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GolfClubAtlas.com => Golf Course Architecture => Topic started by: Brian_Ewen on December 02, 2017, 09:27:37 PM

Title: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on December 02, 2017, 09:27:37 PM
https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/golf-in-scotland-is-sinking-fast-delegates-told-1-4629560



Golf in Scotland is sinking fast, delegates told
MARTIN DEMPSTER
Saturday 02 December 2017


It was easily the soundbite that made the biggest impact during a four-and-a-half hour discussion about the future of golf in Scotland. “We are all on the Titanic if we choose not to do anything,” around 500 delegates were told at the first Scottish Golf national conference at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.


When he was subsequently accused by one delegate of being responsible for “a lot of negativity” about the state of the game in its birthplace by delivering that message, Stewart Darling, a Scottish Golf board member, stuck firmly to his guns. “It’s not negativity – it’s reality,” he said in response.


Eleanor Cannon, the Scottish Golf chair, kicked off the day’s proceedings in the capital by asking a wide cross section of the game to “suspend disbelief” following recent negativity towards the governing body on the back of a controversial proposed new strategy being put on hold as some keynote speakers addressed the audience and, with all due respect to the others, it was Darling who definitely made the strongest impression in the hall.


He highlighted that Scottish clubs had been losing roughly 5,000 full members every year in the last 10 years. He warned that the consequence of not doing anything to try and address that situation was an average annual subscription of £478 rising by 34 per cent in five years’ time and to be 84 per cent higher in 10 years’ time. “That is a fairly challenging prognosis in any walk of life,” he said.


One of many illuminating graphics Darling, the CEO of Vianet Group, a strategic insight and cloud based technology business, used to get his message across highlighted golf’s demographic being its biggest problem. Over 55s make up more than 100,000 of golf club members whereas 24 and unders provide just more than 10,000.


He also pointed out that it used to take 20 rounds per year in 2007 for someone to justify their subscription fee and now it is 40. He revealed, too, that only 47 per cent of members submit enough cards (three) to retain a handicap while just 53 per cent play in a formal competition. Having too many courses is one of the game’s problems. “We can’t sustain 600 clubs in 10 years’ time,” he warned.


Darling’s strongest message, though, about what needs to change more than anything was about getting more women into the game. That is based on the fact that women currently make up less than 14 per cent of membership in Scotland. “There is going to have to be a fundamental re-think,” he said. “We need to think very clearly about the future and how we get women in. It is a big opportunity if we accept this to be the case. Some clubs are not welcoming to women and children - that is a fundamental issue.


“Also, we are not connected as a golfing community and need to harness the power of that. Data is the new oil and new water. The power of it is massive for golf. At the moment, we have so little data on our game. We can have power if that changes and that is really important.”


At the moment, only 6 per cent of Scottish Golf’s income is from a commercial source. Roz Cushieri, another board member, agreed when that situation was described as “absolutely disgraceful” by a delegate. “But we need to make sure what we are offering the long list of companies we are engaging with is attractive in terms of inclusivity and other things,” she said before another delegate revealed that one company looking to invest a seven-figure sum in golf had said “no” to Scotland because it felt the game in this country wasn’t “family friendly”.


One of the proposals in that new strategy was to raise the affiliation fee paid by every club member from £11.25 of to £24. Asked if that could still be on the table at the agm in March, board member Malcolm Kpedekpo hinted it might. “This is the start of a process and, if we think £24 is the right price when we look at the strategy, then it would be wrong not to put it forward.”


Cannon, who was delighted with the success of an event that brought the most club administrators, club committee members and professionals under the same roof in Scotland, said she hoped a new chief executive to replace Blane Dodds will be in place early in the New Year. “We had a tremendous response to the advert and will be holding interviews in December but, as part of the consultation process, we thought it was maybe wise to slow things down a bit to get feedback from today,” she said.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on December 03, 2017, 01:01:59 AM


He highlighted that Scottish clubs had been losing roughly 5,000 full members every year in the last 10 years. He warned that the consequence of not doing anything to try and address that situation was an average annual subscription of £478 rising by 34 per cent in five years’ time and to be 84 per cent higher in 10 years’ time. “That is a fairly challenging prognosis in any walk of life,” he said.

If the average annual subscription at a golf club in Scotland is £478 then price alone cannot be the reason for the decline in membership. £478 is very cheap - around half the cost of an annual membership you would expect to pay at an average club in England. Increases in price are clearly always unpopular however low the base price, and will inevitably lead to a loss of customers on the margins. It is clear to the outsider however, that one needs to look deeper than the simple cost to explain the decline in demand for golf club membership.


One of many illuminating graphics Darling, the CEO of Vianet Group, a strategic insight and cloud based technology business, used to get his message across highlighted golf’s demographic being its biggest problem. Over 55s make up more than 100,000 of golf club members whereas 24 and unders provide just more than 10,000.


When I was growing up in the 1970s, both my grandfathers were avid golfers, and I spent many wonderful days with them at their respective clubs. Both of them took up golf in their 50s and the game continued to be at the centre of their lives well into their 70s and 80s. It was the defining activity of their retirements.


After this early introduction to golf you might have expected me to be a life-long devotee. But no - life gets in the way. A busy business life, two marriages, and four children put paid to that! It was only when I turned 50 that I was in a position to take up golf in earnest - after a break of 35 years.

My experience is an extreme example of a typical pattern. Ask avid golf club members about their golfing history and the most common story you will hear is that they played football/rugby/cricket/lacrosse/tennis/squash into their 30s or early 40s and then took up golf as a "replacement activity" once they were forced into sporting retirement.

Golf is a sport for the middle-aged and older. One of the greatest joys of the game is that it can be enjoyed competitively well beyond the age that can by other sports. While obviously it is also a young person's game, those with family and work commitments in their 20s, 30s, and 40s increasingly find it impossible to justify the cost of club membership, both in terms of money and time.

The demographics of most golf clubs - not just those in Scotland - are inevitable. Yet they are seen as a problem.  We are constantly told that the game needs to attract more young people, yet all initiatives fail. The demographics of golf clubs are not a problem so long as sufficient new members in their 40s and 50s are recruited to replace those dying off or giving up the game due to ill health.

Golf needs to sell itself as the perfect activity for a healthy middle and old age.


He also pointed out that it used to take 20 rounds per year in 2007 for someone to justify their subscription fee and now it is 40. He revealed, too, that only 47 per cent of members submit enough cards (three) to retain a handicap while just 53 per cent play in a formal competition. Having too many courses is one of the game’s problems. “We can’t sustain 600 clubs in 10 years’ time,” he warned.


The first point is surely a function of falling green fee prices at most run-of-the-mill golf courses. It used to be that membership was the cheapest way to play golf regularly. Now the non-affiliated golfer can play a plethora of second and third tier courses at less than £15 per round on almost any day other than a Saturday. Very many will be less than £10. This is completely unsustainable. Golf clubs have conspired with TeeOffTimes to bring this disaster upon themselves.


As for the low rate of competitive play, this is a situation I simply don't recognise. The culture among most golfers I know centres around regular qualifying competitions. If only half of golfers in Scotland play regularly in competitions then a very different culture pertains than that I am familiar with.


Darling’s strongest message, though, about what needs to change more than anything was about getting more women into the game. That is based on the fact that women currently make up less than 14 per cent of membership in Scotland. “There is going to have to be a fundamental re-think,” he said. “We need to think very clearly about the future and how we get women in. It is a big opportunity if we accept this to be the case. Some clubs are not welcoming to women and children - that is a fundamental issue.


At Reddish Vale in 1912 we had 110 lady members and 142 men

Now we have 12 ladies and 320 men.

Retaining our male members while restoring the balance to that in Edwardian times would revolutionise the finances of our club. I suspect that we are not atypical.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jim Nugent on December 03, 2017, 01:41:01 AM

One of many illuminating graphics Darling, the CEO of Vianet Group, a strategic insight and cloud based technology business, used to get his message across highlighted golf’s demographic being its biggest problem. Over 55s make up more than 100,000 of golf club members whereas 24 and unders provide just more than 10,000.


Scottish women have an average of about 1.5 babies each over their lifetime.  I believe the number needed to maintain population at its current level is around 2.1 children per woman.  i.e. demographics are probably going to make things much worse.   
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Chaplin on December 03, 2017, 02:54:33 AM
It’s interesting the administrators cite “high” fees as an inhibitor plus their inability to attract corporate funding, the solution - more than double the subscription fee from their dwindling membership!
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on December 03, 2017, 03:49:50 AM

What a waste of time. Lots of figures and facts but very few ideas as to solutions and no ideas on implementation. Basically, we the governing bodies are telling you our members what is wrong but have no desire to help in the solution. Where is the leadership from golf governing bodies in Scotland? No plans, no vision, no action.


Mark,


they came across as believing being in possession of lots of data was what was important. They presented no action plan and yes ironically after saying clubs were charging too much then thought doubling their own fees was still okay. Any other company's board who presided over such a mismanagement would be thrown/forced out but instead it was the members who got the blame.


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on December 03, 2017, 04:09:05 AM
Jim,


Scottish population is due to continue rising for at least another 30 years but I'm sure the average age profile of a golfer will continue to get older.


Whilst I think Duncan is right that a lot of people take up the game in their late 40's / early 50's, I would think that relying solely on this demographic is a sure fire loser.


I think I played around 12 rounds of golf this year, only 5 at my home club. Lucky for me I don't try and justify my subscription fees by the number of rounds I play.

P.S. I wasn't there but can fully believe it was merely a talking shop as Jon indicates.

Ally
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on December 03, 2017, 04:49:42 AM
I would be interested to see some figures for the age profile for golfers over several decades. Not sure it’s ever changed that much.....middle aged/elderly folks, who these days are living longer, plus juniors/younger folks who play, then give up for a few years and then come back to the game.
It would be nice to have more ladies involved in the game though.


As to club membership, look at the number of courses within say a 30 min circle around where you play. Where I am there were only 3 in the late 1970’s, now there are 8. A greater than 50% increase, so it shouldn’t be any wonder that players are spread around more.
Atb


PS - was the game stronger before we had National bodies and CEO’s and HQ’s with staff and seminar’s like the one described above? How much ££ do they take out of the game?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on December 03, 2017, 06:21:11 AM

Thomas,


a big part of the problem is that the governing bodies seem to believe that by having facts and figures they have addressed the problem which is not the case. We had very impressive presentations from several people most of whom lost their clarity in to much detail. In the end it was there are too few people coming into golf, we need to attract more people and ladies seem to be unrepresented so maybe start there.


A committee of a golf club does not need to know what the facts and figures are nor what the problem is nor even what the solution might be. They need to know how to implement that solution.


There was no how nor did I get the impression that any of the bodies thought it was their problem just the clubs' problem. I at no point ever got a feeling of a 'we' during the day and have now more than ever of the opinion that the governing bodies are irrelevant to the day to day concerns of their member clubs.


Booking system????? Kind of sums it up


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on December 03, 2017, 07:33:05 AM
Jon

It is rather self evident that the solution and implementation of a plan must come from individual clubs.  You don't honestly expect an outside agency to solve the problem(s) at £11.50 per member...do you?  The bottom line is in the go-go years too many courses were built.  Sustaining this imaginary level of growth was never in the cards.  So it is dog eat eat dog these days as nobody has a solution which will save 100% of courses.  It is down to each membership to best figure out how they will move forward or if they will move forward.  Sure, it is worthwhile for these types of gatherings, but one shouldn't expect salvation, just info. 

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on December 03, 2017, 07:55:12 AM
I agree with Dai in that I suspect the demographics for club membership probably hasn't changed that much over the years. Its a sport people tend to come to later in life and I think that is the beauty of it. Once you've finished getting lumps kicked out of you on the football or rugby pitch its great to take up a sport where you can have the camaraderie and competition without the physical trauma (rotator cuffs, dodgy knees and bad backs excepted).


And when they say clubs are losing 5,000 members a year that doesn't mean the game is losing 5,000 players it probably means they are joining the ever increasing ranks of golfers who aren't a member of a club, which is what I'm about to do. I'm doing so because I can't justify the cost of membership. Admittedly I'm at a club whose subs are at the high end of the spectrum of the traditional club scene in Scotland, but even so the thinking is the same. I'm not sure I get value for money and I play a lot more golf than someone like Ally.


Then when Duncan says £484 is cheap in comparison to down south, I think he's missing the point slightly. The average is probably brought down by rural clubs where average wages aren't as high as the cities, and wages tend to be lower in rural economies. However the question every member asks themselves at some point is "is it worth it ?". Especially when a lot of clubs are their own worst enemy in giving away visitor rounds at ridiculously cheap prices. That's a race to the bottom as Adrian Stiff has been saying for years.


Now if I was in the SGU I would be concentrating on advising clubs and how to offer better value to their members. Reduce costs and go back to basics. For inland clubs I try and prolong the playing season by concentrating on things like drainage, tree and scrub removal etc. Encourage them to increase visitor fees, and reduce guest fees. Try and make the members fell they aren't associated to some glorified pay and play establishment and have a membership that is worth something.


Niall 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on December 03, 2017, 09:35:35 AM

Jon

It is rather self evident that the solution and implementation of a plan must come from individual clubs.  You don't honestly expect an outside agency to solve the problem(s) at £11.50 per member...do you?  The bottom line is in the go-go years too many courses were built.  Sustaining this imaginary level of growth was never in the cards.  So it is dog eat eat dog these days as nobody has a solution which will save 100% of courses.  It is down to each membership to best figure out how they will move forward or if they will move forward.  Sure, it is worthwhile for these types of gatherings, but one shouldn't expect salvation, just info. 

Ciao


Sean,


as the SGU is there to represent the best interests of its members so of course I would expect them to do this. The membership fee they charge adds up to a pretty penny when it is all totted up and if you look at what the wages are I would expect more from them. However, it is true that in the good times the golf sector forgot to look to the future and this is the reward we are getting.


The big thing for the future is who will implement a workable solution. I certainly hope it is not your vision of the future,


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Rich Goodale on December 03, 2017, 11:52:35 AM
I have been involved with the SGU intermittently in the past 25 years, due to my positions of Finance Convener and Match and Handicap Convener at my local club.  The SGU tries hard, but they are largely clueless about the brave new world that we are all experiencing.  A HUGE amount of their annual "income" is devoted to funding elite "amateur" golfers, in the hope that they will become professional ambassadors for Scottish golf.  As far as I can see, this has been a disaster.


Rich
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Simon Holt on December 03, 2017, 01:59:10 PM
I'm sure some of you read the proposal before Blane Dodds resigned.


We couldn't find a club in East Lothian that was willing to support it but our worry (club pals round a table) was that SG members in other parts of the country may be in a worse state than us, with nothing to lose, and would say "yes".


The jump in fees was not necessarily the concern but more so the lack of clarity on what would happen with the money.  It all seemed to be smoke and mirrors, with the only conclusion we could come up with being a data gathering exercise by creating the centralised system.  With the data then farmed out to fund Scottish Golf?


Any clubs saying "no" would effectively be ostracised by Scottish Golf and their home members would cease to have recognised handicaps.  Nice.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: David_Tepper on December 03, 2017, 02:04:20 PM
 "A HUGE amount of their annual "income" is devoted to funding elite "amateur" golfers, in the hope that they will become professional ambassadors for Scottish golf.  As far as I can see, this has been a disaster."

At the risk of going further off topic, can anyone account for why this is? Currently Russell Knox is the only Scot in the men's top 100 of the world rankings and there are no Scots in the women's top 100. Over the past 10-20 years, the Scandinavian countries (with far fewer courses & golfers) have been way more successful producing world-class golfers than has Scotland. 

(but let's not even get into the state of Scottish football ;) )
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Rich Goodale on December 03, 2017, 04:33:49 PM
Well said, David.


As far as I know, Russell Knox and Martin Laird and even oor Jimmy Gunn got very little of the SGU dosh that we paid for with our subs.   Neither did Jimmy Miller of Brora who was the best golfer in Scotland in the 1960-1990 period (and yes, I include Colin Montgomerie ,Sam Torrance, etc.).


j-j p
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Tom_Doak on December 03, 2017, 05:40:39 PM
By coincidence I'm at the home of England Golf the next three days so I will ask if they see the situation being as dire.  Like the SGU their primary focus seems to be on competitive teams, but at least they are fixing up Woodhall Spa.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Simon Holt on December 03, 2017, 06:15:09 PM

SG say they need to double the fee in an effort to better support the elite players amongst other initiatives. 


Yet apparently England is the one country in Europe that has lower fees than Scotland and is churning out top level golfers.  That shouldn't be the only measure but at least the English kids have homegrown stars to aspire to.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Norbert P on December 03, 2017, 07:17:14 PM
  Must admit . . . by the title, I thought this was a thread about Global Warming.   


  I hope everything works out . . .  on all counts.





Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: David_Tepper on December 03, 2017, 11:33:22 PM
Norbert -

Scotland may not be sinking, but sea levels are certainly rising. If half of what is written about in this new book comes true over the next 50-100 years, links golf may become a thing of the past.

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-water-will-come-jeff-goodell-sea-level-rise-2017-10

DT
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on December 04, 2017, 03:58:45 AM

I'm sure some of you read the proposal before Blane Dodds resigned.


We couldn't find a club in East Lothian that was willing to support it but our worry (club pals round a table) was that SG members in other parts of the country may be in a worse state than us, with nothing to lose, and would say "yes".


The jump in fees was not necessarily the concern but more so the lack of clarity on what would happen with the money.  It all seemed to be smoke and mirrors, with the only conclusion we could come up with being a data gathering exercise by creating the centralised system.  With the data then farmed out to fund Scottish Golf?


Any clubs saying "no" would effectively be ostracised by Scottish Golf and their home members would cease to have recognised handicaps.  Nice.


Simon,


there is no plan really. The SGU boffins are great at gathering data and reaching conclusions. They have no idea about solutions or implementation. In fact, I get the impression they don't even consider doing the last two.


Also, compared to England there is no real junior or youth scene up here once you drop below the top level. That is one big reason Scotland does not produce many world class golfers.


The SGU need to look for committee and management from within the golfing world. The last head man has shown up the reason why you should not employ someone with no real interest in the game whose heart lies elsewhere. Back to basics is the way to rebuild but that means gutting the present setup.
Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on December 04, 2017, 04:42:15 AM
I wonder what the salary for Mr Dodds replacement is likely to be and how much ££ p/a is spent on the ‘data gatherers’, consultants and the like.
Central sporting organisations do like spending money.....other people’s mainly, and feathering nests is not an unknown occurrence.
Atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Tony_Muldoon on December 04, 2017, 06:12:07 AM


Golf needs to sell itself as the perfect activity for a healthy middle and old age.




Agree 100%.   Can't understand why none of the governing bodies seem to though?
There is already a deal of information about this, but dont bother looking on offical golf websites for it.

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on December 04, 2017, 11:18:31 AM
I have always been big on collecting data and understanding the trending patterns associated with it.


There is a pattern about how people play golf as a regular member and then give up the game that I have noticed, somebody can be quite happy with once a week golf and then an intruption from either their own circumstances or their playing partners circumstance can see them quitting. People play golf in pairs or packs, if the leader wants to move club the others often do the same. There is a pattern wherby people stop playing in competitions because their handicaps are too low and they can't win or they know they can't get better. The most obvious pattern is the junior to 40 year old, where he is mad keen at 15 and then discovers girls, when settled he plays a bit, when a child comes along time becomes the biggest enemy and its a 15 year enemy for many people that can't justify the time or money versus a family. At 40 many come back to the game, but realistically it is difficult to retain members from 16-40 and likely always will be, they may still consider themselves golfers with a few outings per year.



Going back to ABC stuff the first thing is to understand why numbers are falling in the game and no one really has the definitive reason why this has happened in the UK. I don't know if their is a nice answer to the problem other than the market has shrunk and some golf courses don't need to be golf courses. The 'there used to be 3 golf courses within 30 minutes of me and now there are 8' is pretty common. We really need 25% of golf courses to close in the UK, the problem is not just Scotland it is just seeing the effects of death spiral earlier because membership is at its cheapest there if £478 is the middle marker for annual membership, in the South we are nearer £1000.


It has become a rat race with some clubs looking to grab a few shillings for an empty space. Those clubs just don't hurt themselves, they pull down other good business's too. More than half of golf clubs still don't know or understand the relevance to pricing their product, if you have 500 members and a set annual fee what is good value to one person is not good value to another because one person may play 100 times and another just 20 times. Processing the data over the years, more than 50% played less than 25 times, for 50% it was cheaper to pay a green fee....so was born the flexible friend the membership that you pay a fee to retain that feeling of still being a member with a smaller green fee back ended. It will save some members but not all. The real problem I think is .... it just takes too long to play and peoples free time is less than it was in yesteryear with other attractions to do and enjoy that were not available 15-20-25-30 years ago.


