A highly unofficial ranking of who has the most pull at your golf club.

Who’s really the most influential person at your golf club?

Is it the teaching pro, who continues to dangle the carrot of hope in front of you that, someday, you’ll be able to strike it just like them? 

Perhaps it’s your resident celebrity, who seems to spend more time working on their Instagram than their iron game? 

Could it be someone on the committee, or even your club champion that has an uncanny knack for persuading others?

For many, the buck always stops in the club’s front office yet how one arrives in a position of power at a club often revolves around what they don’t have, as opposed to what they do have. A vocal minority can quickly arrive in a position of influence over a silent majority. As Golf Digest’s Joel Beall once wrote: “Slighted. It’s a sentiment all golfers feel, especially at a club. Be it a single who’s frustrated that the foursome ahead won’t wave them through, or the 65-and-over chicken run that asserts their tee-times are second-rate, to the club president upon finding a car in their reserved spot, disrespect runs rampant. This stems from the belief that a lack of homage or reverence is being paid, yet that esteem banks on a bold assumption: that one is due respect. Which can be a tough pill to swallow. If you’re dropping the type of coin most prestigious capital-city clubs require, you expect certain amenities in return. And for many, that includes deference. But the reality is, some golf figures carry more power than the rest.”

Indeed, they do, which is why we surveyed a bunch of Australian golf club employees under the guise of anonymity about who really wields the power in club land. Together with their insights – and our editors’ own observations as active members – we’ve compiled a ranking that more than likely represents your club to a tee. But on the odd chance it doesn’t, we’d love to get your power rankings of a club’s internal hierarchy.

Be sure to e-mail your assessment to [email protected]. In the meantime, do any of these sound familiar?

The Sloth 


The one person no one wants to play with. Of course, they’re always the first member to put their name down for the monthly medal off the tips, and the last to have the remaining spots around them filled. “They’ll turn up off their 39-handicap, shoot 154 and take as long as humanly possible to do it,” says one club pro from Melbourne. The Sloth, sadly, is influential for all the wrong reasons.



Indentured servants of golf. Found exclusively on practice greens and fairways. They technically have rights, but no one knows for sure what they are or acknowledge they exist. What we do know is clubs are delighted when their pennant teams win again thanks to these underage plus-markers.

Assistant Pro


You have to feel for the poor bastards. This position handles the grunt work. They are one of the first to arrive and last to leave, and they have to suck up to everyone at the club while getting their kicks selling cans of Coke in the pro shop. Despite these efforts, assistants are treated as plebes. “True, but they have the quickest handball in the game,” laughs one club pro from an AFL heartland. “They might be given some mundane tasks but they always have the luxury of passing on the harder stuff to the head pro because, well, that’s why we’re supposedly on the big bucks, right?” 

Bar manager


It’s amazing the things people disclose after a schooner or two of lager. “Your barman is the gatekeeper to the club’s most salacious tidbits,” writes Beall. “He might pour you a drink with a smile on his face but know that he can drop the hammer down on anyone at any time.” That, my friends, is power.

Course Marshal


Have you ever come across a popular parking inspector? This position is set up for failure too, but not before a little bit of power gets to be asserted. “Nobody likes the course marshal because their sole purpose is to confront members for slow play,” says a general manager of 25 years.

Adds a director of golf from Victoria: “There’s always good ones and bad ones. We’ve had our fair share of both. You can get ‘Mr Cruisy’, all nice and polite who doesn’t let the authority get to his head, while others think they’re wearing a sergeant’s badge and have a gun and holster. When you give them a job to manage an entire field, things can get a little interesting.”



As a society, we often underestimate our elders, and this tends to be the case in golf clubs as well, where the average age of the Australian club member is 58. However, it’s this crowd’s scrutiny, inquisitiveness and care that serves as the engine for many clubs. Naturally, this group also records the most rounds at the course. “Some old-timers definitely emit an overbearing vibe because of the aforementioned characteristics, but give them the respect they deserve,” says a membership officer from Queensland. “They have plenty of wisdom to share if you are prepared to ask.”



