Meet the Team – Tim Allen

Meet the Team – Tim Allen, Director of Golf

Pro Golf shop Cowdray Golf Academy

“Professionally, I am proud of how the golf club has grown and improved year on year. The golf club membership is at capacity and for the first time we have a waiting list. Many members have chosen to join us from other clubs and our main aim is to maintain people’s commitment to Cowdray and to ensure that the club provides everything they need.”

What first attracted you to work at Cowdray? And how would you describe your role?

I moved here as Head Professional eight years ago and became the Director of Golf five years ago. I was very much attracted by the Cowdray name and was excited about having the opportunity to work as part of a big, landed Estate.

In a nutshell, I have day to day responsibility for all aspects of the golf club. I make sure that the golf club fully complies with all the rules and regulations as well as oversee operations at the golf club including the course, membership, the clubhouse and the Pro Shop. No two days are the same.

How would you describe your career path prior to working at Cowdray?

My career has comprised of a mixture of high-end private members clubs and proprietary operations. I cannot quite believe that I have been in the industry for 25 years!

To start with, I worked in golf clubs in Hampshire and Zimbabwe, the country of my birth before starting my training with the PGA at Hartsbourne Country Club in north London. After two and a half years at Hartsbourne, I completed my training at Alresford Golf Club in Hampshire before moving to Iford Golf Centre in Bournemouth, an enormous pay and play operation with two golf courses and, at the time, the largest driving range in Europe. I was there for nearly nine years in various roles until I moved to Cowdray as Head Professional. Following the management restructure in 2016, I was promoted to Cowdray’s Director of Golf.

Coaching the game has also been a huge part of my career. I have been fortunate to coach every level of golfer including primary school children, beginners, frustrated club golfers and elite performers.

What is your vision for Cowdray Golf? And what are you most proud of in your five years working for Cowdray?

We are working towards very exciting development plans for the golf club. One of the visions for the golf club is to ensure that its reputation continues to grow both regionally and nationally. We also want to make sure that we continue to offer the best possible service and the optimum playing conditions to members and to ensure that once people join, they stay committed to us.

Professionally, I am proud of how the golf club has grown and improved year on year. The golf club membership is at capacity and for the first time we have a waiting list. Many members have chosen to join us from other clubs and our main aim is to maintain people’s commitment to Cowdray and to ensure that the club provides everything they need.

golf winter

What is your team like? And how many of them have a long-standing connection with Cowdray and the area around Midhurst?

I am supported by a fantastic team. Interestingly, unlike many other departments across Cowdray no-one from the team was born or brought up on the Estate.

However, everyone who works here has moved to the area and has made it their home. For example, Jonathan Smith, Course Manager, has worked at Cowdray for 21 years and Leigh Holloway, the Deputy Course Manager, for 20 years.

Do you have a favourite place on the Estate, and do you have a favourite tee on the Cowdray Golf Course?

Although the panoramic view of the South Downs from the 5th tee on the golf course is very hard to beat, we recently explored Ambersham Common properly for the first time and the lovely little stream that meanders through it.

It is also hard to beat walking on Lawns looking up at the 18th hole, and on the 18th hole looking down on Cowdray Ruins and Lawns. It is so picturesque.

Also, do you have a particularly memorable round of golf when everything went particularly well? And, when it all went wrong!

There are plenty of times when it all went wrong! However, over the years I have been able to play in some wonderful tournaments, although I have never really competed full time.

I am happy to say that I have made the winner’s speech on more than one occasion but my first win as a professional at the 2002 Hartley Wintney Golf Club Pro Am was hard to beat. I played well and it was a great feeling making the winner’s speech for the first time as a professional.

Aside from Cowdray, what is your favourite course?

I have been fortunate to play at the Old Course, St Andrews which is commonly known as ‘The Home of Golf’. It was magical standing on the first tee – the sheer sense of history and knowing how many of the great golfers had previously stood there had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck.

Is it hard managing the golf club in different seasons – from long dry spells in summer to heavy downpours of rain?

Yes, yes and yes! We are very lucky that we have a year-round golf course based on a sandy soil and recent improvements to the irrigation systems make water usage much more efficient.

However, the last four winters have been noticeably wetter so protecting the golf course has become more of a challenge than it used to be. We also have long dry, hot spells, and it is at times like this that ensuring the irrigation system works as efficiently as possible becomes invaluable.

Do you ever have to close the golf course? 

Very occasionally we do. During the winter, the weather – particularly the rain – can be very severe so if golfers play, they could damage the course. We usually take the decision to close very early in the morning. However, there is still the option to use the all-weather studio for coaching.

Are there more people interested in joining the golf course with more people working from home and perhaps revaluating work life/ balance? Are you keen on attracting women and a younger membership?

We are always keen to attract new members and Cowdray Golf is currently at capacity – and for the first time we have a waiting list. Every day we have enquiries from people wanting to join, which is a unique position to be in.

The junior section is growing at a good pace with at least 50 active juniors, and again a huge increase in young players, which we are thrilled about.

The Ladies section is also thriving. Hannah Ralph, who is a Teaching Professional at Cowdray, is also this year’s Lady Captain and she does a great job at promoting the club and encouraging female members to join.

In your view, why is golf the best sport?

 I love all sports, but why I particularly love golf is that it is mentally demanding at all levels. It’s sociable, you can really challenge yourself, its outside and the game also appeals to so many different types of people. You can also play with anyone and at any age – we have a member who is 93 years old and is still playing regularly.

Outside work, what means the most to you?

Definitely, my wife and children. I am so proud cheering them all on at various sports, such as running, football, gymnastics, netball, table tennis and golf!

As your wife Clare works at the Golf Club and your children are at school locally do you feel very much part of the local community? You are known by a huge number of people at the golf club.

We feel hugely part of the community and as a family feel a responsibility to be ambassadors for the golf club, and therefore for the wider Estate. We have made many great friends in the area and feel well-connected locally especially through our work at Cowdray Golf and the children’s schools. Our son is at Midhurst Rother College, and our daughter is at Easebourne Primary.

As Director of Golf, I also pride myself on knowing every member’s name; however, there has been a big influx in membership over lockdown and it is harder to remember people when you do interviews via Zoom. It’s great being able to see people in person again and seeing the golf course busy. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing!

How do you like to relax when not at work?

I manage and coach the Under 12s Fernhurst Football Team, which I love doing, even though it is time consuming. It’s a great team and a fun, supportive bunch of families from the local area. My son plays for the team.

I also enjoy walking – particularly if there is a nice pub and a pint at the end of it.

Where is your favourite place to go on holiday?

We love to go on holiday to Mortehoe, near Woolacombe in North Devon. The rugged coastline and fresh sea air is hard to beat.

Which three famous people would you invite round to dinner?

Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers of all time, who recovered from a near fatal car crash to win three out of the four majors in one year, 1953.

Billy McNeil. As a Celtic FC fan, he was the captain who lifted the European Cup in 1967 – the first team in Britain to win it.

And Hollywood Actress Jennifer Garner!

And finally, pub dinner or homecooking….

Pub dinner, apart from our family homecooked pizza nights.

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