I wish I had a nice answer but I don't, the only real benefit from golf is the walking and exercise it provides. You will live 5-10 years longer if you play golf once a week is perhaps our trump card and as mentioned earlier is something that our governing bodies need to harness as our big play.


I have little faith in our governing bodies and have found them mainly to be among the most stupid of people that are very slow to react and cocooned in their minor opinions, many of our members object each year to paying the £21 fees for what largely supports the elite few and the tail grabbers.


It would not surprise me if those at Woodhall Spa thought the problem was just confined to Scotland. I will be interested in the reply that Tom Doak gets.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on December 04, 2017, 01:35:28 PM



Golf needs to sell itself as the perfect activity for a healthy middle and old age.




Agree 100%.   Can't understand why none of the governing bodies seem to though?
There is already a deal of information about this, but dont bother looking on offical golf websites for it.


Tony,


this is because the general attitude of the SGU is that golf has too many courses, that the number of participants is shrinking and clubs need to accept this as a situation that cannot be altered. If any business executive were to spout such tripe their feet would not touch the floor as they were slung out of the room. I know for a fact that the SGU were actively turning away new members a few years ago so it is no surprise they are incapable of growing the game.




Adrian,


absolutely spot on!!!


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on December 04, 2017, 02:20:33 PM
Excellent post above by Adrian. Hits numerous nails on the head.
Atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on December 04, 2017, 02:24:15 PM


Golf needs to sell itself as the perfect activity for a healthy middle and old age.




Agree 100%.   Can't understand why none of the governing bodies seem to though?
There is already a deal of information about this, but dont bother looking on offical golf websites for it.


Probably because the governing bodies are made up of people who've been playing golf since the age of 12 and assume that that is the norm. Hence the obsession with trying to attract youngsters.


As Adrian points out, most juniors give up the game at the age of 20 or so due to other commitments. Many will return in early middle age, at the time of life when most golfers take up the sport for the first time.


So the issue facing golf is achingly simple;  selling the game to 40-year olds, whether or not they played as a youngster.


Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Tony_Muldoon on December 04, 2017, 04:43:23 PM
FWIW I played very little as a teenager but golf was in the family. My Grandmother competed in the highest standards in Ireland and my father was a Category one golfer for 4 decades.

In July 2000 I was 42 years old and a big change occurred when my daughter could get herself up at weekends – prior to that my working wife and I took it in turns to sleep in one day and get up with her the next. One of my mates (who’s children were a similar age) said he'd started to play golf and I was welcome to join him.  Within weeks I loved the outdoor game, the challenge, pretty much everything about the game and I was hooked. It colours my view, but if it worked for me ....
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jerry Kluger on December 04, 2017, 06:34:08 PM
On the other side of the coin is the fact that playing golf doesn't necessarily have to interfere with one's other obligations, i.e. the smartphone.  I do find it annoying when another player is using his phone during a round but we must keep in mind that the phone is the reason why he can be playing golf instead of sitting at a desk, etc.


There is a hugely popular TV show in the US called "This Is Us," which a story about a white couple beginning around 1980 that is expecting triplets and one dies at childbirth and they choose to adopt a black new born who had been abandoned at a local fire station.  It jumps back and forth in time but one episode is pertinent to this discussion.  When the kids around 8 years old the father is taken by his friends to play golf.  They are in a golf shop and they are outfitting him with golf clothes, clubs, etc. and he says in a quite distressed tone: "This could take 4 or 5 hours."  Their response: "THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT." We forget that part of the beauty of the game is getting outside with your friends for 4 hours and try and forget about your other obligations.


Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on December 05, 2017, 01:52:59 AM
Of course you're quite right Jerry.


However, wives and girlfriends in the 21st century are very different beasts to those in most of of the 20th century.


All in all, it is undoubtedly a good thing that fathers today generally play a far greater hands-on role with their kids at weekends than in the past.


It's not good for participation in golf, though.


It reiterates my theory that the main target market for golf should be guys retiring from other sports such as football or rugby. If hubby has had a free pass for 10 years to play football on a Saturday it is not a great leap to transfer this goodwill to golf.


There is a small window of opportunity though. Leave it for six months after quitting football and you'll never get out on a Saturday alone again!
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on December 05, 2017, 04:25:26 AM
Of course you're quite right Jerry.
However, wives and girlfriends in the 21st century are very different beasts to those in most of of the 20th century.
All in all, it is undoubtedly a good thing that fathers today generally play a far greater hands-on role with their kids at weekends than in the past.
It's not good for participation in golf, though.
It reiterates my theory that the main target market for golf should be guys retiring from other sports such as football or rugby. If hubby has had a free pass for 10 years to play football on a Saturday it is not a great leap to transfer this goodwill to golf.
There is a small window of opportunity though. Leave it for six months after quitting football and you'll never get out on a Saturday alone again!


From a few discussions I've been party to I reckon there are quite a few wives/partners who would be happy for their husbands/partners, especially when they're retired, to spend more time at the golf course......gets them out of the house and away from under their feet! :) Some have even suggested they'd be happy if their other-half's golf subscriptions were even higher, maybe a lot higher,......just get them out the house!
atb



Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sam Andrews on December 05, 2017, 12:43:24 PM
Do the authorities governing lawn bowls get as frantic as the golf authorities about youth participation? Bit like golf was the next choice after my hamstrings said no to rugby and cricket, I've always assumed that once I can't swing a club, the bowling green will be blessed with my presence. After that, they can scatter my ashes on the 17th tee at Rye in the hope that, if enough of us do it, it'll be higher and turn into a better hole.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Tom_Doak on December 05, 2017, 01:00:44 PM

Yet apparently England is the one country in Europe that has lower fees than Scotland and is churning out top level golfers.  That shouldn't be the only measure but at least the English kids have homegrown stars to aspire to.


Well I assume England has something like two or three times the number of participant clubs contributing to the fund to field exactly the same number of players on their team as on the Scots team.  That's a pretty big advantage.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on December 05, 2017, 01:50:36 PM
Do the authorities governing lawn bowls get as frantic as the golf authorities about youth participation? Bit like golf was the next choice after my hamstrings said no to rugby and cricket, I've always assumed that once I can't swing a club, the bowling green will be blessed with my presence. After that, they can scatter my ashes on the 17th tee at Rye in the hope that, if enough of us do it, it'll be higher and turn into a better hole.
The authorities are mainly interested in elite golfers and junior golfers yes. I think only 3 or 4 of the 40 or so regional bodies contributed to the funding of the Vat argument with the HMRC.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on December 05, 2017, 01:53:49 PM

Yet apparently England is the one country in Europe that has lower fees than Scotland and is churning out top level golfers.  That shouldn't be the only measure but at least the English kids have homegrown stars to aspire to.


Well I assume England has something like two or three times the number of participant clubs contributing to the fund to field exactly the same number of players on their team as on the Scots team.  That's a pretty big advantage.
Yes probably nearly three times as many but we currently pay £21 for EGU membership & our local Gloucestershire county fees per member, a lot more than Scotland if that current price quoted is right.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on December 05, 2017, 02:23:14 PM



Given that much of the county/national body £ involved allegedly goes to supporting the best juniors and county, regional, national, elite amateur players it does make one wonder the appropriateness of the spend when only a tiny proportion of those aided end up regularly on our TV screens. The other question is to what extent those who are helped ever help-back, either in kind or financially, in return?
But then again taking Adrian’s figure, £21 ea cumulative does buy a lot of blazers and Galvin Green clothing and trips to warm climates for the ‘helpers’.


Atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ryan Coles on December 05, 2017, 03:04:12 PM



Given that much of the county/national body £ involved allegedly goes to supporting the best juniors and county, regional, national, elite amateur players it does make one wonder the appropriateness of the spend when only a tiny proportion of those aided end up regularly on our TV screens. The other question is to what extent those who are helped ever help-back, either in kind or financially, in return?
But then again taking Adrian’s figure, £21 ea cumulative does buy a lot of blazers and Galvin Green clothing and trips to warm climates for the ‘helpers’.


Atb


Dai


What is it exactly you'd like to see a governing body in the home unions do, and how much are you personally prepared to pay for it?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ryan Coles on December 05, 2017, 03:09:51 PM
As I see it, the problems the Home Unions have is in terms of funding, over half of the sports participants (Non members) pay nothing to the Governing Body.


In addition, an under 18 junior member paying £50 per annum pays the same £21 affiliation fee as a £3k per annum stockbroker belt dweller.


A more equitable way for Unions to be funded would be for Clubs to pay a % of turnover or a rateable value multiplier.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on December 05, 2017, 03:21:34 PM
I am not anti county golf or juniors and the people involved at county level are pretty much all level headed people that contribute to the game and I would not begrudge them a Calvin Green set of waterproofs for the time they put in.


The real idiots are at the next level.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on December 05, 2017, 07:35:49 PM
Do the authorities governing lawn bowls get as frantic as the golf authorities about youth participation?


Another sport that is dying in Scotland.

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on December 06, 2017, 03:14:14 AM

I have said it before I would like to see the SGU and other home Unions develop a flexible online booking system that golf clubs could use instead of Golf Now etc. They could ask say £100 per club per year which would bring in several million which should be enough to develop and administrate such a scheme. It should have been done 10 years ago but better now than never.


Also, the SGU should be talking to their member clubs about possible solutions and implementation not just saying this is the situation figure it out yourself because if that is their attitude as it is, what is the benefit they offer to the clubs?


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on December 06, 2017, 04:34:53 AM
Millions?  So the unions have to work together  ;D  I have no issue with your scheme so long as it works and is cheaper to operate. As an aside, a national booking system could well be the death knoll for some clubs because it becomes very easy to compare. There has to be some action on the part of clubs to make them stand out from the crowd.  Unfortunately, that action seems to be green fee reduction for those involved in booking systems (read discount systems).  That is probably in large part true because a good number of clubs/courses are not distinctive in any way. 

I am curious as to what solutions you expect SG to come up with for individual clubs to resolve their issues?  I think your expectations are unrealistic.  Aren't these SG guys simply members of Scottish clubs?  Wouldn't they already have tried ideas back at their own clubs?  It is a totally different game if clubs pay for added services such as marketing, but to expect real help based in £11.50 dues per member is a unrealistic. 

Like Adrian, I think the issue is clear, too many clubs and courses built upon unsustainable math (not at all unusual).  There isn't a solution to keep all the Scottish courses viable.  It is down to individual clubs to best figure out how they will be distinctive enough to capture a sustainable percentage of members and visitor fees.  For the record, I don't believe Scotland is sinking fast.  Scotland has or is close to having the most golf courses per capita in the world.  I don't believe Scotland has had much of a real population increase since 1975, yet how many courses were built since then?

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on December 06, 2017, 07:43:41 AM

Like Adrian, I think the issue is clear, too many clubs and courses built upon unsustainable math (not at all unusual).  There isn't a solution to keep all the Scottish courses viable. 

Ciao


I'm becoming more and more convinced that the issue isn't golfers giving up the game but giving up memberships. The solution from a club perspective then becomes how to retain and encourage new members. Visitor income was once upon a time looked at as bunce but now I believe it is actually eating into membership subs with more and more members opting to leave and become a nomadic golfer.


Making visitor rounds easier to book online only makes it easier for the nomad. It also to an extent erodes the value of membership as the element of exclusivity begins to disappear. While clubs chase marginal income, and are encouraged to do so by the SGU, they neglect and abuse their core income ie. members. The sooner clubs realise that and start addressing it the better.


Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on December 06, 2017, 01:11:57 PM
Thanks for the question Ryan.
The level of funding is not necessarily the issue. It's what's done with the funding and the accountability for it. I have mentioned before the tale of how a national sports body took a team across the world to play in matches and how the players travelled economy class and shared hotel rooms while the blazers/committee members flew first class and had individual hotel rooms.
As to the use of the funding, certainly not big HQ buildings and the corresponding staffing! I would like to see more funding go towards the approx 7-13 age group. Give them low cost opportunities at golf.......once upon a time in the UK this was putting greens and pitch-n-putt in the local park with rented/deposit clubs plus local authority municipal, as distinct from pay-n-play, courses. If the youngsters like it, aid them through this age group. If they're keen, they'll carry on. And after a certain age, low teens, and keenness has been reached, well the cream normally rises to the top. Reward genuine volunteers as well, although not just because they're relatives of the juniors!
atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on December 06, 2017, 01:13:54 PM

Sean,


taken over several years yes millions. The Scottish golf is run not by a cosy little group of golf club members who leave their clubs now and again to do a good deed but by paid employees who purport to have some expertise in which ever field they are taken on to do. As I am sure you are aware the main employee has just done a bunk back to tennis the sport he truly loves begging the question why was he involved in golf?


So what do you suppose a body set up to represent the best interests of its members ought to do if not look after the best interests of its members?


I am of the same opinion as Niall in that golfers are choosing to give up membership and play on the cheap greenfees you can now get. Sites such as Golf Now are the main reason for this and the SGU should have realised this a long time ago. I disagree with the idea there are too many courses if the issues are addressed properly. As to possible solutions. Maybe getting a workshop together to discuss this would be a good start.


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on December 06, 2017, 01:19:56 PM

Sean,


taken over several years yes millions. The Scottish golf is run not by a cosy little group of golf club members who leave their clubs now and again to do a good deed but by paid employees who purport to have some expertise in which ever field they are taken on to do. As I am sure you are aware the main employee has just done a bunk back to tennis the sport he truly loves begging the question why was he involved in golf?


So what do you suppose a body set up to represent the best interests of its members ought to do if not look after the best interests of its members?


I am of the same opinion as Niall in that golfers are choosing to give up membership and play on the cheap greenfees you can now get. Sites such as Golf Now are the main reason for this and the SGU should have realised this a long time ago. I disagree with the idea there are too many courses if the issues are addressed properly. As to possible solutions. Maybe getting a workshop together to discuss this would be a good start.


Jon


I don't disagree with you, but there is no way on earth that you will get lasting solutions at £11.50 per member.  That is far from real world thinking.  Remember, what clubs do is on them, not Scottish Golf or God.  I don't see the point in your blame game.


Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on December 07, 2017, 01:46:05 AM

Sean,


it is not a blame game just the opposite. It is a question of what is done next. I would be in agreement with you about the SGU if it were not for the fact that the are a members organisation set up to look after the best interests of their members. Individual clubs doing their own thing will not be anywhere near as effective as all the clubs implementing a countrywide plan. This is exactly what the SGU is there to coordinate. It is nothing to do with money, only to do with seriously looking at this issue.


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on December 07, 2017, 04:49:07 AM
Jon

You and I look at business in a fundamentally different way.  If I owned a golf course there is no way I would be sitting on my ass waiting for a magical country-wide solution...which I don't believe exists.  I guess we have to agree to disagree.

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on December 07, 2017, 06:04:01 AM

Sean,


as a golf club owner I can assure you that I am not sitting on my ass waiting for  a magical country-wide solution however that does not take away from the fact that the SGU are failing its members. Of course as you believe there is no hope your conclusions are not surprising.


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Tim Martin on December 07, 2017, 06:48:15 AM
Of course you're quite right Jerry.
However, wives and girlfriends in the 21st century are very different beasts to those in most of of the 20th century.
All in all, it is undoubtedly a good thing that fathers today generally play a far greater hands-on role with their kids at weekends than in the past.
It's not good for participation in golf, though.
It reiterates my theory that the main target market for golf should be guys retiring from other sports such as football or rugby. If hubby has had a free pass for 10 years to play football on a Saturday it is not a great leap to transfer this goodwill to golf.
There is a small window of opportunity though. Leave it for six months after quitting football and you'll never get out on a Saturday alone again!


From a few discussions I've been party to I reckon there are quite a few wives/partners who would be happy for their husbands/partners, especially when they're retired, to spend more time at the golf course......gets them out of the house and away from under their feet! :) Some have even suggested they'd be happy if their other-half's golf subscriptions were even higher, maybe a lot higher,......just get them out the house!
atb


I remember going on an overnight trip back in the day prior to the advent of cell phones. One of the guys did not show up on time and a call was placed to his house. His wife answered and said "Joe is on his way. Please don't leave without him". When we told Joe that his wife seemed concerned that he might miss the trip he said "She's been looking forward to this for weeks." ;D
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on December 07, 2017, 07:10:52 AM

Sean,


as a golf club owner I can assure you that I am not sitting on my ass waiting for  a magical country-wide solution however that does not take away from the fact that the SGU are failing its members. Of course as you believe there is no hope your conclusions are not surprising.


Jon

Jon

No hope?  I don't think Scotland is sinking, what is sinking is excess...so hope is not an issue.  Its basic economics, a larger supply of courses for the same population level as 1975 isn't a problem that has a country-wide solution unless by solution you mean every 10th course (at least) volunteers to shut its doors.  For me to accept that the supply of courses is on target I would need to see much more compelling data than I have to date.  Nothing I have read in 15 years suggests the course supply in GB&I properly meets the demand.  Yet somehow, you expect Scottish Golf to come up with magic bullets for £11.50 per member to create demand.  I understand if you don't think SC is serving you well, but there is a solution to that issue...don't be a participating club. Its like anything, if you think the product is poor value then stop purchasing the product.   

All that said, I recently had dealings with SC.  I didn't know there was a card which offered member benefits..how is this possible?  It is unbelievable that a club would participate in SC, yet not inform its members of the organization, what they do and what are the benefits of membership.  That is an area where SC should be working much more closer with clubs to get the message across. To be honest though, the English Golf Union doesn't make sure it is part of any club information either.  I am not sure I have even seen a link from websites to the EGU....very odd.  All is well though, I have now discovered how to get a SC card and what benefits are on offer. The SC folks were very cordial and helpful...but still, it shouldn't have been down to me to track this info down when I paid the dues.  Why wasn't I sent a welcome email with info?

Ciao 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on December 07, 2017, 07:54:20 AM
Sean
 
I partially agree about economics however do we really have that more courses in Scotland than we did back in 1975 ? I’m sure we have but I don’t see it being a particularly big percentage increase. What would be interesting to find out are what are the relative costs in membership, in real terms, between 1975 and the present day.
 
I wonder how many clubs took on significant capital projects, mainly involving the clubhouse, over the period when times were good.  I’d bet that is having a bearing in terms of interest charges and ongoing running costs.
 
If you can reduce the cost, you increase the number of golfers willing to become members. That’s the basic economics the SGU should be focusing on.
 
Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on December 07, 2017, 09:50:07 AM
Niall

I wouldn't be surprised if there is at least a 10% increase of course supply since 1975.  Part of the blowback of that additional course supply was a more upscale model of clubs and maintenance.  It may seem modest looking at the quality of what was actually built, but in terms of cost the poor quality doesn't have much bearing other than higher maintenance bills.  So yes, reduced costs would help generate more market demand, but I am not convinced costs can be cut enough to create a demand to fill all the courses...especially given the fact that cost conscious golfers can easily get cheap golf without a membership commitment.  IMO, it really comes down to a market correction in  numbers of courses.  Golf clubs need to be in demand to remain robust and that means the best thing for clubs is when waiting lists exist and entry fees can be charged.  Sure, it knocks a decent percentage of marginal golfers to the kerb, but thats life.  Sometimes it a buyer market and sometimes its a seller market.  Right now non-choosy golfers have the power simply because of an over-supply in the market.  The issue is how do clubs make themselves stand out from the crowd so they can survive?  That is an individual club process and decision.  I guess we can hammer on SC to create more demand, but to be honest I see that happening mainly at mid to high level clubs via tourism.  The bottom feeders don't have this luxury because lts face it, there really is much to distinguish these courses...hence the race to the bottom with cheap visitor fees.  But I reiterate, Scotland is not sinking.  The game of golf is robust and will remain so. The landscape may change much like we see gentrification of city neighbourhoods, but that is how life rolls. 

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on December 07, 2017, 10:46:55 AM
I agree with the view that people don't really give up the game of golf but they give up the aspect of membership in favour of pay and play. There is DATA linked with this and this is my finding.


We have several categories ranging from traditional one payment membership to a scheme where you pay £335 per year and then pay per round, £20 on our main course.... here are the problems.


1. The Member will only do what is exactly best for him at that time and that could mean changing categories several times as he plays more, gets injured, gets married, has more work to do, has a child that wants to go to the football.


