We’re thrilled to formally introduce you to John Johnstone — the new General Manager of The Ford Field & River Club. With over 39 years of experience in the international and domestic hospitality industry, John brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our team.
A conscientious leader and strategic thinker, John has led teams at luxury hotels, clubs and resorts across the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, including prestigious brands such as The Ritz-Carlton Luxury Hotels & Resorts, Augusta National Golf Club, The Greenbriar and, most recently, at The Broadmoor.
Now, as General Manager, John is dedicated to ensuring that member homeowners and national members enjoy an unparalleled experience at The Ford. From food and beverage to golf and real estate sales to new memberships, John’s leadership will be instrumental in maintaining the luxury and Southern hospitality for which The Ford is known.
We invite you to read our full interview with John to learn more about his role, his family, passion for culinary delights and more — all below.
Welcome to The Ford! What are you most looking forward to as General Manager?
It’s great to be back in Georgia, it truly feels like home. I’ve had a house in the North Georgia Mountains for 15 years. My oldest son attended Georgia Tech and married his high school sweetheart from Augusta, my youngest son was born in Athens — so I guess you could say this is my adopted home away from Scotland.
Now, I’m incredibly excited to start a new chapter here at The Ford. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this beautiful community and lead the team in providing world-class amenities and experiences.
You were born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, which is known for having the friendliest and most hospitable people in the UK. What are the similarities to Southern Lowcountry hospitality?
The biggest similarity is the kindness of the members; they, along with the amazing staff, have warmly and genuinely welcomed me to be a part of The Ford family.
What does it mean to you that The Ford is known as the finest coastal sporting club in the nation?
This is a phenomenal accolade and it’s my goal to ensure that our members receive the finest services and experiences. At the end of the day, I hope to only enhance The Ford’s amenities in this spectacular coastal setting.
How do you feel The Ford stands out from other private club communities?
I believe The Ford’s commitment to family and community — as well as the kindness and support of The Ford team — is a true standout. The pride for this nature-driven community is what really sets it apart.
As General Manager, how do you define your leadership style?
My style is rooted in providing exceptional and personalized services by building a dedicated, quality-focused team. I’m constantly looking for ways to both improve and motivate the team to strive for excellence.
You’re incredibly committed to offering an exceptional standard of service and aiming for excellence when it comes to our members’ experience. Could you tell us about what this looks like behind the scenes?
Behind the scenes for our staff should be no different than our members’ experience. We want to create a culture for The Ford team members that values their hard work and commitment, and provides them an excellent quality of life at work.
Can you speak to your experience with prestigious brands and how you plan to bring that experience to The Ford?
It’s truly the team that makes the difference. I build and support teams by sharing best practices and am constantly striving to go above and beyond by sharing the experiences of the world-class environments I’ve been part of.
Can you talk about your experience at The Ford so far and what you hope to accomplish in your role as general manager?
Although it’s early days and I’m just learning about the team and members, my goal is to offer the best in class when it comes to amenities and services, and to enhance the culture of excellence that exists throughout our community.
You achieved Certified Master Chef from the American Culinary Federation in 2003. Can you tell us more about your passion for the culinary arts and its role in the private club community?
This is obviously a great competitive advantage that I will rely upon to create a five-star culinary program and to provide the members with exceptional dining experiences. This CMC certification means a great deal to me and it keeps me passionate about all things food and beverage. I hope to instill this same passion and knowledge into our culinary team!
In your spare time when you’re not at work, how do you enjoy family life in the Lowcountry?
You can find me making the most of the Lowcountry outdoors, whether that’s fishing, just being out on the lakes or, of course, walking our dog, Daisy.