is often rammed.

“The bar used to be a service and probably lost money. It’s now a profit centre and more money is available for the golf course.”

Looking ahead, Coxon sees himself as taking on even more administrative duties at the expense of his more traditional ones. To that end he is considering taking The PGA’s director of golf course.

“It would help me a lot,” he says. “I can see the benefit – you’d learn a lot with things like employment law with health and safety, licensing as well as the golf stuff which we generally know.

“Above all, I’m only the fourth pro the club has had and I want to make sure it reaches its centenary in four years time.

*There were a couple of vacancies for teams to take part in Tim Coxon’s golf day at the time of going to press. Please call 01332 518662 for further details.