2. As they downgrade they don't really like to play on consecutive days, too frequently, when it rains, if it might rain, when the course might be undergoing maintenance, in the cold....all because they now have to pay £20.


3. Because they don't play as often they hit bad shots, they score badly and the enjoyment factor is less....they are not so eager for the next game. The £335 and 6 games added up to £455 which registers an annoyance factor of nearly £80 a round. They now quit their low category in favour of just paying a green fee when they play, usually then at a sub-standard £20 course (or quite a good one if they scan teeofftimes/ GolfNow and grab the barter bargain of the day.


4. The pattern continues until they double hit chips, slice tee shots into the trees, hack their approaches into the lake and the enjoyment factor is reduced until the play so infrequently that golf may just be an annual game with the workpals, stag weekend  ect.


I have seen this happen hundreds of times. Someone who was playing 40 times a year at one stage  is playing 1-3 rounds per year within 3 or 4 years.


So the real key is to get more people playing more rounds, the total number of people that call themselves a golfer still has not altered too much.


Key target areas are the 40 year old ex footballer with 15 year old children less reliant on dad.


Sell the game on the basis that a 4 hour walk burns 1000 calories, equal to an hour in the gym and you can play a round of golf for the next 40 years and you are likely to live 5 years longer based on the muscle usage, exercise, positive mental aspects of competition.


The game itself needs to be 45 minutes quicker. The game itself can't vary too much from the way it is played, so larger 8 inch holes are not a great idea. 9 hole evening competitions could be encouraged. Rule change that treat every lost ball as a lateral. Rule change that forbids marking a line on the ball and/or a rule that you can only mark and clean the ball once on the green, no penalty for striking and opponents ball or flag. Only your opponent can ask you to mark the ball a second time if it is in his direct play.


The Culling of 20-25% of all golf courses in the UK would be healthy for the remaining 75-80%, as it stands 95% of clubs are struggling to make ends meet and many clubs vie for another's business often with ill informed decision makers that discount their product to such a price that membership makes no sense.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on December 07, 2017, 12:45:33 PM

Sean,


by 'no hope' I was referring to your belief that a country wide solution did not exist not that golf had no hope. To be clear, my course is not a member of the SGU as they were not interested in acquiring new members (and fees) when I talked to them. I do agree with you about no solution in so far as with the current attitude of the SGU but I firmly believe there are things that could be done countrywide to improve the situation.


You are correct that the population has remained stable since 1975 increasing by just 15'000 since then though by 35'000 since 2000. However, many of the new courses are not member clubs and cater to the golfing tourist.


I think the experience you had with the SGU and their lack of selling the product or providing information kind of sums up where the problem lies. Were this to alter for the better then there would be the chance of finding a positive way forward. Alas, because they are not tied financially to sustaining the game the solution seems to be to up the fees rather than sell more product.


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: John Kavanaugh on December 07, 2017, 12:54:19 PM
The only reason golf survives in America is because of carts. Has Scotland considered introducing the electric savior?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Lou_Duran on December 08, 2017, 10:47:11 AM

One of many illuminating graphics Darling, the CEO of Vianet Group, a strategic insight and cloud based technology business, used to get his message across highlighted golf’s demographic being its biggest problem. Over 55s make up more than 100,000 of golf club members whereas 24 and unders provide just more than 10,000.


Scottish women have an average of about 1.5 babies each over their lifetime.  I believe the number needed to maintain population at its current level is around 2.1 children per woman.  i.e. demographics are probably going to make things much worse.

https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/news/2017/scotlands-population-is-increasing

The issue is primarily one of demographics, economics, and the political choices made in response.  When there are 800 more deaths than births and the population is growing only through immigration, the sport's authorities better hope that the newcomers are from a golfing culture (most unlikely).

Given human nature, adaptation is probably the only realistic option.  With many competing demands for funds, I think it is hard to argue for macro, top-down solutions.  Each individual club will likely have to map out its best course of action given the local realities it faces.

I do wonder how long the current model of charging substantially higher fees to visitors even at some non-descript courses will last.  At my home course, I've heard a lot of once-and-done comments from members about both Scotland and Ireland.  I find it astounding that guest fees at some clubs are as much as dues for three months. 

Barney's comments are only partially tongue-in-cheek.  Another source of revenues would be useful, and when visitors from the UK play here, they seem to be partial to the Club Car, beer cooler, and even a C&W playlist.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on December 08, 2017, 11:39:47 AM
Sweet Lou

The clubs charging the sort of green fees you suggest are not struggling. Though I agree that eventually the well will run dryish for folks willing to pay the crazy green fees now demanded.  Or if this side of golf is sustained, it will be at the expense of club membership. 

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jerry Kluger on December 09, 2017, 06:07:43 PM
Just as an aside as we have discussed bringing new players to the game in their 40s and 50s, I am watching the Golf Channel and Greg Norman is on and he was asked about his golf game.  His reply was that he played 5 times last year and maybe 8 times this year. He was then asked if he missed the game at all and his answer was a simple "no." Seems hard for most of us to understand how someone who could play the game so well would not have any interest in playing anymore.  I am sure we could give any number of reasons for this but it is still hard for us who have never played at a very high level and love the game could imagine giving the game up, and especially so if we could play it really well.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on December 09, 2017, 06:59:24 PM
Just as an aside as we have discussed bringing new players to the game in their 40s and 50s, I am watching the Golf Channel and Greg Norman is on and he was asked about his golf game.  His reply was that he played 5 times last year and maybe 8 times this year. He was then asked if he missed the game at all and his answer was a simple "no." Seems hard for most of us to understand how someone who could play the game so well would not have any interest in playing anymore.  I am sure we could give any number of reasons for this but it is still hard for us who have never played at a very high level and love the game could imagine giving the game up, and especially so if we could play it really well.
The reason I expect is from the same thought pattern as the people I described as semi-quitting.....they don't enjoy it as much because they are not as good as they were and there is an annoyance factor hitting bad shots. There is another trending pattern that as soon as you are working or involved with golf, it is not the same sort relaxer that it was. For professional golfers there is a trending pattern as soon as they start designing courses the quality of their golf goes downhill, happened with Tiger although it is usual that golfpro designers design at the end of their careers.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on December 10, 2017, 02:55:02 AM
This is one of the joys of taking up golf later in life.


At 57, my golf is improving all the time. I have not lost any distance - in fact I am gaining distance and consistency as my techique improves through tuition and practice. I see no reason why I shouldn't continue to lower my scores well into my 60s.

Most of my compatriots who have played the game for longer are seeing their abilities wane, causing much frustration. I feel lucky.


Incidentally,  our club manager attended a meeting of local clubs this week organised by England Golf. The main topic was increasing club membership overall and the main thrust of the keynote speech was selling the game to the over 40s.

Hallelujah!
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on March 12, 2018, 10:08:16 PM

https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/martin-dempster-scottish-golf-in-mess-and-board-must-take-share-of-blame-1-4704474



Martin Dempster: Scottish Golf in mess and board must take share of blame
March 12th, 2018


There have been some lows for Scottish golf – some highs, too, admittedly – in the time I’ve covered this great sport but never before I have I felt the game in this country has been in the complete and utter mess it currently finds itself.


The failure by Scottish Golf to secure backing for a proposal to raise the affiliation fee paid by club members by £3.75 to £15 at Saturday’s annual general meeting has left the governing body in a dire situation, one that needs to be addressed here and now.


Let’s start by asking why the stakeholders – consisting of men’s Area and women’s County associations as well as the country’s near-600 clubs – rejected that proposal, the main purpose of which was to raise extra revenue to offset sportscotland funding having been slashed and allow Scottish Golf to push ahead with a plan to try to help clubs in the ongoing fight against declining members.


Was it really because rank-and-file golfers in the sport’s birthplace aren’t prepared to stump up an additional £3.75 – the cost of a single golf ball or a pint of beer or lager? For some, probably yes and that is entirely their prerogative.


I suspect, though, that the main reason for the “no” vote was that those involved at the sharp end of matters at grass-roots level have lost faith in Scottish Golf and, therefore, simply aren’t prepared to let Eleanor Cannon, the chair, and her board of non-executive directors to shape the game’s future in this country.


If so, why is that the case? Well, could it have been that, by all accounts, Scottish Golf’s numbers were just not adding up in the document sent to clubs outlining its battleplan and that, coupled with an apparent lack of real clarity about how clubs were actually going to be assisted, effectively triggered a red light.


What also didn’t help, of course, was that the governing body had initially proposed the affiliation fee being hiked up to £24, only for that to be swiftly withdrawn when it soon became dead in the water – along with hopes of introducing a golf tourism tax and the implementation of a customer relationship management (CRM) system.


Yes, they might all have been ideas tabled by Blane Dodds during his short spell as chief executive before he jumped ship to take up the same role at Tennis Scotland, but the board surely gave him their backing and that, I’m afraid, played a big part in the sorry mess that has now been created.


It was distressing to hear Cannon claim that sexism towards her was part of the reason the proposal failed. Equally embarrassing for everyone involved in the sport in this country was hearing Malcolm Robertson, an outgoing board member, saying that certain individuals should be “ashamed at some of their behaviour” towards her during this process. Seriously, that really is cringeworthy and totally unacceptable.


What matters now is that, somehow, Scottish Golf can pick itself up off the canvas and have a fighting chance of moving forward with any real strands of positivity, which isn’t going to be very easy when cuts of up to £450,000 will need to be made in the next 18 months on the back of savings of around £700,000 having already being implemented.


Can that happen with the current board pulling the strings and, more importantly, the bad atmosphere within the game that appears to have been created? The answer to that, I’m afraid, would appear to be “no” and I don’t make that prediction lightly.


I have no axe whatsoever to grind with Cannon and certainly respect her. I feel confident she took up the leadership role with the best intentions and, despite Saturday’s disappointment, is still talking bullishly about wanting to create a bright future for Scottish Golf and its members.


Truthfully, though, how can a board be successful in shaping a sport’s future when its members are not actually known by the people they are attempting to influence? Only Stephen Docherty, who has now ended his stint, and Addi Spiers provided any real golfing experience around that table and I say that with all due respect to the other non-executive directors, none of whom, contrary to what some people seem to believe, are paid for their roles.


Incoming chief executive Andrew McKinlay, on the other hand, is set to be rewarded handsomely when he when he leaves his current post at the Scottish Football Association to take up the reins in May, and the first thing he needs to do is get on the phone to all the country’s leading players, male and female, to get them to help shape that future because, believe me, they are up for it and equipped for the challenge of trying to play a part in sorting out this mess.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Chaplin on March 13, 2018, 04:07:44 AM
Tom Doak - if the English golf union has an advantage over the Scots, how do we explain Northern Ireland with 1/3 of Scotland’s population producing three winners of major championships over the past 10 years?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on March 13, 2018, 04:39:39 AM

What did they expect? That the members would just say yes to more of the same?


It is frighteningly sad that they just do not get it. Scottish Golf has spent years doing absolutely nothing for it's members concentrating on an elite player and tournament programme that has completely failed to produce any results. Big wages, lots of jollies and no results. Of course when the board in its wisdom employs a person to head the organisation who is nothing to do with the game of golf and only interested in the position as a stop gap until he can get back to his true passion of tennis then such dismal results are almost a forgone conclusion.


Still, at least now they have learned the lesson as the appointment of the new guy is a man is equally nothing to do with golf but was second in command at the highly successful Scottish Football Association who we all know have been one of the leading lights of international football (read into that 'rat jumping off a sinking ship).


I have attended three meetings/conferences to do with the game of golf in Scotland in the last 3 months. One was the PGA's Scottish section annual meeting where the new main man at the PGA laid out the vision of where the organisation was going. It clearly showed an ability to understand what the organisation was about, what it had to offer and where it could use its abilities to better the game for its members and the game as a whole.


The BIGGA conference in Perth where the main man from the R&A spoke about the challenges facing the game and the plans the R&A had to tackle it which were well thought out and seemed to be possible to implement.


Finally, the emergency meeting called by Scottish Golf before Christmas in which we were given a load of stats about the state of the game, no vision for any future direction (or desire to think about one) and were basically told to think about paying more once again.


The entire board of Scottish Golf need to GO. They have failed entirely. It is a sad time in the golfing world in Scotland but what the golf clubs in Scotland really need is an organisation who looks after the needs of the member clubs and not a bunch of national tournament organisers who treat the membership with contempt.


I know it is a bit of a rant but it is so vexing to watch such an important golfing body act not just in a totally clueless way but even when they admit they have failed basically stick two fingers up at the membership and just carry on in the same fashion.




Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Michael Whitaker on March 13, 2018, 11:03:18 AM
Sell the game on the basis that a 4 hour walk burns 1000 calories, equal to an hour in the gym and you can play a round of golf for the next 40 years and you are likely to live 5 years longer based on the muscle usage, exercise, positive mental aspects of competition.”


Adrian - I have wondered for some time why golf is not promoted as excellent exercise to recruit new players, especially in Scotland. In the States golf is mostly thought of as a riding game, so it would take a big effort to swing the perception of the game away from a lazy man’s pastime, but it can be done.


Most of the guys I play with are seniors and dedicated walkers who play golf for exercise as much as anything. As you say, our games have gone downhill, but we enjoy the fellowship, fresh air and five mile walk. Young people could be attracted to the game, I think, if it were promoted as  fun way to get a physical workout.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on November 29, 2018, 06:09:40 PM
https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/scottish-golf-aims-to-boost-clubs-with-new-tee-booking-system-1-4836922



Scottish Golf aims to boost clubs with new tee booking system
MARTIN DEMPSTER
Thursday 29 November 2018


Chief executive Andrew McKinlay is looking for a “game-changer that could potentially bring in millions” for Scottish Golf. He’s hoping he has found it with an App that aims to see golf clubs getting 100 per cent of green fees from a huge nomadic golfing population in the sport’s cradle.


Set to be McKinlay’s trump card at the second Scottish Golf national conference in Edinburgh on Saturday, the new App is linked to a free suite of software that the 
governing body is offering to its member clubs, many of which are facing a battle for survival. The main aim of the Scottish Golf App will be to get the so-called nomads – a group that currently makes up around 
80 per cent of Scotland’s total golfing population – to book their pay-and-play rounds directly with the clubs rather than going through an outside booking website.


The company delivering the App already works with more than 20 tours around the world and both McKinlay and Iain Forsyth, a golf industry expert who is now helping Scottish Golf explore commercial opportunities, are confident it will prove money well spent by the governing body as it bids to step up its support for clubs.


“The return on investment [part of the cost is being funded by a £3.25 increase in the affiliation fee paid by club members] is potentially huge, both in what clubs can save by not paying for systems they currently use but also in relation to income from pay-per-play golfers,” said McKinlay.


“This new system will connect all those who play the game in Scotland. We have a situation at the moment where circa 21 per cent of golfers are members and they are paying most of the upkeep of courses in Scotland. You have another 80 per cent, who are paying some by paying green fees, but this system will look at ways of bringing them into the fold and we are really excited about that.


“People sometimes think there’s a lot of talk from Scottish Golf but they don’t actually do anything. We had a presentation about a mock up of this last year. Twelve months on we have an actual App and it’s a really impressive piece of kit.


“We are looking to start testing after Saturday. We know clubs are interested. Some are contracted in with other parties, but others want to get right in and involved in the new year.”


According to Forsyth, the Scottish Golf App, which is a trail-blazer among the four Home Unions, will be more user-friendly than some of the current tee-time booking systems. “We are going to offer every club a level-playing field of good quality, state of the art software,” he said. “Where did we take our cue from? Well, forget golf. If you are banking, booking a flight etc, what is now acceptable?


“The techie guys are all into how many clicks does a consumer make before they go away. As an example, we tried to get on to a well-known golf course in Scotland and we were 17 clicks in before we got to pay. We are going to be three or four by the time you pay.


“We want to enable clubs to make it easier and make the experience for the golfer
smooth and relative to the world they live in. Right now, people have to bend over backwards and put up with stuff because it’s golf. We want to get away from that. We want to speak to 100 per cent of golfers, not 20 per cent.


“Generally speaking, there are tee-time bookings out there on various platforms and clubs have to barter away to get that if they can’t afford it. We take that away. We’ll be part of the barter system. [With the new App], the clubs get 100 per cent of the fee paid by the pay-and-play golfer and they’ll also get a free website.”


McKinlay, who attended the inaugural conference 12 months ago as a club member, said he is going into this one with “genuine positivity”. His rallying cry to the 500 delegates heading to the EICC? “Let’s get together. We are in the home of golf, we have an amazing product, so let’s shout about it positively for a change,” he declared.


“We got the affiliation fee through in October and I say, ‘yes it’s important to get the money’ but to get a 60 per cent vote said to me that there is a feeling that we are starting to go in a different direction. I hope we feel that in the hall on Saturday. I’m not expecting all 500-odd people to have banners and make it like a Trump rally. There will be naysayers there, but it’s our job to persuade them and get them on the positive side.”
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Marty Bonnar on November 29, 2018, 08:30:48 PM
These people are being paid professional salaries for this idiocy is beyond belief.
F.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on November 30, 2018, 02:09:18 AM

I know Marty. It is just unbelievable.


However, finally those charged with looking after their member clubs are finally going to do something positive for their members instead of big competitions and expensive blazers. It is 10 years late and I fail to see any ambition in trying to convert nomadic golfers into club members but you can't expect too much I suppose.


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on November 30, 2018, 02:28:59 AM
On my recent non-golfing trip to St Andrews we took a taxi from Leuchers Station into the town. Our driver was a keen golfer and waxed lyrically about the various courses.


More interesting however, was his sadness that young people in St Andrews are just not interested in golf any more. Even though they can play for next to nothing, participation among locals has apparently declined precipitously.


If St Andrews is struggling to get people into golf, what chance does anyone else have?  Or is it just that the perennial sight of fat middle-aged American tourists in unpleasant trousers detracts irretrievably from any coolness the game might once have had?

 ;D
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Michael Graham on November 30, 2018, 03:02:19 AM
On my recent non-golfing trip to St Andrews we took a taxi from Leuchers Station into the town. Our driver was a keen golfer and waxed lyrically about the various courses.


More interesting however, was his sadness that young people in St Andrews are just not interested in golf any more. Even though they can play for next to nothing, participation among locals has apparently declined precipitously.


If St Andrews is struggling to get people into golf, what chance does anyone else have?  Or is it just that the perennial sight of fat middle-aged American tourists in unpleasant trousers detracts irretrievably from any coolness the game might once have had?

 ;D


Or is it just that the perennial sight of fat middle-aged American tourists in unpleasant trousers detracts irretrievably from any coolness the game might once have had?

Really? Come on Duncan, no need for that for that sort of comment.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on November 30, 2018, 04:47:30 AM
On my recent non-golfing trip to St Andrews we took a taxi from Leuchers Station into the town. Our driver was a keen golfer and waxed lyrically about the various courses.


More interesting however, was his sadness that young people in St Andrews are just not interested in golf any more. Even though they can play for next to nothing, participation among locals has apparently declined precipitously.


If St Andrews is struggling to get people into golf, what chance does anyone else have?  Or is it just that the perennial sight of fat middle-aged American tourists in unpleasant trousers detracts irretrievably from any coolness the game might once have had?

 ;D


Or is it just that the perennial sight of fat middle-aged American tourists in unpleasant trousers detracts irretrievably from any coolness the game might once have had?

Really? Come on Duncan, no need for that for that sort of comment.
Duncan's comment may have been over the line but there's a hint of truth in it.  St Andrews now reeks of a lot of what is worst about golf.  Hugely expensive equipment and clothing and tiers of privilege, much of it now bought by money.  In the 25 years since I first visited as a golfer it has changed, and not for the better.


I can see why kids growing up in St Andrews may not see golf as an attractive way to spend time if what they see on the streets is what they think golf means.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Chaplin on November 30, 2018, 05:08:32 AM
I guess the hordes of kids having free group lessons on the range and playing  the Balgove in the holidays don’t count. Wee Wonders and the junior opens appeared to be full as well.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on November 30, 2018, 05:44:45 AM

Or is it just that the perennial sight of fat middle-aged American tourists in unpleasant trousers detracts irretrievably from any coolness the game might once have had?

Really? Come on Duncan, no need for that for that sort of comment.


