Future's rosy for Ipswich - Ellice

GOLF: Being secretary/manager of a golf club is a demanding job these days.Just ask Neill Ellice who has just completed two years at Purdis Heath.Having taken early retirement after 31 years with Barclays Bank at the age of 50, Neill started his new position at Ipswich GC three days later.

GOLF

BEING secretary/manager of a golf club is a demanding job these days.

Just ask Neill Ellice who has just completed two years at Purdis Heath.

Having taken early retirement after 31 years with Barclays Bank at the age of 50, Neill started his new position at Ipswich GC three days later.

A member since 1974, Neill was club captain in '98 and also served on the committee for nine years.

Neill describes his job as "very busy with the greatest part being legislation in regards to things like child protection and health and safety.

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"Effectively, it's like running a small business. Being a members' club they make the policy that I have to implement. In effect, I'm like the works manager.

"Having worked in the bank has been a big help. It's a job that if you were to work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, there would still be demands.

"Having said that, it has been a very enjoyable past two years, but it has taken time to get my feet under the table. There are still some areas that I haven't yet crossed.

"I have found that having been a member for many years has had its benefits, knowing the way the club ticks while some of the individuals have been a great help.

"I have learned of the dangers of being drawn into a particular group, and have made sure that I have kept them at arm's length.

"Confidentiality – something that was very important when I was at the bank – has helped me with that particular issue at the golf club."

A collapsed lung and then lower back problems forced Neill to cut short his rugby career at the age of 24.

"I had five years at Ipswich," he said "and played in their centenary year. Once I had to pack up I hated standing on the touchline watching. Although I did go back for one season ten years later, and played one first team game under Chris Gray – I've still got the scars!"

So squash, despite a bad back, and golf were next on Neill's agenda.

"I was introduced to golf by Martin Byford who was a member at the club for many years and came to Purdis where I had lessons with former assistant Jon Mills.

"I was fortunate that at that time the club were experimenting with a nine-hole membership. Although the committee decided it was unsuccessful, they allowed a limited number of us three months to get a handicap of 22 or better," he said.

"I was one of two people to achieve this and as a result was offered full membership, and I've been here ever since."

Neill reduced his handicap to seven, but currently plays off 12.

Born in Singapore where his father was serving in the RAF, Neill also lived in Scotland, Cirencester and Brampton in Huntingdonshire before his father retired and the family to Ipswich when he was six years old.

He was educated at Bucklesham County Primary School and then Felixstowe Grammar that changed its name while Neill was there to Deben High School.

Neill started playing rugby at Ipswich RFC in 1968 while still at school and he recalled: "There was a time that I used to play soccer for the school on Saturday mornings, rugby in the afternoons, soccer for Birchwood in the Ipswich Sunday Morning League and mixed hockey for Fisons on Sunday afternoons."

After leaving school he joined Barclays Bank where he rose from tea boy to operations manager for two branches and ended up as head of the small business section in the Waveney area.

Now he is in the hot seat at Purdis Heath that has a membership of 870 and one of the few clubs these days with a waiting list.

He said: "I feel very fortunate that I joined a club like Ipswich. And I see the future as rosy, basically because we have a great course that is continuing to improve day by day."

Neill certainly puts the hours in at Purdis. His day normally starts between 7.30-8am – "that's when we're very busy" – and finishing is flexible.

"I don't work to a rigid pattern because there is none," he says. "My contract is a five-and-a-half day week, and I work between eight and nine hours a day, but in practice I work to meet the demands of the job.

"If you're not flexible, you won't do the job properly."

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