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Club manager’s cherry on the top

RANDPARK – Francois Swart has what he needs to take Randpark Golf Club to the next level.

Golf, food, hotel management – Francois Swart has done it all, and now the general manager of Randpark Golf Club has another accolade to add to his growing collection.

Swart recently became the 13th person in the country to earn a Certified Club Manager qualification through the Club Managers Association of America, which is based at Georgia State University and provides some of the highest qualifications a club manager can attain.

To earn this, Swart had to complete five Institute of Business Management courses over five years, held by visiting American lecturers at Fancourt Golf Estate in the Western Cape; have a certain amount of credits from previous qualifications; have a certain amount of work experience; and achieve at least 70 per cent in a seven-hour exam constituting 400 multiple-choice questions.

“The qualification has helped me gain the experience I need to take the club to the next level,” he said.

“Golf is a business and, in South Africa, we need a paradigm shift in the way we run golf.” He explained that golf has become a luxury sport in the country, and clubs need to investigate ways of attracting younger, more diverse members and offer more than just golf.

With a passion for food and hotel management, Swart first studied at City & Guilds, then received his certificate in professional cookery at the International Hotel School. Over the next few years, he earned three diplomas – one in financial management, one in business management and one in hotel management.

He initially worked as a chef before being made the banqueting manager at Gateway Theatre of Shopping, in KwaZulu-Natal. A passion for golf then led him to open the food and beverage department at St Francis Links, a golf estate in St Francis Bay.

He was then the general manager of Dawsons Game and Trout Lodge in Badplaas before he opened a hotel in Mozambique called the Bay of Shells.

But Swart wanted to make his mark in the golfing world.

After three years of working as head of the food and beverage department at Randpark Golf Club, Swart was made the acting general manager, after the CEO Doug Bain, passed away. A year later, in 2015, Swart was made general manager on a permanent basis.

“Cooking is relaxing, golf is social and managing is a passion of mine,” he said, adding that his dream is to see the club become synonymous with quality and enjoyment for everyone.

Details: Randpark Golf Club 011 215 8600.

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