Many years ago I attended a wedding reception in Russucks Hotel. A group had gathered at a window and were playing a game amongst themselves. The game? Spot the nationality playing TOC.
Modest colours, black/brown shoes, carrying their own smallish bags? Scots and British apparently.
Loud colours and voices, white/multicoloured shoes, cameras, wide of girth, huge golf bags, caddies, cigars? ........
Just a recollection.
Atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Michael Graham on November 30, 2018, 09:45:36 AM
We’re better than lazy, sweeping generalisations.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jeff Schley on November 30, 2018, 09:56:51 AM

If St Andrews is struggling to get people into golf, what chance does anyone else have?  Or is it just that the perennial sight of fat middle-aged American tourists in unpleasant trousers detracts irretrievably from any coolness the game might once have had?

 ;D
Wow. :o .....as tongue in cheek as this might have been intended some things are better left unsaid.  It is a public course even for yanks and the UK does allow Americans visa free entry last I checked. 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on November 30, 2018, 10:11:22 AM

The main aim of the Scottish Golf App will be to get the so-called nomads – a group that currently makes up around 
80 per cent of Scotland’s total golfing population – to book their pay-and-play rounds directly with the clubs rather than going through an outside booking website.


Surely the main aim, as discussed at length elsewhere on here, is to entice these nomads to become club members somewhere. Surely this is having the opposite effect.

Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Rich Goodale on November 30, 2018, 10:36:03 AM

The main aim of the Scottish Golf App will be to get the so-called nomads – a group that currently makes up around 
80 per cent of Scotland’s total golfing population – to book their pay-and-play rounds directly with the clubs rather than going through an outside booking website.


Surely the main aim, as discussed at length elsewhere on here, is to entice these nomads to become club members somewhere. Surely this is having the opposite effect.

Niall


Sorry, Niall, but the "club members" in Scotland have left the building (along with Elvis) a long time ago (except for a very small and diminishing number of the old farts' watering holes)....
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on November 30, 2018, 10:44:47 AM
Rich

Clearly that's not the case or there wouldn't be any clubs left. At the last count there was only a very small percentage that had ceased to be, and even there they still had a core that wanted to be members but couldn't continue due to economics.

Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Rich Goodale on November 30, 2018, 10:57:03 AM
You misinterpret what I am trying to say, Niall.


All decent and reasonably solvent clubs have "transitory members," "club members," and "the oldest member(s)" as per PG Wodehouse.  My experience is that most of the solvent clubs in Scotland exist due to praying for the manna given to them annually by the transitory members.  This is not a model for long term success, IMHO.


Rich
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Chaplin on November 30, 2018, 11:33:48 AM
The simple issue in Scotland is golf is too cheap, clubs struggle to stay solvent charging £400-£700 a year membership and only a small percentage get the high end visitor golf.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Rich Goodale on November 30, 2018, 12:11:20 PM
The simple issue in Scotland is golf is too cheap, clubs struggle to stay solvent charging £400-£700 a year membership and only a small percentage get the high end visitor golf.


Not exactly, Mark.


600 members*600 squid a year=360,000/year.  Add 50-100K for visitors gives you enough to hire a pro (@20k squid plus merchandising and lessons), pay for the clubhouse by renting the food and beverage to an outsider, pay a greenskeeper and a few assistants and a couple of admins and Bob's Your Uncle!  Most courses own or pay peppercorn rents for the land, even though the grounds are worth huge amounts for residential development (vis Mike Nuzzos piece re St. Andrews in one of Paul Daley's books).


The tough bit is that the local market doesn't want to pay 600 squid/year, particularly given the fact that nearby course/clubs are offering 1/2 or less for a year's play.  It's a path to the bottom.


It's already happening in the USA and China and England.  I doubt that RCPD will be affected, at least for now, but if you are a "member" of an average club and course in SE England, beware!


Rich
D
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on November 30, 2018, 03:00:35 PM
The simple issue in Scotland is golf is too cheap, clubs struggle to stay solvent charging £400-£700 a year membership and only a small percentage get the high end visitor golf.



Mark,


There is room in the game of golf for the basic take it as it is cheaper operations right the way through to the ultra exclusive only for the well heeled clubs.


Golf is struggling in the UK generally because the home unions took their eye of the ball and forgot to do what was right by their membership.


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on November 30, 2018, 09:46:04 PM
I find it incredible that anyone could blame a golf organisation for the downturn in membership...its nonsense. By the same token its nonsense to expect a golf organisation to "solve" a golf membership problem for a country. That's akin to believing a government can right an economy. Its pass the buck talk that will solve very little.


Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on December 01, 2018, 12:05:35 AM



Golf is struggling in the UK generally because the home unions took their eye of the ball and forgot to do what was right by their membership.


Jon


The home unions are an irrelevance to most golfers. They are not important enough to have the influence that you assign to them.


Golf is struggling in the UK for a myriad of reasons, many of which are frequently discussed here. That there are too many golf courses is probably the biggest one.


The home unions basically run the structure of the game and handicaps. Their initiatives such as "Get into Golf" seem entirely positive, even though the results are probably questionable.


I'm not sure how much further their influence extends, or indeed should extend.


 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on December 01, 2018, 03:39:58 AM
I find it incredible that anyone could blame a golf organisation for the downturn in membership...its nonsense. By the same token its nonsense to expect a golf organisation to "solve" a golf membership problem for a country. That's akin to believing a government can right an economy. Its pass the buck talk that will solve very little.


Ciao



Sean,



A union is there to look after the best interests of it members and with those members being the clubs then the clubs. They should have been at the forefront of online booking systems and possible county club memberships. Scotland is now looking at the former but it is about 15 years too late. However, the unions have spent most of the last 30 years doing is organising big amateur competitions, wearing expensive blazers and slapping each other on the back saying what a great job they are doing.


A government's responsibility is to look after the best interests of its citizens.


Duncan,


your first line says it all in relation to why the home unions have failed miserably in their responsibilities.


Okay, define the 'structure of the game' as you see it.


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on December 01, 2018, 06:03:47 AM
Jon

There is a world of difference between SG not doing a great job in supporting the member clubs and SG being the reason for membership decline in Scotland. 

BTW..I don't believe a countrywide booking system will do any good and it may do harm. Exactly how is this meant to recruit club members?

Ciao 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on December 01, 2018, 07:48:46 AM
Sean

I agree that the SGU doesn't have the powers to exert absolute control over whether clubs prosper or fail. However that was not my point. The vast majority of clubs survive on their membership income. That is the core of their "business model" if you want to call it that. In "business" terms they are repeat customers. Those are the "customers" you want to look after, instead of pandering to "dis-loyal customers" who provide the marginal income. Acting in this way is the same as big utility companies who treat long standing customers as mugs. The SGU are simply encouraging that. That may not lead to clubs failing but it certainly undermines them.

Of course, it could be argued that the SGU is their to look after individual golfers rather than clubs (I'm not familiar with their constitution) although I'd argue that most (SGU fee-paying) golfers are members of clubs therefore that's how you should be helping them, by helping the clubs.

Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on December 01, 2018, 07:52:36 AM
The simple issue in Scotland is golf is too cheap, clubs struggle to stay solvent charging £400-£700 a year membership and only a small percentage get the high end visitor golf.

Mark

Golf is only too cheap if clubs can't live within their means. Most in the bracket you refer to don't get any high-end visitors but may get some more local visitors but the bulk of their income is from members subs. They make it work, and have done for many decades, because they don't incur the over heads that a Glasgow GC or a RCP do.

Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on December 01, 2018, 08:04:54 AM
Niall

Sure...I think we agree...which is why I question a country wide booking system.  Other than for clubs which have no online booking system (which SG could probably do better by subsidizing clubs separately), how does this help recruit members?   It seems to me that it plays into the hands of itinerant golfers more than helping to build memberships.  Time will tell, but I don't believe for a minute there is any countrywide solution for all individual clubs to survive. The bottom line remains that there is the same number of people in Scotland than was the case 40 years ago and that is due to immigration...much of which is from non-golf rich nations.  Yet there are more courses and more courses designed to grab the attention of travelling golfers. Then pile on the poor economic downturn and it becomes clear that SG had zero control of the issue.  Its just too easy grab the ow hanging fruit without much thought given to underlying factors. 


I wonder how many children of the past few generations of club members no longer live in Scotland. 

Ciao   
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on December 01, 2018, 08:22:54 AM
The county unions and England Golf are often run by people whose heads are pickled with nonsense.


Many have no idea what is going wrong with game and many of their ideas have had a negative impact on the game because of their make up they are sloth-like in dealing with problems. THEY HAVE ALLOWED THE GAME TO BE MESSED UP.


How England Golf can support the Play more golf scheme is beyond belief.


How England Golf can think the handicap system is better is once again.... Measuring devices, the golf ball...zzzzz


That aside, their errors are only the tip of iceberg. The game now takes too long too play and that has the biggest impact into, (certainly a) UK world where it takes longer to travel from A to B. TV and the internet have played a big role too, there is a lot more home entertainment which all eat into the segment of peoples available time. Other sports have become more popular, if Chelsea were playing Tottenham on a Saturday mid-day the impact on the tee sheet is significant.


A game of golf needs to get back to near 3 hours ...the walking bit is only about 1 hour... there are some good rule changes coming in 2019 though I still maintain NO LINE MARKING ON A GOLF BALL and MARK IT ONCE ON THE GREEN, that zips 30 minutes off a round straight away.


Watching pro golf on TV is boring and so gives little inspiration to possible (young) golfers. many clubs just repeat the same drill, you need fun competitions occasionally that make people smile.. A MIX UP where you choose  6 red tees 6 yellows and 6 whites and plot your own strategy. Have a hole you can halve your score! BLUESOMES like greensomes but you chose alternate play from the 3rd shot.SUPER-SIXES where you play in a group of 4 and have 3 6 hole match play going on...theres loads.


Finacially its all cut throat with ponce schemes and low price offers...HAPPY HOURS..HALF PRICE TUESDAYS don't work..the formula is simple 2 for the price of 2.

What do we have left? Selling the health benifits of walking 4 or 5 miles once a week and you live 5 years longer.


One thing where Scotland has suffered over England is the stricter drink driving law there. You won't get people taking on a clubhouse, doing the catering and bar - dawn to dusk without a subsidy and in a world where the price of food has been driven down to 6 or 7 pounds there is zero profit in a £6 meal after the goverment ponce the first £ in vat....


I agree with Mark Chaplin you cant do much for sub £700 and that again is more of a Scottish problem than elsewhere.


RANT OVER to be continued.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on December 01, 2018, 08:45:26 AM
Some nails hit squarely on the head in Adrian’s post above. I look forward to reading part II!
Atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Keith Phillips on December 01, 2018, 09:13:03 AM

A government's responsibility is to look after the best interests of its citizens.

Jon


Perhaps that is the expectation in Scotland.  In America it is (was?) the citizen's job to look after his or her own interests, at least in the first instance.  The idea that a golf club should be relying on a governing body to drive its fortunes is mad.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: David McIntosh on December 01, 2018, 09:46:53 AM
I wonder what kind of reception this new tee booking system is going to get at the conference today as the delegates will presumably all be existing club members and this new development is clearly aimed at those who aren’t members.

Niall’s comparison to the big energy companies is very apt and I just struggle to buy that a “system that connects all that play golf in Scotland” (does it really? And even if it does, so what?) is going to be a “game-changer” or “trump card” for ailing clubs.

Sure, it will be better for clubs if people use this rather than going through outside booking sites but it is the norm rather than the exception for golf clubs to have booking systems on their own websites nowadays and the only upside, if applicable, would be that clubs currently paying a fee for this service or paying a proportion of takings to the system operators will no longer have to do so going forward. I have no idea how significant a fee is taken by the operators in these situations but the language being used by SG in terms of the expected benefits seems way over the top, particularly when the majority of the nomadic golfing population will continue to book on GolfNow for a 50p saving on the green fee!
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on December 01, 2018, 09:50:00 AM
I think Adrian hits on the points that are actually causing the most disruption to golf, and everyone is driving themselves mad because its completely out of thier control.  Its the number of relatively new ways one can spend free time.  Between Internet and Apps, Online gaming, hundreds of channels on the tele, 24 hour sports coverage, etc....there are far far more distractions than there were just 30 years ago.  We had none of that when I was a kid and guess what, we spent our time actively looking for interesting things to pass the time.  Now you have to pick and choose and schedule how you will spend your free time and forgo lots you would be interested in otherwise...


P.S.  Good government should be like a good Manager...they should facilitate, be a remover of blockers, communicate well with other groups, and create an environment that benefits their people.  Its not really up to government to be creators as such, its about building a balanced framework that both provides opportunities and protections to its people.



Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on December 01, 2018, 01:00:03 PM
The biggest issue facing golf clubs is declining membership, and that is driven largely by two factors; less people playing golf overall, and cheap green fees making the commitment of club membership a less attractive proposition.


Clubs cannot do very much about the former, but potentially can about the latter if they work together.


This is where the national and county unions can come in. Encouraging clubs in any particular area to maintain viable green fees and not to compete agressively with each other would benefit all clubs and the game as a whole.


Yet insead they are talking about cutting GolfNow out of the equation but offering the same kind of ruinous service.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on December 01, 2018, 02:21:25 PM
The biggest issue facing golf clubs is declining membership, and that is driven largely by two factors; less people playing golf overall, and cheap green fees making the commitment of club membership a less attractive proposition.


Clubs cannot do very much about the former, but potentially can about the latter if they work together.


This is where the national and county unions can come in. Encouraging clubs in any particular area to maintain viable green fees and not to compete agressively with each other would benefit all clubs and the game as a whole.


Yet insead they are talking about cutting GolfNow out of the equation but offering the same kind of ruinous service.
I can see some merit in a National booking system from the point of view that you don't pay teeofftimes or golfnow the 20% TAX!!! so clubs would have more/all the money but it is still the anti of 'promoting golf membership' as clubs sadly would just undercut each other. It is still providing that VILE go compare situation and mostly the visitors of those sites choose LOWEST PRICE.


A lot of people still don't GET the principle of never selling a green fee less than 1/30th of the annual membership and they GET the idea that once a tee time is lost ITS LOST SO FILL IT FOR A FIVER.


All any club really needs is a decent course, >>> good website (shop window) >>>online tee times booking system (they cost about £1000 per year)...people either pay your rate or they don't, if your not doing any business then you probably are overpriced, if your getting loads of business you might need to put your rates up, couple of tee times filled each day at £216 each time makes a lot of difference....you gotta get really zippy doing golf at £10 a round.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Lou_Duran on December 01, 2018, 02:49:25 PM
Or is it just that the perennial sight of fat middle-aged American tourists in unpleasant trousers detracts irretrievably from any coolness the game might once have had?

 ;D


Well, at first I thought that I resemble that.  But then I realized that Duncan was alluding to a different demographic, one as much as one generation younger.  BTW, I suspect no offense was intended, and none was taken.  BTW2, to those cool youngsters, I can always change pants.  What are you going to do when you tire of your multi-colored tattoos covering a large percentage of your body?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Lou_Duran on December 01, 2018, 03:18:47 PM
The simple issue in Scotland is golf is too cheap, clubs struggle to stay solvent charging £400-£700 a year membership and only a small percentage get the high end visitor golf.


Adam Smith, if he followed this DG, would be rolling in his grave.  Reminds me of the arguments for increasing the minimum wage in America.  If going from $7.25/hr to $15 is such a good thing, imagine how much better it would be if it was raised to $30.  Someone tell Golspie and Brora to double or triple their subscriptions and see what happens.


I think Niall has hit the bullseye.  Golf is in trouble in areas where not enough folks have sufficient disposable income.  Fix the economy and much of the rest will take care of itself.  As long we demand that our politicians disregard the laws of supply and demand we will have much more to worry about than the decline of our golf culture.


In the meantime, I will consult the hip websites and assemble a less objectionable wardrobe prior to future visits.  Can't do anything about my age, and no promises on my weight, but hopefully I will have enough sterling to make the crossing.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on December 01, 2018, 03:26:22 PM
Lou,

Not sure how to compute that last statement.

In the first paragraph, you complain about raising the minimum wage and then in the next say golf is struggling in areas where people don't have disposable income.  How is continuing to pay people crap wages supposed to help here?

P.S.  You try living on $7.25 per hour, that not even a living wage for the basics, much less golf...
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Lou_Duran on December 01, 2018, 06:16:31 PM
Context, Kalen.


A seller of labor just like one of golf rounds should be able to price his product at a level he deems appropriate.  Only he can determine whether it is worth his while to produce at the prevailing rates.  I can't think of a worse way of setting prices than having the government doing it (reference the worse aspects of our health care system).


It doesn't take a rocket science to understand that if an employee costs me $15/hour but delivers only $7.50 of production I can't just double my volume and break even.  Is it better for him to accept $7.25 while he looks for a $15 job, or should that choice be taken away by social justice warriors who never face those dilemmas?


If a private club's prices are too low to generate sufficient revenues to at least cover costs, in the long run, it will have to close.  As you know, there are many courses today selling for cents on the dollar, and some, even with a much more attractive cost structure can't make a go of it.


The problem, from my perspective, is not that golf prices are too low, but that there is not enough demand to support the cost structure of many clubs.   I don't think that golf has lost its interest- the tours and high level amateur golf have never done better.  Declining disposable income and financial insecurity, real or imagined, of Boomers is a big part of the problem.


Over time, the supply will decrease, and perhaps there will be enough demand to support healthier golf economics.  I happen to believe that areas which are moderate with taxes and regulations do better in creating wealth and a wider distribution of income, both which are necessary for golf to do well.


     



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Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on December 01, 2018, 08:28:30 PM
Sweet Lou

Times are already hard on folks struggling to get by.  Lets hope the likes of you never get in power to reinstitute a wage is which not even close to the poverty line.  Its December, try to have a little more heart  8) Regardless, I don't think it is a disposable income issue.  If it is, there is nothing nobody can do to solve the problem because golf membership isn't going to get any cheaper and I seriously doubt the average wage will rise anywhere quick enough to resolve the issue.  Nope, there are enough people with money to support clubs even with the current over-supply...they choose not to as in other entertainmnet alternatives are more important to them.  I disagree with you...the interest is not high enough (for the many reasons stated again and again) to support the over-supply.

I have said before...I don't think there is a crisis..its economic adjustment we are seeing after build excess.

Finally...if golf doesn't get women on board and damn soon...its all talk.

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on December 01, 2018, 08:39:43 PM
https://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/17269972.paul-lawrie-welcomes-scottish-golfs-app-ier-digital-future-at-national-conference/



Paul Lawrie welcomes Scottish Golf's App-ier digital future at national conference
By Nick Rodger
Golf Correspondent


Having forged a glory-laden, money-spinning playing career, while enjoying a variety of lucrative sidelines as one of Scottish golf’s great ambassadors, most folk assume that Paul Lawrie has the kind of golden touch that would make Midas look like a pauper.


In this business, though, not everything is an overflowing cash cow. At yesterday’s Scottish Golf national conference in Edinburgh, the 1999 Open champion unveiled the challenges his own golf centre in Aberdeen faces. He also gave a ringing endorsement of the governing body’s plan to roll out a new and free digital platform and App to help clubs fully exploit income from pay-as-you-go golfers in an age when only 21 per cent of those playing the game in its birthplace are actual members of clubs.


“The golf industry has not gone through the best of times and hasn't done for a long, long time and our facility currently runs at a slight loss every year,” he said. “If people who are not members of a club are able to have a handicap, and that then meant a club like ours was able to lay on a competition that would see 40 or 50 new golfers paying a green fee every week, then that could be the difference. That would be a lot of money for a golf club like our one that loses money.


"I had a wee look at the App and it is just phenomenal. For a golf centre like us it will be great to have this free App. Who's not wanting to want that as a golf club? We will certainly be using it and we will be embracing it to try and turn a corner for us. I think it will."


The company behind the technology, OCS, have an impressive, global pedigree and its representatives confidently declared that “we guarantee revenue.”


The nomadic golfing market is huge and the main aim of the App is to get that group to book their rounds directly with the clubs rather than an outside website. Those clubs will retain every penny of the green fee.


“I’d hope that people like that might play a course a few times and say ‘you know what, I might want to be a member here?’,” said Scottish Golf chief executive, Andrew McKinlay. “It will give clubs an opportunity to get them in as members. But even if they don’t, it’s still a great revenue generator.”


Yesterday’s gathering, which was attended by around 450 folk of various golfing walks of life, was a largely upbeat and wide-ranging forum which promoted innovation and fresh thinking while attempting to address long-standing issues which continue to make for grim reading. The well-documented statistic, for instance, that only 13 per cent of Scotland’s membership is female remains something of a plook on the game’s complexion. “It’s not good enough,” said McKinlay bluntly.