The club’s bean counters always have more power than they let on. These are the folks that get things done behind the scenes, and they do it without making a fuss. Be nice to this sect; there’s a good chance they’ll one day have higher rank.

Club Champion 


A club president can buy respect. The club champion has to earn it. This person can be a jerk, narcissist, loner… it doesn’t matter. The game does all the talking needed. Being your club’s best golfer comes with its fair share of perks and one heck of a power trip.

Celebrity Member 


They could afford to pay all our fees if they had to but, in many cases, never owe their club a cent. Celebrities – ‘ambassadors’ on some books – love golf because it provides them with the ultimate safe haven away from the media spotlight and a cheap pursuit that highlights one very real fact: they’re no different to us. But their profile, naturally, gives them serious pull. What they want they generally get because the risk of losing them – and their Instagram followers – is too great.  



Very switched-on characters but who generally hate golfers.

“More of them should take on manager roles but they hate people. It’s why they like doing their thing outdoors,” says one club captain from Canberra.

If the super doesn’t do their job, you can’t enjoy golf. Conversely, the superintendent seemingly operates on a never-ending hot seat. In many ways, they’re like a big-money signing in football: if things are going well, you don’t hear a peep about them. But when things go wrong (“Who killed our greens?”), you definitely know their name. Their work is a never-ending art exhibition, always on full display for the entire membership to critique.

“They get more advice from the layman (via greens committees) than anyone else,” adds a former general manager from Sydney. “As my past super used to say: ‘Just because you brush your teeth, doesn’t mean that you are a dentist!’”

General Manager/CEO 


The boss… or as one general manager put it, the “glue” that keeps the club intact. They can know the most personal details about 1,000-plus members, nine directors and 50-odd staff. “We listen, take in all of the advice put to us and ultimately do what’s best for the club,” says a recently retired general manager. Yet not all agree with that sentiment.

“In my view, most of them are failed accountants that puff their chest out without really knowing what’s going on,” adds a current director of golf in Victoria. “Don’t get me wrong, there are some good ones, but I’ve found where most clubs tend to come unstuck is the mismanagement of funds, and this is (the GM’s) domain. The will blame the board, but golf club committees are never held accountable because it just doesn’t work like that in Australia, unfortunately.” 

Our all-time favourite quote from a GM, and perhaps a reflection of their true standing in traditional club structures: “Name another profession where I, as the highest paid person in the company and employed specifically to make hard decisions on golf operations, can come in to work and be sacked by a group of plumbers, electricians and retirees?”

Head Professional


This position is a point of pride for any club. The head pro has a reputation to uphold and a hand in nearly every club-related affair, intended or not. “We’re half golf pro, half priest,” jokes one jack-of-all-trades pro from Victoria. “We’re always there for the members. We’re always listening and providing advice when it’s needed, not just on golf but often on life.” Adds a recently retired general manager from Sydney: “The head pro may not get all the confidential information, but every member loves them because they sell them ‘hope’ – hope to one day be a good golfer – and this never stops.” Make no mistake about it, no golf club employee overdelivers on their job description more than the head pro.

Club Captain/President


It’s the ultimate popularity contest, according to one director of golf. “Jack’s a good bloke, he gets my vote as captain because he’s going to keep the beer prices down.” The truth is, being club captain comes with its challenges, according to one chief executive: “They see the raw emotion of members under disciplinary consideration and are too often bombarded with selfish requests.” Indeed, getting your own parking space, table and your name on an honour board can come at a cost, but there can be no greater influential figure than one who is elected by their peers to fight their battles. “I’ll actually take this one step further,” adds a cheeky club pro from regional Victoria. “I firmly believe the most influential person in a golf club is not the captain – it’s the captain’s partner. They tend to strut around the place and get more out of the privileges that come with the role than the actual elected captain.”