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Tuesday 29th March 2011
Craibstone Golf Centre’s new owner, Charles Marshall, has named the man he has given the task of putting the club and its facilities back on their feet - Turriff-born Billy Sim.
For Sim it will be a homecoming after more than 20 years working in top golf posts in Portugal and Spain.
Billy said: "I am really excited about coming back to the North-east after so many years abroad. I had other offers but I have to say that Mr Marshall and his team are so full of enthusiasm for the future of Craibstone, it was an easy post to accept although I expect it to be a lot of hard work."
"I have been lucky over the years, working mainly with former Ryder Cup player and now top course designer Dave Thomas and his son Paul, on several of their overseas design projects such as San Roque and Hacienda del Alamo in Spain.
"During that time I have met, played golf and become friendly with a lot of celebrities from Sean Connery to Bruce Forsyth, Kenny Dalglish, Bob Torrance, Dean Robertson, Gordon Strachan, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Paul Lawrie and latterly former Dons footballers Joe Harper, John Hewitt, Willie Garner and Drew Jarvie.
"All that experience I will take to the Craibstone post and help create what Mr Marshall is looking for from me in my golf as Golf Operations Manager."
A low-handicap golfer and brought up in Macduff, Sim served his time as a greenkeeper at Duff House Royal and later worked at Royal Tarlair.
When Dave Thomas designed the Newmachar Hawkshill course, Billy Sim was on his construction team and Thomas was so impressed with Sim’s work ethic that he took Billy with him on subsequent new golf course projects overseas.
Sim later branched out on his own with posts as course manager or director of golf on the Algarve at Salgados, Carvoeira, Penina and Parque da Floresta. He established a reputation as a "Red Adair" of golf clubs on the Iberian Peninsula – answering SOS’s to sort out their course problems.
"It was important that Craibstone Golf Club found the right person to head up the golf operations and I feel that in Billy I have secured the ideal candidate to make Craibstone a professional, well-run club," said Charles Marshall.
"With Billy’s experience and the knowledge and expertise that my team can bring, we feel we have a winning formula - all we need now is for members to let us know if they intend returning.
"Billy is someone who is respected in the golfing world, who will assisit us in making Craibstone truly special. We know what needs to be done to make all our members proud of their club. All we can ask is that they give us the time and support - and we will deliver. Billy Sim will make it happen and Marshalls will me it happen.
"Not being a golfer myself, I think this gives us an added edge. I believe I have a quality team and I can bring my business ideas and opinions, Billy can added his knowledge and managerial qualities, my financial controller Derek will make sure we run an efficient operation and Robert will give everyone a course to be proud of. I truly believe we have a winning formula."
Billy is married to Gina and they have three children, Daniel, Andrew and Kelly Ann. Daniel, who has a low handicap, is shaping as a good golf prospect. All the Sim family speak Spanish.
Billy flew back to his Hacienda del Alamo Golf Resort villa at the weekend after clinching terms with Charles Marshall. He will return from Spain to Aberdeen on Thursday to start work, ready for the official re-opening on May 1.
Marshall Leisure, the new owners, are to spend a considerable amount of money on refurbishing the clubhouse, building new locker rooms and updating the machinery for Robert Hardie, the greenkeeper.