In addition, around 83 per cent of clubs still have their main men’s competition reserved for a Saturday which alienates the working woman. “Women don’t have equal opportunities,” added Ross Duncan, Scottish Golf’s development director. “Change requires a significant shift in attitude.”
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: John Kavanaugh on December 01, 2018, 09:08:02 PM
Maybe that "model" that you guys always bragged about failed. It's not so hard to understand why you can't have a private course open to the public. Too bad, it always sounded so nice for the hit and runners.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Chaplin on December 02, 2018, 03:41:01 AM
Lou I’m not a member of Brora or Tain so don’t know the numbers but they are 100% on the visitor trail and I’m guess a considerable percentage of their income comes from visitor golf. I know American members of both and certainly don’t know any at Tarland where the greenkeeper’s budget - there’s only one greenkeeper - appeared reasonable until you realised that included his wages.


Jon - it’s low end member clubs struggling the most, there’s nothing left to cut and little prospect of increasing member numbers.


Of course I’m fortunate, I belong to three clubs with courses and two in St. Andrews without. The English clubs are doing very well and only one having a hard time is my US club and that’s down to local demographics, property taxes  and falling membership.


John Kavanaugh your lack of understanding of British club golf is at best embarrassing.

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on December 02, 2018, 11:37:33 AM
Lou,

Its a simple question really, how much is enough?  i know we'll never agree on this issue but there are plenty of examples of "responsible" owners who resisted insane greed so others can share in the spoils.

Go look up the Costco business model and its history.  Look how well they takes care of thier employees thru pay, health care benefits, promotions, etc... while remaining extremely successful and competitive in their market niche. It doesn't have to be a small amount of people winning insanely... at the expense of everyone else.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Lou_Duran on December 03, 2018, 06:32:55 PM
Ok, Kalen says I support greed.  Sean reminds me of Christian charity and tells me to grow a heart.  All because I tried to respond to Mark Chapin's comment that golf in Scotland is sinking because it is too cheap by suggesting that we might look a little bit deeper.  I guess I am either a small person or can't write worth a lick.


I will spare the good folks here with a very elementary economics lesson that even the reddest communists in the old Soviet Union discovered quite early- prices cannot be set by fiat.  Yes, green fees/subscriptions/annual dues at many courses not just in Scotland are too low to sustain the business as a going concern.  Too many unsold tee times/excess capacity (too many courses) at even these unsustainable prices point to a demand problem.


Another writer in this thread suggests a top-down minimum green fee/subscription/annual dues solution.  Of course, this would be highly illegal under most countries' anti-trust laws.  And along with Mark's comment, it brought to mind the futility of government mandated minimum wage laws, as such price setting doesn't address the demand problem, only exacerbates it by pricing people out of the golf and labor markets.


Again, I pose the question, if a minimum wage of $15/hour is so great, why not make it $30, $50, $100?  If a golf course in Scotland has a half-empty tee sheet at £20, how will its revenue line be improved at £40?


I can certainly understand the owner of a course trying various pricing schemes to improve his operations, or the owner of a McDonald's paying $15/hour to see if he can attract better quality employees who might improve the bottom line.  Not so much for a golf federation with powers to compel or a government from requiring the same.  It is easy, however, to see how those mandated minimums would benefit golf courses and McDonald franchises operating in stronger markets by ridding them of pesky competitors who can't survive under those requirements (an important reason why labor unions most often support minimum wage laws even though their members already enjoy much higher negotiated wages).


For the record, I am a Costco member and shop there a couple of times each month.  I am also a Sam's Club member and shop there occasionally.  My buying decisions are based largely on need, convenience, availability of specific products, price, and to a much lesser extent, customer service.  While I appreciate Costco's business plan vis-a-vis its ER, it is not a deciding factor in which chain I support on a given day.  I don't see Walmart's approach as greedy at all, and to the extent that its employees are not captive, it takes some mental gymnastics to come to the conclusion that they are being exploited or treated at their expense.


Want to improve golf participation and # of rounds played?  Let people who are normally drawn to the game keep more of their hard-earned money.  If women and other lowly represented groups can be enticed to play, all the better.  Escapegoating and insulting those who pay the vast majority of taxes with accusations of greed probably won't get the job done.  And if you think that a golf federation or a government can compel prosperity by repealing the laws of supply and demand, you may wish to study any number of countries who have tried it in the past century.  Not too good a story for golf.


Peace!  :-* [size=78%]           [/size]


 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Rich Goodale on December 03, 2018, 07:17:12 PM
Bingo, Lou.


Let me know when you cross the pond again, and have a great holiday season (and that applies to all you fellow wing-nuts out there).


Rich
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ryan Coles on December 03, 2018, 09:46:12 PM
Lou


Your guy Adam Smith was with you on the minimum wage. But are you with him on his views on a Land Tax. In golfing terms, the latter would seem more harmful than the former for the Club owner?


Re impact of minimum wage, I’m no economist, but in this Country, scarcity of affordable homes meant that the Govt were effectively subsidising poverty pay in the form of housing benefit and despite squeezing business for £8 an hour, still are. You may well argue and I may well agree that the planning system is suppressing the building of more homes...


Should the Govt be paying someone’s rent to someone who owns hundreds of properties all the while that person is paid a pittance by a global multinational company not paying anything like the going rate of tax?


The minimum wage came here much later than the US amidst much hand wringing that it would kill jobs. But whether by coincidence or not, Unemployment actually fell and for the first time in a long time, the poor were better off financially working than they were on welfare.


If you can’t afford to pay your staff £8 an hour, do you have a viable business anyway? Or more likely if you have an endless supply of cheap migrant labour, do you care?


In golf terms the minimum wage has probably hit Clubs quite hard. Though you’ll never hear me begrudging staff £8 an hour. What it has probably done is suppress the wages of those on £9 to £12 such as greenstaff as Clubs rob Peter to Pay Paul.


I actually think Clubs in the UK will start struggling to recruit and retain green staff below deputy level. Those with a bit about them already do bits and pieces on the side and many have left the golf industry and made a go out of landscaping and gardening instead. I guess the wealthy are paying them direct, rather than through their golf...


As to why the government don’t triple the Minimum wage it’s because they are merely tinkering. They want to redistribute wealth but they know if they tip things too far it stifles the wealth they have to redistribute.


Us lefty Europeans look at levels of poverty amongst your bottom
Percentile and compare it to the lot at our bottom percentile and we aren’t queuing up to sign up for it, despite knowing that your model is better for the other 95% and indeed golf.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on December 04, 2018, 07:55:20 AM
Are we still debating the demise of Scottish golf ?  ;D

If we are let me make a couple of observations;

The gist of this thread is that golf in Scotland is in decline and the barometer they seem to be using to back up that assertion is that clubs in Scotland are struggling. The body making this claim is the Scottish Golf Union which is also struggling, both in terms of credibility and funding.

Their solution to this perceived decline in golf is to make it easier for non-members to book courses. They also haven’t given up solving their own funding issues by doubling the levy on members who in the main comprise ordinary club golfers. That will help pay for the new booking system.

So to recap, they are asking clubs (as proxy to members ?) to vote for their own demise. I’m sure there is a saying about Christmas and turkey’s.

Niall

Ps. I might add that the individual within the SGU promoting this runs a technology and internet business. 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ryan Coles on December 04, 2018, 09:12:18 AM
Niall


All home Unions like to build empires for themselves. Decline in Memberships means decline in their funding and their empires and beurocracies get cut.


They are chasing revenue from nomadic golfers and encouraging clubs into suicide schemes so they can extract their affiliation fee.


I’ve said for a while a fairer way for governing bodies to be funded is on percentage on turnover or rateable value of the Club. Otherwise huge swathes of the Sports participants pay nothing back to the National Union. 


Also, The affiliation fee per member is the same whether you’re at Sunningdale or Shitsville.


England Golf after their ruinous purchase and set up at Woodhall Spa are  working with and appointing a local person to work with and liaise with Local Clubs. This is a positive step and our County Support Officer is excellent. But they undermine this positive restructure by targeting the Support Officers and coercing things like Play More Golf onto the vulnerable and gullible.


All this said, I agree with Sean that they didn’t get Clubs into the mess and they won’t get Clubs out. They can help and they can annoy but ultimately bigger issues are the cause of the malaise. 

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on December 04, 2018, 10:41:54 AM
Lou,

You are not a poor writer, not even close.  I have read what you have written and disagree with it, simple as that.  But then again this isn't my first rodeo on this topic. Between an Econ minor in college and countless discussions on the topic I think I have a pretty good grasp of at least the basics..

If you are greedy and support unfettered wealth accumulation then fine, just own it.. we're all infected with it to a certain extent.  ;)
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on December 04, 2018, 11:42:58 AM
The high level golf bodies shouldn’t be let off the hook too lightly. There is a trickle down effect within the game.
Did not golf bodies in the UK, one in particular, in many ways encourage the over-supply golf-slump of the moment by advocating in the 1990’s that we needed loads and loads more courses?
Also, has not the reluctance of the golf bodies over many decades to roll-back the distance element within the game and reduce the time it takes to play the game enhanced the ‘golf takes too long to play’ issue?
And is not the desire of the golf bodies to manicure (over-maintain) courses where they play their premium events responsible for clubs spending more and more money to copy that level of presentation on a day-to-day basis?
I’m sure there are other examples.
Atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on December 04, 2018, 12:55:10 PM
Ryan

Not just golf unions but all sorts of representative organisations. For instance the professional body for my profession and that I’m a member of, used to be about serving the individual members. In the last 15 to 20 years they have gone from being predominantly UK to having a global reach. Where they used to be there to serve the member, you often feel you’re there to serve them with no accountability. The last Chief Exec of the organisation was paid something like 5 or 6 times that of average wage of the members. It all smacks of tail wagging the dog.

So I very much agree about empire building but that is what happens when you have professional administrators.

I also agree that perhaps some are overstating the golf unions powers but there is no doubt they can have a strong influence in the direction of travel for a lot of golf clubs. In this instance I tend to think it would be better if they did nothing. As you allude to, the wider economy has a big bearing as does a lot of decisions made in the good times that some clubs are probably regretting now. However with some on the precipice they could probably do without the SGU advising them to jump off the edge.

Where I differ with you is the differential rates for different members. That then gives someone at a big expensive club a greater say than someone at a cheaper club. Of course it won’t ever be presented like that, but that would be the reality.

Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ryan Coles on December 04, 2018, 04:12:55 PM
Niall


I’m not suggesting that each Club be given voting rights in proportion to affiliation fee. Currently each club has one vote, regardless of the amount raised in fees at that particular Club.


The point is the affiliation fee per person is the same whether you’re a 16 year old kid at a muni in Liverpool paying £70 per annum subs, or whether your a member of the wisley paying 10k. The affiliation fees of £20 odd are disproportionate to the sub paid.


The home unions would be better served charging clubs rather than individuals an affiliation fee. It means that the Union gets a fee from the nomadic golfer in the form of % of turnover and achieves the same aim.


Instead they are advocating crazy play more golf schemes because it’s a way to tap into nomadic golfers and get a fee from them to feed their empire, but it comes at the expense of the long term well being and viability of the Club.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on December 05, 2018, 07:31:01 AM
Ryan

Hands up, I'm not at all sure how voting rights work with the SGU. It may well be that constitutionally only clubs are allowed to vote and each club has one vote. However I was under the impression that any individual member of the SGU had a vote ? Could be wrong about that but if it is the case as you suggest then that is even less representative. It also makes it even less explicable why the SGU are advocating something that will harm most of their members (ie. clubs) in the long run.

I wonder if there are any Scottish clubs out there who aren't affiliated to the SGU ?

Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Rich Goodale on December 05, 2018, 08:38:02 AM
Niall


I would guess Muirfield (or HCEG, to be posh).  They have their own handicapping system and members who want to play open competitions use their handicaps under control of their 2nd, or 3rd, or 4th, ad infinitum other clubs to whom they belong, and are members of the SGU.


Rich
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Lou_Duran on December 05, 2018, 09:30:13 AM
Kalen,


It is always easier to be generous with other people's money and jobs, but I wouldn't think very edifying upon reflection.  I am sure folks going from $7.25 to $15 are delighted, until they lose their job.  And of course, no one thinks about the high schooler who now doesn't get to develop job skills, or the uneducated man or woman who would rather work while trying to better his/her life.  Who is being greedy, the progressive Millie who doesn't play golf sipping his $5 cup of coffee while making $30+/hour and flying his social justice flag, or the marginal golf operator who has to fire a third of his staff to keep the thing running?       


Ryan,


I've seen no credible evidence that setting a higher minimum wage creates jobs (and I do understand most Keynesian arguments).  Of course, you are aware that the concurrence of events do not necessarily suggest cause and effect.  Common sense would tell you that if you increase the cost of something, say labor or green fees, you will have less demand for it (c.p.).  This is specially true when the economy is lethargic and there is great overcapacity.


As to the comment that if a business can't pay a high minimum wage it is not a viable business, would you rather that it fold and its owner and employees go on the dole?  I guess it would make it better for those enterprises which can manage to float while the competition is being eliminated, but you don't see a vicious circle here?  Somebody has to work to pay taxes and buy things.


I'll go back to my original argument, create a growing economy where people can generate disposable income and the decline of golf there and here will be arrested.  This is done primarily by making government a lesser player in our economic and private lives, meaning lower taxes and fewer, smarter, very specific regulations.


Contrast the CL links and this one with the one just posted on the PGA moving to Frisco.  It's like living in two different planets. 
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Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brock Lynch on December 09, 2018, 09:28:11 AM
Hi all,


My wife, youngest son, and I visited St. Andrews last summer. We played 15 rounds in 12 days (my wife did not play all of those) including a day at North Berwick with lunch in between rounds. It was a great day and certainly deserves a return trip. I was checking their website recently and was disappointed to see that North Berwick had raised their day rate from 170 bp to 195 bp. That amounts to a 15% increase in one year! Testing the market?. Too many visitors? The increase relieves them of one less tee time for very seven to obtain nearly the same fees. The increase in fees at many courses has greatly increased over the past 6 to 7 years. How does this situation play a part in the landscape of Scottish Golf? Will fees return in the future when the dollar weakens and/or the economy slows down? For me, I am retiring soon and hope to visit these great venues as much as I can. However,  It appears that I may have to consider more U.S. journeys as those overseas drift out of my reach. Basic economics I suppose. Disappointing none the less.


Cheers
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on May 11, 2019, 06:18:27 AM

Founded in 1893, then redesigned by Braid?   :-\



https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/eastwood-golf-club-on-brink-of-closure-1-4925360



Eastwood Golf Club on brink of closure
MARTIN DEMPSTER
Saturday 11 May 2019


Eastwood Golf Club on the outskirts of Glasgow is close to becoming the latest Scottish club to be forced to shut its doors due to dwindling membership.


The Scotsman understands that an administrator is set to be appointed on Monday after the Renfrewshire club effectively run out of money to keep it in existence.


It is believed that a buyout had been in the pipeline, but that fell through last week, leaving a club that was founded in 1893 on the brink of closure.


“Things have taken a turn for the worse and an administrator is coming in on Monday,” said a source.


Earlier this year, the club, which sits just off the M77 close to Newton Mearns, held an open day to try and attract new members.


It also recently introduced gender-neutral tees, which were aimed at allowing golfers to play from a set of tees most suited to their ability, not their gender.


“We hope we are one of the first of many golf clubs who will make this positive step to enshrining gender equality at the heart of club golf,” said a post on the club’s Facebook page.


A handful of Scottish clubs have been closed down over the past few years, the most recent being Carrick Knowe in Edinburgh and Brunston Castle in Ayrshire.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on September 25, 2019, 05:27:50 AM
https://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/17847139.demise-mount-ellen-golf-club-leads-criticism-sadness/ (https://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/17847139.demise-mount-ellen-golf-club-leads-criticism-sadness/)



Demise of Mount Ellen Golf Club leads to criticism and sadness
By Nick Rodger
Golf Correspondent


(https://www.heraldscotland.com/resources/images/10296783.jpg)
   
A spokesperson for Mount Ellen Golf Club, which was forced to close its doors at the weekend, has declared that they did everything they could to turn the fortunes of the Gartcosh facility around.


In the latest blow to Scotland’s club golf scene, Mount Ellen, which was formed back in 1904 and had a members list which included the late Scottish PGA secretary Peter Lloyd and the former PGA chief executive Sandy Jones (pictured below), succumbed to the financial pressures and current challenges that also led to the closure of Eastwood Golf Club near Newton Mearns recently.


While taking a swing at Scottish Golf and branding the governing body as useful as a “chocolate candle”, the Mount Ellen spokesman also detailed how the club had written to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, outlining the dire straits into which many clubs have been plunged.


He said: "We've tried so many different things. Gartcosh is in the middle of an unbelievable amount of housing development. All the big housing companies are in the area and many of them have used the golf club as a selling point. Yet when we approached them for some support, some of them wouldn't even talk to us. That beggars belief, it really does.


"The members supported the golf club with cash donations, but it still doesn't work. The average age of this golf club was about 55 and they used the facilities. They were up here two or three times per week in large numbers. That's now been taken away from them, which is heartbreaking.


"We wrote to the First Minister pointing out the pressures that golf clubs and bowling clubs are under. They passed us on to sportscotland and I knew what they would say when I phoned, which was then passing us on to Scottish Golf. Scottish Golf was as much help as a chocolate candle. Scottish Golf is doing nothing for clubs like us. They offered us a grant for £600. You think, 'honest to God'.


"We've worked our socks off here for the last three of four years. We had a forward planning group and that brought in members and doubled the junior membership. It also brought in funding but, unfortunately, not enough to keep the club going. We've put out something like 3500 flyers into the new houses to encourage people to join the golf club. We've done everything we can, but we have no more options. It really is frustrating."

Jones, who served as the PGA’s chief executive for some 25 years, expressed his sadness at Mount Ellen’s demise.


Jones, who joined the club 62 years ago, said: “It is sadly the story of golf around the country and it's the same down south.


"The whole culture of playing golf has changed. They don't need membership now because you can look on your phone, see where a tee time is available and book it.


"Mount Ellen is always going to be special in my mind for what it was. It was very much a community golf course. It was the steel works that provided the golf course. I felt really sad when I heard this news.


"Back in my days there, the golf club was the centre of the community. When I played there as a kid, I remember playing with the headmaster of the local school and the policeman in the village. You knew everybody.


"The thing about the village of Gartcosh is that it's thriving again because of the new police headquarters, where a lot of people are now employed, while there's a lot of new housing.


"I thought that might have brought in new members to Mount Ellen, but that obviously hasn't happened. I don't how you avoid closures like this these days because it is a different animal and I think there will be more casualties, sadly.”


According to Scottish Golf, it was aware of the “issues faced by Mount Ellen” and met with the club in June to discuss the “variety of services and support” it could provide to help the club.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on September 25, 2019, 07:57:09 AM
I'm not going to rehash the arguments in this thread but let me say that architecturally, Mount Ellen is no big loss. It is however a loss to a hardcore of members who no longer have a club. I hope they decide on the of the several nearby clubs instead.


Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on September 25, 2019, 08:21:15 AM
I'm not going to rehash the arguments in this thread but let me say that architecturally, Mount Ellen is no big loss. It is however a loss to a hardcore of members who no longer have a club. I hope they decide on the of the several nearby clubs instead.


Niall
The good news is that it makes other clubs stronger, as the former members drift to the neighbours.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on September 25, 2019, 02:52:33 PM
I'm not going to rehash the arguments in this thread but let me say that architecturally, Mount Ellen is no big loss. It is however a loss to a hardcore of members who no longer have a club. I hope they decide on the of the several nearby clubs instead.


Niall
The good news is that it makes other clubs stronger, as the former members drift to the neighbours.



Adrian,


if only that were true. Most just become nomads.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on September 26, 2019, 02:50:21 AM
I'm not going to rehash the arguments in this thread but let me say that architecturally, Mount Ellen is no big loss. It is however a loss to a hardcore of members who no longer have a club. I hope they decide on the of the several nearby clubs instead.


Niall
The good news is that it makes other clubs stronger, as the former members drift to the neighbours.



Adrian,


if only that were true. Most just become nomads.
I forgot you knew what you were talking about.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on September 26, 2019, 03:06:25 AM
I'm not going to rehash the arguments in this thread but let me say that architecturally, Mount Ellen is no big loss. It is however a loss to a hardcore of members who no longer have a club. I hope they decide on the of the several nearby clubs instead.


Niall
The good news is that it makes other clubs stronger, as the former members drift to the neighbours.



