The Wisley chief executive and Stocksfield native on his golf, playing some of the world’s best courses, and his dream fourball partners
Having started his career in golf at Slaley Hall in 1998, John Glendinning has gone on to be part of hosting multiple European Tour events at Slaley and Close House, and shape the development of multi-million-pound golf resorts. Today he is chief executive of The Wisley in Surrey, which counts major champions and some of the game’s greatest players among its membership. A respected figure in golf club management in the UK and further afield, we caught up with John to learn more about the man who has risen from working part-time in a Northumberland clubhouse to running one the UK and Europe’s most exclusive golf clubs…
How much golf do you get to play?
I’m lucky to be able to play a couple of times per month, though it’s never as much as I’d like. I also get to join a couple of golf trips each year, which are always fantastic experiences. I love the outdoors and have a lot of outdoor hobbies, but golf is my go-to in the summer months.
How did you get into golf?
While I was in sixth form, my mum went to Stocksfield Golf Club for lessons and I tagged along. I had a lesson with Steve McKenna, he got me to join, and the rest is history. I went on to study geography and geology at St Andrews University and that cemented my love of golf.
Which is your favourite course in the North East?
My heart would take me straight back to the Hunting Course at Slaley Hall – I love the challenge it presents. The Colt Course at Close House is also very special to me as I was incredibly fortunate to be involved in the creation of it – those seven years were amazing.
And further afield?
In the UK, Hankley Common and Sunningdale are firm favourites and of course The Wisley, while Isle of Purbeck has the most stunning views.
What’s your best score?
Three under-par on the New Course at St Andrews – though I was five under-par through five.
Which is your favourite golfing memory?
Playing Cypress Point in California was an incredible experience. We had the course to ourselves and playing the final three holes is undoubtedly the best golfing experience of my life so far.
What about embarrassing moments on the course?
Not one of my own shots, thankfully, but I once saw a guy hit a tee shot through a clubhouse window at Stocksfield. Playing the shot after that was nerve-wracking.
Do you have any golfing superstitions?
No – I try to keep moving forward and not spend too long on the past, particularly on the golf course.
What are your strengths on the course?
I’ve got a good tempo, which helps keep the ball in play off the tee. It also tends to help with the putter – I hole my fair share when I’m on a roll.
And your weaknesses?
While I’m accurate, I’m not the longest off the tee, which can put pressure on the rest of my game on longer courses.
Which is your favourite club in the bag?
I’ve only owned three putters and my current one – a PING Vault – is definitely my favourite club in the bag.
Who is your best golfing friend?
It would have to be Tim Price, a former captain at Close House. We don’t see each other as much as we used to, but he always brings my best golf out of me.
If you hadn’t forged a career in golf, what would you have done?
If I hadn’t been able to build a career around my passion for golf, I would have loved a career in skiing or climbing – my other great passions.
Who is your favourite tour player?
I still follow and enjoy watching Lee Westwood having worked so closely with him at Close House. I also really enjoy watching Francesco Molinari – a member of The Wisley.
Which golf events do you enjoy most?
I attended The Masters in 2015 and have always loved seeing Augusta National on TV. I also enjoy attending the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth – it’s always great to see some of the best players in the world so close to home.
Who do you admire?
I’ve been lucky to work with some incredibly talented and inspiring people. Recently, I’ve worked with a number of armed forces personnel and members of the Battle Back programme, and I have a huge amount of admiration for anyone who has served in the armed forces. Their experiences are impossible to appreciate and their bravery is something we should all admire.
Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?
My friends Tim Price and Mike Chard, and Fred Sirieix – who could teach us about great wine as we all enjoy some.
If you could have one mulligan, when would you have used it?
If I could go back, I would have chosen to serve in the armed forces. It’s an important responsibility and teaches a great deal about life, teamwork and service. My 14-year-old daughter has chosen to join the cadets – I am very proud of her and wish I had done that at her age.