Incoming Queenstown Golf Club’s general manager’s served a good apprenticeship for the job – literally and figuratively.
Matthew Judd, who takes over mid-month from John Stephens, has been at the club’s famed Kelvin Heights course since 2010, initially as a trainee professional.
He’s been head pro since 2013, when Jamie McIsaac, whom he learned under, became head pro at the club’s former Frankton course when the council took it over.
In recent years Judd has also been the club’s assistant manager.
He’s learnt a lot from Stephens – who’s off to run a local visitor accommodation property, Manata Lodge, which he and his wife Nicola have bought – and particularly how to look after staff.
“He’s really good with people – that’s one of his strongest points.”
Judd, who turns 35 this month, had an earlier five-year career as an industrial and commercial property valuer in Auckland.
But he’d sit in his office and dream about getting involved in golf – he was already playing four times a week.
In 2009 he quit his job and went travelling, recalling applying to the Pro-fessional Golfers Association of New Zealand to do an apprenticeship while sitting in a hostel in Ireland.
He was offered jobs at four courses, including Queenstown, which made the choice easy.
Judd is looking forward to continuing to make improvements to the Kelvin Heights course and facilities, “as and when we can afford to”.
“We’re very lucky in that the visitors provide us with an income that means we can continually improve the place.”
Asked what grips him about golf, he says it’s the never-ending quest for perfection.
“You’re always trying to better yourself, and that’s what kind of gets people hooked on golf.
“And it got me hooked as well.”