Adrian,


if only that were true. Most just become nomads.
I forgot you knew what you were talking about.



Just remind me Adrian where in Scotland you are based to be such a guru on matters in Scottish golf? Rather than been so sarcastic maybe you might just accept that there are others with legitimate views that might differ from yours and that you are not the 'font of all knowledge' you believe yourself to be.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on September 26, 2019, 03:32:30 AM
A course closing down with members makes no difference if its Scotland or England. The pattern will still be that MEMBERS will drift into other clubs as MEMBERS. Not all obviously some will never golf again, some will just play less but the majority will join in groups at a variety of clubs.


We have had 55 members from one club that closed July 1st this year.


If they were in the MEMBER culture of enjoying team matches, competitions they will ideally stay in the mode if it is practical. Golfers turn into Nomads for other reasons but primarily geared by value. The location in the UK won't change that pattern.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on September 26, 2019, 06:27:54 AM
I think Adrian is right in that human behaviour will be much the same wherever people are located, but that he is slightly optimistic in thinking that most members will join other clubs.


Many will of course; the real golf addicts who need their fix multiple times per week and for whom golf club membership is at the core of their life.


Others however, will enjoy their freedom to play different courses as and when the fancy takes them. As long time members of a club, they will have a wide network of local golfers with whom to organise games. WhatsApp makes this so easy these days.


I seriously wonder whether I would bother joining another club if mine folded. If I did it might well be a links course miles from home rather than another local one.



Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on September 26, 2019, 07:23:40 AM
A golf course's demise by ££££ in the UK is usually because it does not have enough members and has LOST too many of those that don't play that much....the ones left are the hardcore, so why it might not be several hundred, it would be a good percentage (more than 50%) of those that remained that stick with membership, which as you say play a bit and get their moneys worth.


Two course have closed near us in the last 5 years:


One had 82 members left at shutdown we got 55.
Another had about 120, we got over 20, but there are 4 or 5 courses nearer than ours.



You will get no bleating from those who already flew the nest and those will be the Nomads.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on September 26, 2019, 08:46:17 AM

And yet the facts and figures do not back either you or Duncan up Adrian. The number of registered players is falling pretty closely to the number of members of clubs closing down suggesting most of those members are either not joining other clubs or that members of the remaining clubs are leaving at a similar rate to those who chose to join another club.


It is interesting that whilst the number of registered players is falling in Scotland at a rate of over 3% the number in England is actually rising suggesting English clubs are been more effective at recruiting new people rather than just recycling.


Once again I would point out that all your pontification about golf in Scotland is incorrect Adrian and that any business owner who is happy at the demise of competitors as a growth strategy should look closely at how such a trend might well end.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on September 26, 2019, 11:24:53 AM
At the risk of being morbid, how many are closing due to members passing away or unable to play anymore...with few younger types to fill in the gaps?


Perhaps the club model is dying with the older generations.  Would be fascinating to see a breakdown of aggregate members across all clubs in the UK by age: 20-30, 30-40, etc.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on September 26, 2019, 12:07:37 PM
At the risk of being morbid, how many are closing due to members passing away or unable to play anymore...with few younger types to fill in the gaps?


Perhaps the club model is dying with the older generations.  Would be fascinating to see a breakdown of aggregate members across all clubs in the UK by age: 20-30, 30-40, etc.
I think the normal UK golf club had a membership level of 500-600 about 15 years and further back. Gradually in that time the price has elevated so it is not such good value, easy ways to play nomadic, people die or too fragile to play and clubs lose around 10% per year. With less people interested in the game and especially in the younger sectors maybe the replacement for fresh members is only 30 new ones, so there is an averaged 20 deficit per year...over 15 years a lot of clubs are now running on a membership number of 300, I reckon I could guess the numbers at most of the clubs local to me, most are over 500, with a few strugglers. There comes a point where the club just has to realise it can't afford its place, certainly getting hard less than 300 for an 18 hole course to survive as a good facility. This pattern is probably at its strongest in Scotland as there are more closures probably lniked to the density of golf courses although the Drink Driving Laws are tighter and that has impacted the clubhouses to  point where they can't break even. In yesteryear the clubhouse may have subsidised the fees instead of a drain.


Our course has about 20% equally in the Under 30, Under 40, Under 50, Under 60...the rest.
We are a bit newer than most so attract more younger ones but generally I reckon 50% would be over 55 at most clubs in the UK, Duncan and Ryan might have better stats on those figures.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on September 26, 2019, 03:17:16 PM
Clubhouses are often seen as places that don’t ‘make’ money for golf clubs or even break-even, indeed they are often perceived as the opposite.

I wonder threrefore what the implications would be of closing/selling Clubhouses and having a cheap pavilion/shed type facilities instead given that this ought to cut costs quite bit and thus permit lower subscriptions?


Would it effect membership levels though?

Would some members carry on playing because their subs would be less?

Would members leave because there’s no smart/posh Clubhouse to hold social functions and generally hang-out in?

Just curious

Atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on September 26, 2019, 03:28:14 PM
Clubhouses are often seen as places that don’t ‘make’ money for golf clubs or even break-even, indeed they are often perceived as the opposite.

I wonder threrefore what the implications would be of closing/selling Clubhouses and having a cheap pavilion/shed type facilities instead given that this ought to cut costs quite bit and thus permit lower subscriptions?


Would it effect membership levels though?

Would some members carry on playing because their subs would be less?

Would members leave because there’s no smart/posh Clubhouse to hold social functions and generally hang-out in?

Just curious

Atb
It does affect Membership Levels and the price you can charge. Definetly some people are golf only full stop no frills required probably happy with the saving and some would leave and join a course with a clubhouse. It is a model that might work going forward a clubhouseless golf club and the tradmodel. The quality of the architecture would have even less importance!
I have a project at the moment where the clubhouse design is for it to be run by 2 in summer and 1 in the winter, glorifed pro shop, with two toilets, you can buy a beer, toastie, chips, burger...nice patio elevated over the last green.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on September 27, 2019, 03:01:51 AM
Clubhouses are often seen as places that don’t ‘make’ money for golf clubs or even break-even, indeed they are often perceived as the opposite.

I wonder threrefore what the implications would be of closing/selling Clubhouses and having a cheap pavilion/shed type facilities instead given that this ought to cut costs quite bit and thus permit lower subscriptions?


Would it effect membership levels though?

Would some members carry on playing because their subs would be less?

Would members leave because there’s no smart/posh Clubhouse to hold social functions and generally hang-out in?

Just curious

Atb


Certainly in England many "ordinary" golf clubs are lumbered with clubhouses far too large and expensive for their needs. Even on a busy Saturday, assuming members hang around on average for an hour after their round, all that is really required is a bar/terrace area large enough for 30-40 people offering light snacks.


Yet most clubhouses have a bar, a dining room, a large function room, and even a snooker room!


As membership levels decline and those members retained are far more "golf centred" than "club centred" a large clubhouse can easily become a heavy millstone around the neck of a club.


It has been very interesting to see how Cavendish has tackled this problem in the year that I have been a member. Three years ago the clubhouse was run entirely by the club, offered an inadequate service to members and visitors, and was hemorrhaging money.


Two years ago a couple was installed as franchisees paying a rent to the club in return for running the entire operation and taking any profit from the bar and catering. This worked well to a point - the losses were stemmed, the rent received covered utility bills and business rates, and the club's staffing levels were almost eliminated. The service provided however, was less than perfect to members and the impression gained was that the franchisees were only really concerned with lucrative weddings and functions.


This year, a member and local restaurateur took over the franchise at a far higher rental and the place has been transformed. A professional Italian chef has been installed and the quality and availability of the food offer has soared. A members' bar with private terrace overlooking the practice green has been established by voluntary contributions and labour (at zero cost to the club) enabling the main clubhouse to be open to the public without inconveniencing members in the least. Our clubhouse is now regularly packed to the gunnels with local folk enjoying a pint and a meal, together with the finest view in town from our west-facing terrace over the course and the surrounding hills. The place is buzzing.


This would have been impossible if the club had retained the management of the house.


As a result we are now attracting new members from other local clubs who enjoy the clubhouse atmosphere as much as they enjoy the course. We have also recruited a few members who have never contemplated golf before but are compelled to give it a go as a result of social visits to the club.


A smaller clubhouse is not necessarily the answer to a loss making house. Handing the place over to professionals can be an even better solution.


 


Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on September 27, 2019, 07:33:26 AM
Thanks Duncan. Nice to hear of this Cavendish success story. It’ll be interesting to see how Adrian’s project progresses.
Easy to forget that once upon a time many a clubhouse was a wooden pavilion or even the backroom at the local pub!

Atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on September 27, 2019, 11:04:44 AM
Duncan,


I really like what you guys did there in renting it out as a proper restaurant.  Given the existing clubhouse is already a sunk cost, seems like a great way to get the millstone off your neck without having a mostly empty structure just sitting there.


I wonder how many other clubs would be able to implement something like this!
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on September 27, 2019, 10:10:30 PM
Kalen ,


It’s all about location.


At Cavendish we’re blessed in that respect. The clubhouse is in the smart end of town and in an elevated position overlooking the course and spectacular surrounding countryside. It also has a glorious outside sitting area which catches the evening sun.


Lesser locations might struggle.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on September 28, 2019, 01:57:01 PM
Duncan,

True, but i'd rather have a fine meal in a basement restaurant over a mediocre meal in one with a view... any day of the week..  ;)

I suppose a bit depends on how remote it is too and whether there are enough locals to keep it going...
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Daryl David on September 28, 2019, 04:54:30 PM
Duncan,

True, but i'd rather have a fine meal in a basement restaurant over a mediocre meal in one with a view... any day of the week..  ;)

I suppose a bit depends on how remote it is too and whether there are enough locals to keep it going...


I guess you haven’t spent much time in the U.K. sampling local dining.  ;D
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on September 29, 2019, 12:46:06 AM
Duncan,

True, but i'd rather have a fine meal in a basement restaurant over a mediocre meal in one with a view... any day of the week..  ;)



Okay Smartypants,


but all other things being equal, the better location and ambience will win out!


😉







Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on September 29, 2019, 05:49:22 PM
DD,

That's a definite no, but I have heard the legendary stories of questionable fare in those parts.  But I can't figure why given you got Gordon Ramsey at your beckon call right??!  ;D

DC,

Great point as usual, I was mostly just messing.  Growing up my favorite restaurant was a hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint in the bad part of town. Not a place to wander about after dark, but I sure loved those burritos and fajitas.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jerry Kluger on September 29, 2019, 10:52:15 PM
In my limited time spent in Scotland I have seen quite a few courses which are very local in nature and the course is owned by the town or village, etc. and as the younger people look to move to the cities, etc., the course loses much of the population which would normally contribute to its financial success. The vast majority of visitors do not visit these courses so they struggle to exist and have a tough time staying open.  My experience in the US has been that very few golf courses have public dining rooms which aid in their financial success. 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on October 05, 2019, 02:47:21 AM
Been the talk of the area all week ..


https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/sport/1859085/newmachar-to-raise-fees/



Newmachar Golf Club confident they can overcome a ‘challenging financial position’
by Reporter
October 5, 2019


(https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/10/5d97b8eeb61157.88032577-559x372.jpg)


One of the biggest golf clubs in the north-east is raising membership fees next year after a project to upgrade its driving range cost £220,000 more than expected.


Newmachar Golf Club’s management committee contacted its 1,400 members yesterday to say they are confident they can overcome “a challenging financial position”.


The overall cost of the driving range project to date is £620,000.


A special general meeting, attended by 179 members, was held on Monday to discuss the spiralling costs.


It is understood a member paid last month’s salaries of £30,000 out of his own pocket.


A suggestion was put forward at the meeting for an immediate £200 levy to be applied to each member but the committee has agreed this will not happen.


Instead membership fees will be increased by 5% next season.


The statement to members read: “Many of you will be aware we had a meeting last year where it was agreed the driving range would be upgraded at a significant cost, which we asked you, the members, to contribute to.


“We were delighted with the response and we have a magnificent facility that many clubs around the north-east – and indeed Scotland – would yearn for.


“However, it has come to light that the project was over-budget to the tune of around £220,000.


“It has also been established the club had not achieved its funding target from members.


“This leaves us in a challenging financial position but it is one we are in the process of addressing and one we are confident we can overcome.”


It continued: “We have to grow. The present situation has led to us using our overdraft facility and we are due creditors money.


“We are in discussions with our bank to help alleviate the current situation and we have put together a solid business case for assistance.


“Part of the process will see a 5% increase in fees for next year. Many sports clubs across the country impose an increase in fees every year and we are no different.


“We have one of the best facilities in the region and we have increased our membership by nearly 18% in the last year.”


It added: “We have made mistakes and we apologise for those. However, we are confident the moves we have made and are continuing to make will resolve the current situation.”


Newmachar Golf Club features two courses – the Hawkshill and the Swailend – designed by renowned golf architect Dave Thomas.


Golf commentator Peter Alliss described the Hawkshill as “destined to become one of the top five inland courses in Britain”.


The Hawkshill opened in 1990, with the Swailend opening seven years later.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on October 05, 2019, 03:39:19 AM
Oh dear. Who was involved in that project?


I joined Newmachar before it opened, one of the first names on the membership sheet. It was my first experience of walking a golf course through the construction period. It was also at a time when American style GCA was something new to us and we embraced especially the water hazards (of which there are plenty).


Hawkshill is an excellent course in a beautiful setting and I hope it survives. I had already left the club by the time the Swailend course opened. It always appeared superfluous and a lot less interesting.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on October 05, 2019, 01:23:47 PM

It looks a clear case of a club not looking at a facility upgrade from the business point of view nor looking after the build budget all that well. Spending £400K on a driving range is mind boggling but allowing it to then run £220K over budget is well.... I can only assume there was more to it than just covered bays, machinery and field. Having said that, if the range does not cover it's own costs then the club should not have built it. It is a lot cheaper to have a practice ground and though a range is nice it is certainly not the best place to practice for the low handicappers and higher handicappers tend not to do more than warm up.


Clubs need to learn to only spend what they can afford.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on October 31, 2019, 04:37:12 AM
https://golfweek.com/2019/10/30/british-irish-golf-clubs-continue-membership-decline/



British and Irish golf clubs continue membership decline
By: Alistair Tait | October 30, 2019


British and Irish golf club members are continuing to quit the game in worrying numbers, according to a survey published Wednesday.


KPMG’s Golf Participation Report for Europe 2019 highlights a drop in registered golfers and golf club members in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales between 2017 and 2018 that should have alarm bells ringing for golf administrators, and those running British and Irish golf clubs.


Scotland saw a drop of 7,521 registered golfers, a 4% loss, between 2017-2018. There are now 180,281 golfers registered to Scottish golf clubs compared to 187,802 in 2017.


Wales experienced a 4.06% drop from 44,551 golf club members in 2017 compared to 42,743 last year.


England, the country with the most registered golfers in Europe, had a 1.63% drop. There were 645,151 registered golfers in 2018 against 655,839 in 2017.


Ireland remained largely static, with just a 0.58% decline. The Emerald Isle lost 1,063 registered golfers to take its participation rate to 182,398 in 2018.


The figures continue a worrying downward trend for all four nations over the last five years, especially in Scotland and Wales. Wales has experienced a 16.92% loss from the 51,445 registered golfers in 2014.


Scotland has seen a 14.07% decline. The Home of Golf had 209,812 registered players in 2014. England is down 9.43% from 712,390 players five years ago. Despite Ireland’s marginal loss between 2017 and 2018, it has experienced an 8.59% drop since 2014 when there were 199,550 golf club members.


In total, the four nations have lost 122,625 golf club members in five years, a 10.43% decline.


The KPMG report does not include golfers who do not belong to a golf club, or those who have quit their memberships but still play. However, the figures make grim reading for those trying to grow the game in Great Britain & Ireland.


 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on October 31, 2019, 05:36:17 AM
Nothing we don't really know. We have almost ALL agreed that the traditional UK membership packages are shrinking and golfers that were members are now still golfers but just pay and play and play less. The reason mainly is there are attractive cost saving options elsewhere by paying and playing. Lowest price is the key driver.


There will always be a few that give up and few new ones that take up.


What really needs to happen is golfers play more.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brock Lynch on October 31, 2019, 08:45:39 AM
I'd like to know the numbers on female golfers. It seems to me that this is an untapped resource in this country and likely in the UK. Is there no hope of more ladies taking up the game?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on October 31, 2019, 01:32:03 PM
Nothing we don't really know. We have almost ALL agreed that the traditional UK membership packages are shrinking and golfers that were members are now still golfers but just pay and play and play less. The reason mainly is there are attractive cost saving options elsewhere by paying and playing. Lowest price is the key driver.


There will always be a few that give up and few new ones that take up.


What really needs to happen is golfers play more.



Spot on. Clubs that have been innovative are doing okay and those with their head in the sand continue to struggle.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jeff Schley on October 31, 2019, 02:25:08 PM
The reason mainly is there are attractive cost saving options elsewhere by paying and playing. Lowest price is the key driver.


As an American looking at UK yearly member fees, which are lower by a multiple of 10 or more for nicer clubs, how much lower can they get?  If people aren't playing golf because they want lower priced golf, is it even realistic to run a club on such a small amount of membership funds? Inflation typically is ....... upwards, so golf fees should go in the same direction.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on October 31, 2019, 05:18:11 PM
The reason mainly is there are attractive cost saving options elsewhere by paying and playing. Lowest price is the key driver.


As an American looking at UK yearly member fees, which are lower by a multiple of 10 or more for nicer clubs, how much lower can they get?  If people aren't playing golf because they want lower priced golf, is it even realistic to run a club on such a small amount of membership funds? Inflation typically is ....... upwards, so golf fees should go in the same direction.



Jeff,


if the UK golf followed the US model it would be dead. Thankfully this is not the case.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on November 01, 2019, 12:52:43 AM

As an American looking at UK yearly member fees, which are lower by a multiple of 10 or more for nicer clubs, how much lower can they get?  If people aren't playing golf because they want lower priced golf, is it even realistic to run a club on such a small amount of membership funds? Inflation typically is ....... upwards, so golf fees should go in the same direction.


The bulk of UK clubs manage to survive on 300 or so members paying between £750 and £1000 per year for unlimited golf. They do this by keeping course maintenance costs down to maybe £100-150k employing perhaps 3-4 full time greens staff. Fortunately our climate is such that irrigation is seldom an issue. Drainage however, certainly is!


Most such clubs rely on volunteer labour from members to help with the upkeep of the course and with woodland management.


It is a hand to mouth existence for most clubs. As membership overall declines clubs feel themselves forced to chase green fee income from visitors at ever lower rates. This in turn feeds the decline in membership overall as infrequent golfers get better value for money and more variety by not being aligned to a particular club. So the downward spiral continues.

I used to think that the most fashionable or elite clubs in each locality were immune to this phenomenon. It seems not. In my area clubs which have always had a closed waiting list, a hefty joining fee and have historically been the habitat of the local great and good are now advertising membership deals on Facebook to all comers.


My wife has just joined the poshest club in our area (a nice Colt course) largely because it is only two minutes from home. 800 quid a year payable in monthly installments and no joining fee. It's no more expensive than the perfectly pleasant but undistinguished and boggy tree-lined "parkland" she was playing at on the other side of town.


What future is there for such courses?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on November 01, 2019, 03:32:44 AM

Duncan,


they will have to create and maintain a good club feel that people want to be part of. It was this that kept many a club going in the pre 90's boom but many clubs have simply forgotten it.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jeff Schley on November 01, 2019, 05:09:24 AM
The reason mainly is there are attractive cost saving options elsewhere by paying and playing. Lowest price is the key driver.


As an American looking at UK yearly member fees, which are lower by a multiple of 10 or more for nicer clubs, how much lower can they get?  If people aren't playing golf because they want lower priced golf, is it even realistic to run a club on such a small amount of membership funds? Inflation typically is ....... upwards, so golf fees should go in the same direction.



Jeff,


if the UK golf followed the US model it would be dead. Thankfully this is not the case.
Jon praise the lord for that indeed. What good comes from the yanks anyway right?

However, I have read participation (by member numbers) is down almost 10% in the last 5 years in the UK. The income statement/balance sheet at these clubs are probably shared with the membership, so unless there is some embezzlement happening the clubs are spending what they take in.  From what I have read it is falling short and clubs are in jeopardy, thus what is the answer?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Tony_Muldoon on November 01, 2019, 06:03:20 AM


Scotland saw a drop of 7,521 registered golfers, a 4% loss, between 2017-2018. There are now 180,281 golfers registered to Scottish golf clubs compared to 187,802 in 2017.


