Stephen Payne; 10 Years of Being Consciously Kind with Troon | (2024)

Posted on April 26, 2024

Stephen Payne; 10 Years of Being Consciously Kind with Troon | (1)

Name: Stephen Payne

Title: Golf Operations Manager

Facility and location: Al Zorah Golf Club, Al Zorah City, Ajman

Troon Value that resonates most with you: Being kind is, I believe, a very powerful value and one that I always have at the forefront of my mind. I also like this value as I believe it personifies the entire UAE mindset.

Q: What has been your favourite or most memorable cultural experience from your time living and work abroad?

A: Having lived abroad now for nearly 11 years and for the most part in the UAE, I have had the pleasure and luxury of having many cultural experiences. One that stands out was showing my family from the UK the incredible grand mosque in Abu Dhabi while I was working at Abu Dhabi National. This was an amazing experience, and my family loved the opportunity to see the culture of Abu Dhabi/ UAE and not just the hotels and beaches. I feel the main cultural experience that I have had from living in the UAE is the opportunity to meet so many different people from all over the world that either work or live in the region. It has been great for me to experience so many different cultures through work colleagues – from cuisines and languages to festivals and holy occasions – and these are the memories that I cherish.

Q: What/Who got you into the golf or hospitality industry and what was your first experience with the game/industry?

A: My first experience in golf came when I was around ten years old when my dad used to take me to the local par-three course in Hertfordshire, UK. I ended up working there when I was 16, picking up range balls and clearing tables in the clubhouse, and this is really where my journey in the industry began. The club, Aldwickbury Park Golf Club, was managed by Burhill Golf & Leisure, and everyone from the club professional to the general manager was so helpful in guiding me through the very early years in the hospitality industry. I wouldn’t say that there was one person that got me into the industry, it was more the incredible welcome and enjoyable environment created by both the team running the club and the members that attracted me.

Stephen Payne; 10 Years of Being Consciously Kind with Troon | (2)

Stephen Payne; 10 Years of Being Consciously Kind with Troon | (3)

Q: What has been your career progression at Troon and what countries have you lived in along the way?

A: Over the past 11 years, I have had had the pleasure of working a 5 different Troon facilities in both in the UK (Hertfordshire) and United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai and most recently Ajman). My career began as a Golf Operations Attendant in Abu Dhabi and with the support and help of many amazing leaders along the way has now progressed to Golf Operations Manager at Al Zorah Golf Club located in Al Zorah City, Ajman. Al Zorah Golf Club is a Nicklaus Design in heart of Al Zorah City, Al Zorah City stands as a new benchmark for luxury living, offering residents an idyllic retreat where natural beauty converges with unparalleled amenities to create a lifestyle of opulence, comfort, and exclusivity. The holes are laid out inside a natural mangrove landscape. With the guidance of Phil Henderson the General Manager here, I look to further progress my career at Al Zorah.

Throughout every step on my career progression a huge thanks has to be shared to the entire team in the Troon International division, notably DJ Flanders our Executive Vice President who has been incredible throughout my 11 years in providing me opportunities, tools and support every step of the way.

Q: What is one food from those countries that you would consider a ‘must eat’ recommendation for those visiting?

A: I have to say the Arabic cuisine is incredibly good and there are so many amazing dishes to choose from. You can find some amazing and really fresh homemade hummus with fresh Arabic breads throughout the UAE, and this is an item I would always have on the table as an appetiser. I would also highly recommend the famous chicken shawarma and there were some amazing cafes in Abu Dhabi which served these from a shop window on the street and were always a go-to for dinner! Having lived in the UK all my life, the ‘must eats’ tend to be different to those visiting or starting work there. However, my wife recently visited the UK for the first time and I did, of course, have to venture to the seaside and introduce her to the classic English dish of fish and chips!

Q: What have you learned by traveling internationally and what advice do you have for others at Troon or within the hospitality industry about working internationally?

A: The thing I have learned from travelling internationally, is that it will not always be plain sailing, there will be many times you miss family and friends, however as with everything in life you have to look at the pro’s and con’s. I have had so many amazing experiences throughout my time abroad and notably met so many amazing people I am now lucky enough to call my friends. Without travelling internationally, I also may never have met my wife who is from the Philippines who I was lucky enough to meet while working in Abu Dhabi.

My advice for others about working internationally is that it is not as scary as you first imagine. You will meet new people from all walks of life, have the opportunity to experience things you never thought you would have. You will learn so much from working internationally and this will also add to your profile and CV for the future. In short, I couldn’t recommend it any more.

Stephen Payne; 10 Years of Being Consciously Kind with Troon | (2024)


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