Willie Moore – a local ambassador

Willie Moore NZGM
Willie Moore © NZGM/Elizabeth Witton 2019

Willie Moore has gone from being a local junior player, to running his hometown golf course.  Not only does he love the golf course but he also really loves the community and what it has to offer.

Moore would probably be one of the biggest ambassadors for life in Cromwell and he is quick to tell anyone looking to play golf in Queenstown or Central Otago that they should come and play one of the country’s best golf courses and try the amazing local Pinot Noir. Oh, yeah, and if you are into cars, then you should also go for a spin at the best car racing track in the country!

Moore started playing golf when he was eleven years old at the nearby 9-hole Tarras Golf Club, the town which is known as the home to the world’s best merino sheep.  He attended Cromwell College where he made a name for himself playing in the Otago age group teams.  He was fortunate to be at the college at the same time when local golf legend, Colin Cowie, who established the golf academy at the school, was there to coach him with strong fundamentals.  He also met his future wife Gwyfla, while still at school, so it was natural they would end up raising a family in their favourite community. 

From Cromwell, Moore moved to Christchurch and to the more competitive Canterbury golf scene.  He enjoyed playing Woodward Cup pennant matches and more national events and testing himself against some of the best players in the country.  But in 2008, he wanted to take his game to the next level, so he went to the best golf city in the world – Melbourne.  Joining the Southern Golf Club on “the sandbelt” and playing in the Senior Pennant competition, gave Moore the opportunity to play and compete on some of the best golf courses in the world; this is where he started working in golf at the local driving range. 

Trying to find the balance in playing tournament golf and juggling work proved to be a challenge.  After discussions with friends, family and contacts in the golf industry, he decided to go down the pathway of becoming a trainee golf professional.  Spring Valley Golf Club was looking to take on a trainee so he applied and managed to get the job.  Starting on the Australian PGA traineeship programme he continued playing competitions where he was in the top ten percent.  The passion was still to play golf with the back-up plan of working in the golf industry.

For Moore, Spring Valley was an ideal place to do his apprenticeship.  “The club was very active with over 1,000+ members.  The Pro-Shop was, not surprisingly, very busy, and I quickly learnt the importance of customer service which has been a strong part of my golf career ever since.” 

“Spring Valley had a great driving range and practice area that was the home to the Victoria Institute of Sport Golf Programme, run by the highly regarded teaching professional, Marty Joyce.  In the second year of my traineeship, I started to develop my teaching style under the eye of Joyce.  I still get a thrill in seeing golfers improve during a lesson; it really gives me great satisfaction”. 

Working with Joyce helped Moore develop his game and upon finishing his traineeship, he started to play more competitive golf in Pro-Ams and tour events across Australia. 

One of the advantages of being part of the Melbourne golf scene was Moore’s involvement with the 2011 Presidents Cup and 2013 World Cup, both of which were played at Royal Melbourne.  “It was a great event to be involved with in the Australian PGA Interactive area, where we gave free mini-lessons to those that came out to the event.  Watching the world’s best players up close was awesome and the atmosphere was amazing”.  Unfortunately for Moore he won’t get to attend the Presidents Cup in December, on the golf course he rates as the best he has ever played!   “Royal Melbourne is such a great test of golf and even with all the local knowledge that some of the International players have, I still believe that the American team will be too strong”. 

After Moore completed his traineeship, he continued working at Spring Valley, coaching and working in the Pro-Shop while playing the Victorian Pro-Am circuit and some inter-state events.  His wife was pregnant with their first child and they thought it was great timing to head home to Otago, where they wanted their children to grow up.  At the same time, he was offered the role of Golf Operations Manager at Spring Valley.  “Weighing up the two options, it was a very tough decision, but we turned down the job and we moved home to Cromwell in 2014”.

Upon moving home, Moore was soon working at The Hills as the Head Teaching Professional.  “It was awesome to be working at such a great facility.  The members and the team there were wonderful and everyday was interesting but I wanted the challenge of working in golf operations and starting my own business”.  In 2015, the role at Cromwell Golf Club was advertised and he was appointed as Director of Golf. 

For Moore, moving back to Cromwell with a population of around 5000, compared to Melbourne with about 4 million people, he focused on the principle that no matter where you are running your business you have to align it to suit the local market.  “Cromwell Golf Club has just over 500 members and we attract a lot of visiting players with it being a popular holiday destination, so every year the golf club is becoming busier. It is great when someone who hasn’t played the course in a few years, comes in raving about the course and recognising the improvements that have been made.  It is such a fun course to play, with some wonderful views”. 

Moore sees the golf shop and his role as the Director of Golf, as providing a seamless service for the members and visitors that come through the shop.  “It is about providing a level of service so everyone enjoys their golf experience at Cromwell; but we are also the one stop for the member or visitor.  Being at the coalface and part of the golf management team, we are able to introduce strategies that can grow the club’s business.  We now have different membership options and greenfee strategies that have seen an increase in play and revenue.  I believe the education level of the golf professionals graduating from their traineeships really set them up to be an integral part in leading the golf club.  The golf shop really is the centre hub of most clubs and having golf professionals who spend 40 or more hours at the club involved in the management, leads to more dynamic golfing environments”. 

“My own business (Moore Golf) encompasses coaching, club-fitting, a retail golf shop, driving range, golf carts, hire clubs and trundlers. We have also just opened another business offering similar products and services based at the Pro-Shop at Timaru Golf Club”.

Moore is quick to acknowledge that a career in the golf industry is very much about “You only get out what you put in!   So whether you are a Tour Pro, or a Club Pro don’t take short-cuts. You need to put in the hard work to achieve your goals. Even if you don’t see immediate results, keep chipping away and believe that good thing will happen”.

Moore and his wife Gwylfa, now have three girls aged 5, 3 and 1, so that really curtails him from playing competitive golf.  However, he really enjoys getting out and playing socially.  “Living in Cromwell is great for us and our family as I live close to home and it is such an easy life style.  We love the climate, the outdoor environment and the community. It is such a great place to be in the golf business.  Oh yeah, and the local wine is world class as well!”

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