Ireland remained largely static, with just a 0.58% decline. The Emerald Isle lost 1,063 registered golfers to take its participation rate to 182,398 in 2018.



I find this surprising. That there are now more Club golfers in Ireland than Scotland.


Populations (Google)


Ireland   4.8m  350 (guesstimate?) courses.  This works out at 521 members per club
Scotland 5.5m  550 courses.    327 per club


I would look at why this is happening. This thread hasn't considered the bigger picture.  Ireland was hit particularity hard economically in 2008 and recently the economy has seen more of an upturn than Scotland and Wales's have. 


If you looked at the no of golf courses in each country. Generalising hugely,  Ireland have seen many new courses added in past  40 years. In contrast Scotland has seen much more limited net growth.


But more golfers in Ireland than Scotland.  Wow.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on November 01, 2019, 07:42:40 AM
The reason mainly is there are attractive cost saving options elsewhere by paying and playing. Lowest price is the key driver.


As an American looking at UK yearly member fees, which are lower by a multiple of 10 or more for nicer clubs, how much lower can they get?  If people aren't playing golf because they want lower priced golf, is it even realistic to run a club on such a small amount of membership funds? Inflation typically is ....... upwards, so golf fees should go in the same direction.



Jeff,


if the UK golf followed the US model it would be dead. Thankfully this is not the case.
Jon praise the lord for that indeed. What good comes from the yanks anyway right?

However, I have read participation (by member numbers) is down almost 10% in the last 5 years in the UK. The income statement/balance sheet at these clubs are probably shared with the membership, so unless there is some embezzlement happening the clubs are spending what they take in.  From what I have read it is falling short and clubs are in jeopardy, thus what is the answer?



Jeff,


no slight against the 'yanks' was intended nor made. I just pointed out that the US model would be unsustainable in the UK. As to your question, I think you will find plenty of suggestions if you peruse this thread.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Daryl David on November 01, 2019, 03:13:43 PM
The US model depends on a population of affluent golfers that care a great deal about privacy, status and exclusivity.  It would seem the golfing population in U.K. doesn’t share that mindset. The US model keeps chugging along at those clubs that share those characteristics. Not saying that is good or bad. Just different.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Bernie Bell on November 01, 2019, 03:58:56 PM
Latest NGF data shows 20 million US golfers account for 95% of rounds played.  I would suggest that an infinitesimal percentage of those 20 million are "affluent golfers that care a great deal about privacy, status and exclusivity."  The muckety clubs are a US model, but are very far from the US model.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on November 01, 2019, 04:00:40 PM
The US model depends on a population of affluent golfers that care a great deal about privacy, status and exclusivity.  It would seem the golfing population in U.K. doesn’t share that mindset. The US model keeps chugging along at those clubs that share those characteristics. Not saying that is good or bad. Just different.
The UK model is kinda based around the principle of two five handicappers competing in a team match. One of the 5 handicappers is a 49 year bank manager, his partner is a 15 year old school boy. The 15 year old boy is not thinking his partner earns £100k per year. The bank manager wishes he was as supple as his partner. It is that sort of integration the feeds the UK Model. Both are just thinking golf.


The traditional UK model has no barriers as such. The golf club is a collection of groups of mates. Wealthy members don't join the wealthy clubs because their mates can't afford it. Things were different 40 years ago. Some people joined the golf club so they could sell the charms to other members and played just twice a year.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on November 01, 2019, 04:01:15 PM
Id be curious to know what the relative numbers are for US clubs and golfers compared to these ones for the UK.


Its not like courses and golfers aren't dropping like flies over here too.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on January 01, 2020, 11:20:06 PM
On the 31st of December, the 130 year old, Dollar Golf Club closed it's doors for the last time.


Never played it, but I think it was designed by Ben Sayers, and it was bunkerless.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on January 02, 2020, 05:02:09 AM
The problem with Scotland is highlighted in these days of over supply.


Scotland priced its golf too cheap and there is little room to increase prices when others price low.


Sadly, this will continue to happen until the over supply is corrected but clubs will struggle on paying less employees, managers, pro-less, clubhouse-less.


Scotland is not just immune. The low price is common in the North of England.


Any club charging less than £20 for a game is a candidate to struggle, simple maths. You got to be very busy to make it work or next to zero staff and budget.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on January 02, 2020, 06:04:36 AM
More and more these days I get the impression that even for £20 folks expect Augusta like conditioning year round and are disappointed, even won’t play, if they don’t get it.
Long gone the days of folks having only a few mis-matched clubs in a scruffy old bag with socks as head-covers and accepting course conditions as they come.
Atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Simon Holt on January 02, 2020, 06:18:04 AM
Far from there being no problem, there will be some 2nd/3rd tier clubs that will hopefully do better in the coming years.  Waiting lists are being closed or becoming "unwaitable" at some clubs, albeit only the top end, which means keen golfers on lists will look elsewhere to bridge the gap while they wait for the bigger name club to let them in.  Coupled with the unfortunate closing of many clubs, those golfers will have to go elsewhere for their golf too. 


It's a correction that we know happens in all saturated markets, not just golf.  That doesn't make it any easier to swallow or mask the fact that golfer numbers are diminishing at what feels like a double digit rate, year on year.  There is not much any of us here can do on a personal level other than invite non-golfers to come for a game, or encourage former golfers to return the moment either of those groups show interest.



Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on January 02, 2020, 08:26:25 AM
More and more these days I get the impression that even for £20 folks expect Augusta like conditioning year round and are disappointed, even won’t play, if they don’t get it.
Long gone the days of folks having only a few mis-matched clubs in a scruffy old bag with socks as head-covers and accepting course conditions as they come.
Atb


Yep, TV coverage of the PGA Tour has a lot to answer for.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on January 02, 2020, 01:07:27 PM
More and more these days I get the impression that even for £20 folks expect Augusta like conditioning year round and are disappointed, even won’t play, if they don’t get it.
Long gone the days of folks having only a few mis-matched clubs in a scruffy old bag with socks as head-covers and accepting course conditions as they come.
Atb


Yep, TV coverage of the PGA Tour has a lot to answer for.



I disagree Brian. Whilst the top clubs have seen GF prices soar to stupid level middle tier clubs dumping the price of green fees way below what is sustainable has trashed both the GF revenue and membership value. Club's and the home unions are almost entirely responsible. If I play 25 rounds a year, why would I pay £1000 to be a member of a club that sells weekend green fees at £25?   
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on January 14, 2020, 03:14:40 AM
Anyone paying attention, will know that I think Craigie Hill is one of the quirkiest courses in Scotland, and is a must play for lovers of quirk.


If you have not done already, then you have about 5 years  :(


http://www.thegolfbusiness.co.uk/2020/01/scottish-club-to-convert-from-18-to-nine-holes-to-secure-its-future/



Scottish club to convert from 18 to nine holes to secure its future
Alistair Dunsmuir
January 8, 2020
A Scottish golf club will work towards creating a nine-hole golf course and will create a ‘transition fund’ to cover costs and debts, in a bid to secure its future.


Craigie Hill Golf Club near Perth, which dates back to 1911, says it will preserve the current 18-hole set-up and clubhouse facility for a period of up to five years.


“We’re delighted that the members have wholeheartedly supported the proposals to maintain the course in its current configuration for the next few years and allow the board to work towards the transition to the city’s first nine-hole course, complete with a new clubhouse, practice facilities and adjacent parking,” said club captain Crawford Conochie.


“The resounding vote provides much-needed security going forward as the board seeks to ensure the long-term viability of an historic golf club in the heart of the city.


“This is an exciting opportunity and ensures that Craigie Hill will survive as a golf club long into the future.


“Now we are confident of retaining current members and attracting new faces for the 2020 season, with membership fees of £490 and the Scottish Golf levy.


“The transition fund will be launched shortly, enabling us to retain control going forward.


“It is designed to generate £300,000, with members being given an opportunity to crowdfund a loan to the club, with the benefit of a guaranteed four per cent return on their investment.


“At an agreed date, our members will be able to commit £1,000 per unit, with their initial investment and interest locked in until our chosen development partner can successfully navigate the planning process.


“This safeguards the immediate future of the club and we can actively seek out a developer from a solid financial base.”


While several Scottish golf courses have folded recently, nine-hole tracks are proving increasingly popular with golfers struggling to commit the time required to get around 18 holes.


The club’s board believes a mostly flat par 34 / 68, south facing nine-hole course, with multiple tee options, will prove sustainable and offer value for money membership.


(http://www.thegolfbusiness.co.uk/content/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/04-09-Craigie-Hill-course-700x466.jpg)
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on January 14, 2020, 07:23:03 AM
Brian


Thank you for bringing this to my attention. It is a course that I've been meaning to play for a while and not just because I've driven by it hundreds of times and wondered at some of the holes as they play over and around the hill. I'm also interested because it's a Willie Fernie design which I assume hasn't been buggered about with.


Anyone else up for a gca clan outing to Craigie Hill in the spring ?


Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Marty Bonnar on January 14, 2020, 01:57:05 PM
Brian


Thank you for bringing this to my attention. It is a course that I've been meaning to play for a while and not just because I've driven by it hundreds of times and wondered at some of the holes as they play over and around the hill. I'm also interested because it's a Willie Fernie design which I assume hasn't been buggered about with.


Anyone else up for a gca clan outing to Craigie Hill in the spring ?


Niall


Count me in. Fine and handy from the Office!
 ;D
F.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Michael Graham on January 14, 2020, 02:03:16 PM
Sounds good Niall.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on January 15, 2020, 02:39:10 AM
Count me in, too.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on January 15, 2020, 04:13:40 AM
I'm in too.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ari Techner on January 15, 2020, 04:20:15 AM
I'm in also
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on January 15, 2020, 10:03:45 AM
If I can tie it in with a trip to see Dan and there is a lift available from Glasgow I'm in too!  ;)
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on January 28, 2020, 08:54:25 PM
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/glasgow-tees-up-closure-of-five-golf-courses-lrktp2v75 (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/glasgow-tees-up-closure-of-five-golf-courses-lrktp2v75)



Glasgow tees up closure of five golf courses
Charlie Parker
Wednesday January 29 2020


Golfers are concerned for the future of municipal courses after Glasgow said it planned to close five of its six clubs.


It is understood that the move could save £530,000, but it has not yet been finalised. Last year councillors in Dundee voted to close one of two public courses to save almost £400,000 in annual subsidies. In Edinburgh, council chiefs, who expect to have to find up to £40 million in savings from their budget for 2021-22, are considering a review of subsidies of six public courses.


Andrew McKinlay, the chief executive of Scottish Golf (SG), said that municipal courses were “the fabric of the grassroots game in Scotland”, adding: “In certain local authorities the municipal course finds itself as a direct competitor to [private] clubs offering discounted rates via third parties.”


Camperdown golf course in Dundee is due to close this year in a move that one opposition official described as “cultural vandalism”. The club has only 90 members, and the number of rounds played has fallen from 23,968 in 2009-2010 to 17,369 in 2018-19.


Five courses managed by Glasgow Life, the cultural and sporting arm of the city council, could also be closed to save money. Littlehill, Lethamhill, Linn Park, Ruchill and Alexandra Park courses are all under threat.


An official document has set out options to help the council to save a total of £50 million. It says that more than half a million pounds could be saved by closing all the public golf clubs apart from the nine holes at Knightswood.


Glasgow Life launched a public consultation over the “low usage” and “substantial annual deficit” in keeping the courses going.


David Doig, of the Lothians Golf Association, said that the other councils could soon follow Glasgow’s lead.


“The Braids golf course in Edinburgh, for example, went from two 18-hole golf courses to an 18 and a nine,” he said. “We’re concerned the golf courses are closing across Scotland and in the Lothian area as well.


“A few years ago we lost a couple of clubs through lack of members but a lot of the closure of the council courses is more about the lack of finances to keep them to a condition that they need them to be at. They’re public golf courses so there’s no membership allocation to them. They’re obviously not raking in enough money to keep their head above water.”


Mr McKinlay said that SG aimed to make the sport more attractive to younger people.


A spokesman for Glasgow council said: “We need to make budget savings which could be in the region of £50 million. The cross-party budget working group asked officers for savings options. All parties have received the same information and they will present their budgets at a meeting on February 20.”
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on January 28, 2020, 09:01:46 PM
Littlehill, Lethamhill, Linn Park, Ruchill and Alexandra Park courses are all under threat.


Littlehill, thought highly enough to hold an Open Qualifier.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: David_Tepper on January 29, 2020, 12:16:12 AM
Brian -
Thanks for posting this news, sad (and shocking) as it is.
DT
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on January 29, 2020, 02:55:35 AM
Yes DT very sad news indeed. But given Glasgow City Councils track record on management it is a wonder they haven't shut down everything.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on January 29, 2020, 05:51:07 AM
The new minimum wage from April 1st will further seal the fate of many more in Scotland.


Scotland does not charge enough for golf so quite simply there is not enough money to cover costs. It is not just Scotland that is immune. West Wales, the north of England are all next in line.


Courses can survive charging low fees if they have less employees, accept worse playing conditions, no golf professional, no golf secretary and most important get rid of the clubhouse.


It is not rocket science, just the simplest of mathematics fueled by under supply of people wanting to play a game that is not as good as it was 20 years ago.


You reap what you sow.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on January 29, 2020, 07:34:47 AM
Andrew McKinlay, the chief executive of Scottish Golf (SG), said that municipal courses were “the fabric of the grassroots game in Scotland”, adding: “In certain local authorities the municipal course finds itself as a direct competitor to [private] clubs offering discounted rates via third parties.”

Hang on, is this not the same organisation that is trying to make booking easier for visitors and thereby undermining the benefit of being a club member, and it should be said undermining the value of municipals ?

Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on January 29, 2020, 08:01:38 AM
Also in terms of the Glasgow situation those that know me know I can't say too much in my present position but just let me say that it's not a given these courses will close and that there are things happening behind the scenes that might surprise a few folk.


In terms of the courses themselves, Littlehill (Auchinairn as it was originally called) is a 18 hole James Braid from the early to mid 1920's. Having seen a plan of the original course I would judge that it has had next to no changes and while it is kept in very basic condition the architecture shines through strongly. I was very surprised at how good a course it is.


Lethamhill - an 18 holer from pre-WWI, it has been tampered with. Originally David Adams (I think) then Vardon/Braid it also has interesting/quirky/fun golf. Well worth a play but not on the same level as Littlehill.


Ruchill - 9 holer that was built on the site of an old 9 hole course that once hosted one of the first Scottish Professional golf championships. The new course is about 10 years old and while Monty put his name to it by way of supporting the project, the design was done largely by a landscape architect with little golf experience. Not played it as it is effectively already closed as they don't have the money to man it.


Linn Park - 18 holer that I've never played but I think this was the original course of Cathcart Castle GC. Again dates back to pre-WWI.


Alexandria Park - apart from a few holes this is no more than a glorified par 3 course. The course is now 9 holes but in the past they have had between 10 and 18 holes. Alexandria Park opened early 1870's and the Glasgow GC moved their shortly thereafter. When they left the Council took over the running. In it's day it used to have professional comps with the likes of Old Tom, Willie Park, Andrew Kirkaldy, Willie Fernie and Ben Sayers. It has no real architectural merit but it is the oldest golfing ground in the city still used for golf.


Knightswood gets a mention with the suggestion it won't be closed and that I think is to do with it being adjacent with a new state of the art BMX bike track and shared clubhouse. The course itself is a nice enough nine holer that again dates from pre-WWI and possibly pre 20th century.


Setting aside the historic links like Musselburgh, TOC etc, Glasgow was probably the first UK city to provide municipal courses to a great extent. It's a shame that the City might lose that heritage but as I said before I wouldn't assume it's a given that all these courses will close.


Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on January 29, 2020, 08:34:27 AM
Thanks Niall.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on January 29, 2020, 12:12:20 PM

Indeed, thanks for the info Niall.


As for SG or SGU they have totally failed the game in Scotland and must shoulder a large portion of the blame for the present situation.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Clyde Johnson on January 29, 2020, 03:20:29 PM
Niall:


Which of the Glasgow courses would you most like saved, if only one?


I know we've talked about this in person, but would any be worth playing before they close for good, if they indeed do?


Cheers.



Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on January 30, 2020, 01:07:46 AM
It's not just in Scotland - municipal courses are under threat across England and Wales too, and it's not hard to see why.

Municipal courses were established originally in mainly urban areas to cater for demand from ordinary people who didn't have access to a private club, which were generally rather elite middle-class establishments. Just as importantly, municipal courses were seen as a revenue stream by local authorities - they had the potential of being very profitable.

However, the entire model on which municipal golf was built has in recent years been undermined.

Everyone now has access to to a wide choice of private club or proprietary course - whether as a member or as a green fee payer at an affordable price. This has inevitably led to a drop in demand for municipal golf and a collapse in the price such courses are able to charge.

Far from being profit centres, municipal golf courses are now drains on local authority finances as they fail to cover costs. Add to this the pressure local authorities are under to identify suitable land for housing development and the results are easy to predict.

I can think of no valid argument for local council tax payers being expected to subsidise municipal courses long term when there are so many alternatives available for inexpensive golf.

I would hope that the best municipal courses could be taken over and managed by their members, but given the state of the golf market generally at the lower end this is probably unrealistic. Most muni golfers will simply decamp to a local club or become nomadic GolfNow WhatsApp group players.

Sad in its way, but almost certainly an inevitability...


 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on January 30, 2020, 04:41:19 AM
I have hardened up to the fact it is no longer sad that a golf course is closing.


There are too many so some must close.


Those closing make the others around it stronger.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on January 30, 2020, 07:57:14 AM
Niall:


Which of the Glasgow courses would you most like saved, if only one?


I know we've talked about this in person, but would any be worth playing before they close for good, if they indeed do?


Cheers.


Clyde


Architecture wise I'd plump for Littlehill. Emotionally I'm tempted to go for Alexandria Park but that is kind of tempered by the fact that what is there is of no real great merit architecture wise even though it does serve a function of sorts. For you, the one you'd want to see would be Littlehill. It won't necessarily blow you away but I think you'd appreciate the design.


I'll caveat all that by saying I haven't seen Linn Park or indeed Ruchill (well I kind of have through the fence).


Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on January 30, 2020, 09:36:38 AM
Niall:


Which of the Glasgow courses would you most like saved, if only one?


I know we've talked about this in person, but would any be worth playing before they close for good, if they indeed do?


Cheers.


Clyde


Architecture wise I'd plump for Littlehill. Emotionally I'm tempted to go for Alexandria Park but that is kind of tempered by the fact that what is there is of no real great merit architecture wise even though it does serve a function of sorts. For you, the one you'd want to see would be Littlehill. It won't necessarily blow you away but I think you'd appreciate the design.


I'll caveat all that by saying I haven't seen Linn Park or indeed Ruchill (well I kind of have through the fence).


Niall

The Ruchill I knew had a couple of burnt out cars strewn across greens, a few needles in the cups and the occasional buckfast-sozzled drunk sleeping in a bunker.

It was pretty much already sunk.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ryan Coles on January 30, 2020, 04:41:12 PM
Niall


Are there many middle of the road member clubs that would stand to benefit from the reduction in supply / potential demise of these courses?


Is there much provision between the high end Clubs and these which are proposed to close/be sold off?


Never a fan of courses closing, but I tend to lean towards Duncan’s view that municipal golf provision is not really necessary as things stand.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Tom_Doak on January 30, 2020, 05:15:48 PM
To check out this thesis, today I stopped in at a small town club in Scotland which I'd never seen in my travels.  (I had only got to about 10km away before.)


They have nine holes of rugged links terrain with a few houses about.  The locker room had 14 lockers; the handicap sheet indicated about 20 full members and 40 seniors.  The honesty tray of used golf balls for 20p was a clear indicator.


I fear its time is short and the local golfers will have to drive to the next town 10 minutes up the road to play.  A shame really as it is a lovely wee course, and once it's gone, the kids who grow up there will be much less likely to take up golf.  The primary school is right next to the clubhouse.  Perhaps they will keep two or three holes even if the club folds?  One can hope.


I wish I had been there on a busier day to meet some of the members and hear what it means to them.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on January 30, 2020, 05:35:53 PM
Tom

It's like many things in life... use it or lose it.

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Marty Bonnar on January 30, 2020, 05:36:29 PM
To check out this thesis, today I stopped in at a small town club in Scotland which I'd never seen in my travels.  (I had only got to about 10km away before.)


