NEW Royal Lytham and St Annes secretary Charles Grimley is used to organising air shows – but he admits it’s hard to keep his feet on the ground when it comes to contemplating all the challenges and tradition that his new job presents.
He is Graham Cochrane’s long-term replacement at the club, taking over on his own account in July – and his appointment could hardly come at a busier time.
Not only does the Open Championship take place at Royal Lytham next summer, but the cream of the world’s amateurs will be in action there in the Walker Cup in 2015.
Grimley, 35, formerly worked for the EnglandsGolfCoast.com organisation, and though he has only been shadowing Cochrane for the past three months, he already feels the hand of history on his shoulder.
He readily admits: “Walking through the door in the morning and putting my foot on the doorstep, it sends a shiver up your spine.
“It makes you realise not only are you following the footsteps of famous professional golfers, but also the people who have set up the club and managed it to this day.
“It makes you feel honoured to work here.”
Grimley’s proper current title is secretary-designate, working alongside Cochrane, who will stand down in the summer on the Sunday night of the Open Championship after more than a decade in the role.
Grimley said: “The experience and knowledge Graham has is incredible – I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to learn from him and very excited, going forward.
“My previous job was managing EnglandsGolfCoast.com, a tourism promotion trying to bring more golfers into the North West, dealing with journalists, tour operators and trying to attract foreign visitors.
“That’s how I built up a relationship with all clubs in the area.”
Royal Lytham learned of his work with EnglandsGolfCoast.com, and sounded out Grimley about taking over as secretary at the world famous Links Gate venue.
He said: “I made no secret of the fact that I always wanted to move into golf club management – I had been speaking with Graham for a while, and it was always a natural career progression.
“The club approached me about the role, and although it was a lot sooner than I thought and a lot higher up the ladder, it’s a privilege to get the chance to come and work here.”
Grimley was born in Southport, where he still leaves – he is a member at Southport and Ainsdale, where he plays off a handicap of 10.
He had a deep affection for the Royal Lytham course, even before his arrival, and his only regret is that he doesn’t get more opportunities.
“It’s a bit like Chinese torture looking out of the window at the course and not being able to play.
“I have played here many times, and it has always been one of my favourites, although I have to say it’s beaten me on more occasions than I have had success round it.
“The course is very tough – the Lytham Trophy scores from last May are testimony to that.
“When the wind blows, it is a fantastic test of golf and such a privilege to be here – it’s not just the course, but the Lytham experience.”
It is perhaps surprising to learn that Grimley is not the youngest person to occupy the secretary’s office at Royal Lytham.
Thomas Pym was 33 when he was appointed in 1903 and finally left in 1941 – The Pym is to this day a trophy awarded to the winner of Royal Lytham’s longest-established matchplay competition.
Grimley said: “If I can get anywhere near how successful he was, then I will be very happy.
“It’s quite good I get the time to learn the role with Graham, and to find out more about the club and to have two people at such a busy time.
“But we are well versed in hosting events here.”
Grimley’s CV ticks plenty of boxes in terms of running events.
Prior to working with EnglandsGolfCoast,com, he managed golf competitions like the Scottish Seniors Open, as well as Southport and Kent air-shows.
He had a dummy run of what to expect so far as the Walker Cup was concerned when travelling to Royal Aberdeen this summer as Great Britain and Ireland beat the United States at the Scottish venue.