They have nine holes of rugged links terrain with a few houses about.  The locker room had 14 lockers; the handicap sheet indicated about 20 full members and 40 seniors.  The honesty tray of used golf balls for 20p was a clear indicator.


I fear its time is short and the local golfers will have to drive to the next town 10 minutes up the road to play.  A shame really as it is a lovely wee course, and once it's gone, the kids who grow up there will be much less likely to take up golf.  The primary school is right next to the clubhouse.  Perhaps they will keep two or three holes even if the club folds?  One can hope.


I wish I had been there on a busier day to meet some of the members and hear what it means to them.


Well, you’ve certainly got me trying to guess where you were!
Don’t tell us just yet.
Assuming somewhere between EDI and East Lothian.......
Any Scottish GCAers got any idea...?


M.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on January 30, 2020, 08:48:01 PM
I have hardened up to the fact it is no longer sad that a golf course is closing.


There are too many so some must close.


Those closing make the others around it stronger.


Not when golfers continue to give the game up.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on January 31, 2020, 01:04:15 AM
I have hardened up to the fact it is no longer sad that a golf course is closing.


There are too many so some must close.


Those closing make the others around it stronger.


Not when golfers continue to give the game up.



I recall reading figures recently that showed the number of active golfers in Scotland had remained stable with just a small reduction in numbers compared to the previous year but that the fall in golfers who were club members continued showing there was no switch across. In England the number of golfers had actually increased which surprised me.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on January 31, 2020, 01:18:26 AM
My experience of rural Scottish golf is minimal - restricted to a few days spent on Arran last year with my wife after settling our son in at Glasgow University.


We played Shiskine followed by two or three very basic 9-holers which exuded plenty of rustic charm and not a little quirk. We encountered a few members at each - none of whom appeared to be under the age of 75. The lady selling green fees at the 18 hole 4000 yard Whiting Bay GC told us that she had been doing the job for 60 years but had yet to climb the steep 1st hole for a proper look at the course, never mind play it!


Such clubs and courses are in a time warp. One feels as if one is stepping back to the 1950s. Of course, in a busy tourist area such as Arran this is a selling point to golf nerds like those of us on this site and survival is conceivable. In less touristy areas of the mainland I am sure it is another story.


Much as I enjoyed the little clubs and courses on Arran if I was a resident of the island or a regular visitor the only club I would consider joining is Shiskine - even if it meant a 30 minute journey every time I wanted to play golf. I suspect therein lies much of the problem. Increased mobility has expanded the catchment areas of the better quality courses, leaving the rustic local courses struggling for business.


I can't imagine any keen Arran golfer in his 30s, 40s or 50s being happy playing his regular golf at Corrie or Whiting Bay when Shiskine is a shortish drive away. This mindset does not bode well for smaller shoestring clubs anywhere.

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ryan Coles on January 31, 2020, 01:22:00 AM
I have hardened up to the fact it is no longer sad that a golf course is closing.


There are too many so some must close.


Those closing make the others around it stronger.


Not when golfers continue to give the game up.



I recall reading figures recently that showed the number of active golfers in Scotland had remained stable with just a small reduction in numbers compared to the previous year but that the fall in golfers who were club members continued showing there was no switch across. In England the number of golfers had actually increased which surprised me.


I’d take their stats with a pinch of salt. They have no way of knowing. The only semblance of any reliability is membership numbers.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on January 31, 2020, 01:32:59 AM

I’d take their stats with a pinch of salt. They have no way of knowing. The only semblance of any reliability is membership numbers.


Indeed.


I keep reading figures that something like 60% of golfers do not belong to a club.


This of course, depends on your definition of a golfer. Is the guy who plays in his company golf day once a year a "golfer"?


Golf as a sport relies on addiction. It isn't a pastime to be dipped in and out of. Golf addicts tend to be members of clubs as they can kid themselves (and their wives) that the more they play the better value for money they are getting.


 ;)
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on January 31, 2020, 03:05:46 AM
To check out this thesis, today I stopped in at a small town club in Scotland which I'd never seen in my travels.  (I had only got to about 10km away before.)
They have nine holes of rugged links terrain with a few houses about.  The locker room had 14 lockers; the handicap sheet indicated about 20 full members and 40 seniors.  The honesty tray of used golf balls for 20p was a clear indicator.
I fear its time is short and the local golfers will have to drive to the next town 10 minutes up the road to play.  A shame really as it is a lovely wee course, and once it's gone, the kids who grow up there will be much less likely to take up golf.  The primary school is right next to the clubhouse.  Perhaps they will keep two or three holes even if the club folds?  One can hope.
I wish I had been there on a busier day to meet some of the members and hear what it means to them.


9-holes, links terrain, few houses about? Primary school next to the Clubhouse?
Would the course/Club happen to be - Tarbat GC at Portmahomack?
atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on January 31, 2020, 03:26:09 AM

We played Shiskine followed by two or three very basic 9-holers which exuded plenty of rustic charm and not a little quirk. We encountered a few members at each - none of whom appeared to be under the age of 75. The lady selling green fees at the 18 hole 4000 yard Whiting Bay GC told us that she had been doing the job for 60 years but had yet to climb the steep 1st hole for a proper look at the course, never mind play it!

Such clubs and courses are in a time warp. One feels as if one is stepping back to the 1950s. Of course, in a busy tourist area such as Arran this is a selling point to golf nerds like those of us on this site and survival is conceivable. In less touristy areas of the mainland I am sure it is another story.

Much as I enjoyed the little clubs and courses on Arran if I was a resident of the island or a regular visitor the only club I would consider joining is Shiskine - even if it meant a 30 minute journey every time I wanted to play golf. I suspect therein lies much of the problem. Increased mobility has expanded the catchment areas of the better quality courses, leaving the rustic local courses struggling for business.

I can't imagine any keen Arran golfer in his 30s, 40s or 50s being happy playing his regular golf at Corrie or Whiting Bay when Shiskine is a shortish drive away. This mindset does not bode well for smaller shoestring clubs anywhere.

Indeed. It's not like Shikine is a good course either. There are more dull holes than good ones. It's the setting and 12 holes which are the selling points. For many locals that wouldn't mean much.

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on January 31, 2020, 06:55:11 AM
I think Shiskine is better than that. The first couple of holes and the last hole are the only ones I considered remotely “dull”.


Shiskine put a smile on my face, and more importantly, Jayne’s. I’m pretty sure it would continue to do so with repeated play. It also reinforced my long held view that twelve holes is not only enough, but perfect.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on January 31, 2020, 08:15:10 AM
I have hardened up to the fact it is no longer sad that a golf course is closing.


There are too many so some must close.


Those closing make the others around it stronger.


Not when golfers continue to give the game up.



I recall reading figures recently that showed the number of active golfers in Scotland had remained stable with just a small reduction in numbers compared to the previous year but that the fall in golfers who were club members continued showing there was no switch across. In England the number of golfers had actually increased which surprised me.
I think it is back to the how many rounds do you have to play to be a golfer and of course there is no definitive.
There is a distinct pattern though from
eager player to give up/rarely play


 = a member of a golf club
play for x years get better/ decent handicap/ win competitions


THEN COMES AN EVENT that changes your lifestyle...say a baby but it could be moving jobs, location lots of different reasons non golfing.  YOU FIND THAT YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO PLAY AS MUCH so you stop being a member.


When you play you dont play as well so you dont enjoy it and if you dont enjoy it you dont crave further golf.


YOU ARE STILL A GOLFER BUT you might only play once a year.


STILL AS MANY GOLFERS but distortion of the amount of rounds golfers once played and deep down that is the important figure.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on January 31, 2020, 08:59:48 AM
I believe the threshold was once a month for non member golfers.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on January 31, 2020, 10:11:43 AM
To check out this thesis, today I stopped in at a small town club in Scotland which I'd never seen in my travels.  (I had only got to about 10km away before.)


They have nine holes of rugged links terrain with a few houses about.  The locker room had 14 lockers; the handicap sheet indicated about 20 full members and 40 seniors.  The honesty tray of used golf balls for 20p was a clear indicator.


I fear its time is short and the local golfers will have to drive to the next town 10 minutes up the road to play.  A shame really as it is a lovely wee course, and once it's gone, the kids who grow up there will be much less likely to take up golf.  The primary school is right next to the clubhouse.  Perhaps they will keep two or three holes even if the club folds?  One can hope.


I wish I had been there on a busier day to meet some of the members and hear what it means to them.

Tom

Without knowing which club/course you are referring to, I'd be happy to have a wager with you that this particular club/course will still be there in 5 years time. Once you get out of the central belt in Scotland, an awful lot of clubs are modest in scale and even more modest in budget. That's their normal MO.

Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on January 31, 2020, 11:02:27 AM
I believe the threshold was once a month for non member golfers.
I don't think there is any rule as such. I consider myself a golfer and I play about 8 times a year, I got lots of mates than play perhaps twice a year they say they play golf.
I just did the playing stats for our course.


26% of our members played less than 28 times
less than 1% of or members played over 100 times
almost 2% never played once!
The main number range is 30-45 times


Quite a lot of people think if they only played 30 times they did not get their value from their membership.


All stats can be twisted but I think the main big minus is there are not as many rounds of golf played than previous years and that statistic is growing. If you are a member it is because you want to play lots, if your not a member then by and large you dont get value as you dont play enough. The gap between the membership and nomadic is widening to the Nomads though.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Tom_Doak on January 31, 2020, 11:06:09 AM


I think it is back to the how many rounds do you have to play to be a golfer and of course there is no definitive.
There is a distinct pattern though from
eager player to give up/rarely play


 = a member of a golf club
play for x years get better/ decent handicap/ win competitions


THEN COMES AN EVENT that changes your lifestyle...say a baby but it could be moving jobs, location lots of different reasons non golfing.  YOU FIND THAT YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO PLAY AS MUCH so you stop being a member.


When you play you dont play as well so you dont enjoy it and if you dont enjoy it you dont crave further golf.


YOU ARE STILL A GOLFER BUT you might only play once a year.


STILL AS MANY GOLFERS but distortion of the amount of rounds golfers once played and deep down that is the important figure.


For many, the EVENT is that they can no longer afford to play so much.


The problem is, too many in the golf business don't care about that.  The business-focused goal is to increase total revenue, but they don't care how.  They don't care if they drive away a lot of lifelong golfers, as long as there are enough people who will pay 3x as much that they come out ahead.  This may be good for their bottom line, but it is killing the sport.


P.S. to Niall:  I hope you are right about the little course I saw.  I tried to think through the numbers and could not see how it would work except on a purely volunteer-labor maintenance operation, but I'm told they actually still have a greenkeeper, at least part-time.  Bless him for fighting the good fight.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: David_Tepper on January 31, 2020, 12:32:24 PM
Loch Ness GC in Inverness to close:

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/inverness/1990041/anger-over-lack-of-consultation-as-18-hole-golf-course-in-inverness-to-close-due-to-continued-losses/ (https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/inverness/1990041/anger-over-lack-of-consultation-as-18-hole-golf-course-in-inverness-to-close-due-to-continued-losses/)
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on January 31, 2020, 12:49:03 PM
I believe the threshold was once a month for non member golfers.

I don't think there is any rule as such.


It was the threshold that the study I referred to set for someone to be counted as 'a golfer' but not a member.


DT,


no big shock about Fairways Inverness (Lochness) as it has been a rumour around these parts for the last couple of years. The owners have spent next to nothing on the course in the last two years due to this and I would expect to see the planning application for housing on it by the summer.


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on January 31, 2020, 01:05:11 PM
Smaller rural courses all over the UK have long operated on a semi-volunteer, limited staff, low expectations, small clubhouse basis and as long as the semi-volunteers are prepared to carry on helping out many will most likely continue to do so.
I would suggest however, that their location and especially their soil type is critical. If they are built on sand or are generally free-draining where less maintenance in comparison to a parkland course is necessary, even if this requires seasonal animal grazing, they have a better chance of survival particularly if the members are prepared to keep their golfing expectations low and avoid acquiring ideas and airs and graces above what they can sensibly handle.

atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on January 31, 2020, 01:13:12 PM


I think it is back to the how many rounds do you have to play to be a golfer and of course there is no definitive.
There is a distinct pattern though from
eager player to give up/rarely play


 = a member of a golf club
play for x years get better/ decent handicap/ win competitions


THEN COMES AN EVENT that changes your lifestyle...say a baby but it could be moving jobs, location lots of different reasons non golfing.  YOU FIND THAT YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO PLAY AS MUCH so you stop being a member.


When you play you dont play as well so you dont enjoy it and if you dont enjoy it you dont crave further golf.


YOU ARE STILL A GOLFER BUT you might only play once a year.


STILL AS MANY GOLFERS but distortion of the amount of rounds golfers once played and deep down that is the important figure.


For many, the EVENT is that they can no longer afford to play so much.


The problem is, too many in the golf business don't care about that.  The business-focused goal is to increase total revenue, but they don't care how.  They don't care if they drive away a lot of lifelong golfers, as long as there are enough people who will pay 3x as much that they come out ahead.  This may be good for their bottom line, but it is killing the sport.


P.S. to Niall:  I hope you are right about the little course I saw.  I tried to think through the numbers and could not see how it would work except on a purely volunteer-labor maintenance operation, but I'm told they actually still have a greenkeeper, at least part-time.  Bless him for fighting the good fight.
Tom- In the UK golf is still very cheap as you know, but time is the big killer. If you have a young family its very hard to justify the time to golf as a member (weekly golfer). Most golfers at some stage end up with young families. I don't think its the price in the UK but there also are a lot more distractions these days than in the 70s or 80s. SKY TV eats a lot of some peoples time, internet, a lot more have weekend breaks and all eat into those 52 weekends which dont make membership golf so appealing. A round is 4hrs 15 mins, it used to be 3 hours. Quite a big factor.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on January 31, 2020, 01:46:31 PM
I think many in the golf industry are incorrectly/unjustly driving themselves crazy in trying to slow/end the rates of attrition in golf, which in my estimation is almost entirely out of their hands.

Demands from family and work are the old mainstays and old guys have always died off, but the biggest changes in the last 2 decades is the onslaught of competition from TV, Gaming, and Internet related applications and diversions for ones leisure team... that often cost far less and don't require a 4-5 hour time commitment per whack.  Yes it sucks, but people need to give themselves a break.  A lot of courses have closed, and a helluva lot more will probably follow suit...
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on January 31, 2020, 02:15:29 PM
In the UK golf is still very cheap as you know, but time is the big killer. If you have a young family its very hard to justify the time to golf as a member (weekly golfer). Most golfers at some stage end up with young families. I don't think its the price in the UK but there also are a lot more distractions these days than in the 70s or 80s. SKY TV eats a lot of some peoples time, internet, a lot more have weekend breaks and all eat into those 52 weekends which dont make membership golf so appealing. A round is 4hrs 15 mins, it used to be 3 hours. Quite a big factor.


Time to play isn’t just a factor for the younger generations either.
I regularly see older folks not want to spend 4+ hrs walking, especially if it’s cold or very warm, the more so if the pace of play is slow. 3+ hrs often seems to be enough for them, and they’ll walk in irrespective of how many holes they’ve played.
Atb

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on January 31, 2020, 11:55:09 PM


Time to play isn’t just a factor for the younger generations either.
I regularly see older folks not want to spend 4+ hrs walking, especially if it’s cold or very warm, the more so if the pace of play is slow. 3+ hrs often seems to be enough for them, and they’ll walk in irrespective of how many holes they’ve played.
Atb


At Cavendish all winter comps and roll-ups are played over 13 holes, generally missing out the loop 9-13. A bracing two and a half hours in the hills is more than enough for even the hardiest soul.


There is a palpable sigh from senior members when play reverts to a full 18 holes in March...
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on February 01, 2020, 07:11:09 AM
Tom


I can think of a number of clubs/courses that I came across when I worked up in Moray that had small memberships and minimal greenkeeping staff.


They used to say that Spey Bay would close as soon as the ancient gang mower they used eventually packed in and at that time they didn't have a full time greenkeeper, it was someone who looked after the course a few evenings a week. Back then (8 or 9 years ago) the clubhouse comprised a basic timber building with toilets and basic changing area and greenfees were put into an honesty box. The last I heard the "clubhouse" had been tarted up and now there was a cafe of sorts in there and it was now manned at peak times. I doubt they have any more than one greenkeeper.


Across the mouth of the Spey is the Garmouth & Kington course with another very basic clubhouse that was unstaffed other than peak times like weekends. I don't know for sure but suspect it didn't have a full time greenkeeper either.


Likewise Keith with its 150 members. They owned the land the course was on but rented the clubhouse from the Council for a couple of thousand pounds a year. They had 1 greenkeeper.


Wick had one greenkeeper who was helped out occasionally by his dad and pals on a kind of artisan basis. Even Fraserburgh had only 2 greenkeepers plus an additional greenkeeper on a seasonal basis and they had two courses. You could probably so something similar about most clubs/courses outwith the main conurbations.


I would think that places like RDGC, Nairn and Castle Stuart are actually the exception rather than the rule. What I think keeps these places (ie. the likes of Keith and not Castle Stuart) going is a sense of ownership with the members volunteering their time and effort when required. That sense of ownership seems to be getting eroded these days with the bigger clubs which is why I think more than a few of them are in trouble.


Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on February 01, 2020, 07:20:16 AM
Can I also add that, notwithstanding the possible closure of various courses, that the title of this thread is alarmist nonsense. Golf in Scotland is changing but it's not disappearing in the way the title suggests. Some of those changes will inevitably lead to course closures but as someone else said, their has always been course closures and indeed Harry Ward wrote a book about it.


Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on February 01, 2020, 07:44:18 PM
In the UK golf is still very cheap as you know


I just do not understand how anyone could call golf in the UK cheap .... baffling.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on February 02, 2020, 01:19:03 AM
In the UK golf is still very cheap as you know


I just do not understand how anyone could call golf in the UK cheap .... baffling.


I guess this is what Adrian means;


https://www.golfnow.co.uk/tee-times/courses-near-me#date=Feb+06+2020 (https://www.golfnow.co.uk/tee-times/courses-near-me#date=Feb+06+2020)


Similar prices are to found in most parts of the UK. Clubs selling golf at under £15 a round must be unsustainable in the long run. It is no wonder that fewer people are joining clubs when casual golf is available at such a low price.


It's not just crappy courses either. I could play Stonehaven today at 12.12pm for £15 on a "Hot Deal". The club gets none of that money as it is taken by GolfNow towards payment for the BRS tee-booking system.


The ubiquity of GolfNow makes it simple for golfers to compare prices across clubs, driving down green fees generally in a race to the bottom. The elite clubs have been immune to this for a while, but for how long?


I am already seeing the posher clubs in my area offering big discounts to all-comers on GolfNow and advertising membership deals on Facebook. These are clubs which twenty years ago operated a "dead man's shoes" membership policy and would only allow visitor play as a member's guest.


There is definitely a cultural shift happening away from club membership towards small informal groups of friends who play among themselves regularly at different courses and communicate easily via WhatsApp or similar. These guys have no desire to commit to membership at one club or to play in competitions and acquire an official handicap. A cheap green fee and a fiver side bet with their mates followed by a couple of pints and a plate of chips is their way of playing golf.


It's difficult to knock it from their point of view but it doesn't help the traditional golf club model.





 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on February 02, 2020, 04:07:25 AM

Duncan,


you are spot on. The effect that Golfnow would have should have been obvious to anyone who looked at it. The fact that most clubs did not have the finance nor the knowhow to set up their own booking sites was also obvious. This is where the golfing unions who are supposed to be representing the best interests of their members should have stepped in and done this country wide.


It would be possible to reverse this even now but it seems that even the few schemes set up are not pushed which is a shame. I do wonder what is the reason why a club is a member of a union these days?


Jon
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ulrich Mayring on February 02, 2020, 06:41:29 AM
I've just looked at the Golf Now chart. These are certainly great prices and I suppose they prove that golf clubs have a huge profit margin at regular prices, if they can go so low without losing money. Certainly, in most countries many would take up the game at those prices.

Ulrich
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on February 02, 2020, 07:25:21 AM
In the UK golf is still very cheap as you know


I just do not understand how anyone could call golf in the UK cheap .... baffling.
You obviously struggle with basic maths and business sense. The Scots pay about £500 a year for golf. In England it is nearer £1000 for similar standard annual membership golf. The minimum wage is £8.72 in both places from April 1st this year. The cost of fuel is the same, the cost of machines is the same, the chemicals cost the same....So in ABC terms the Scots have priced their product too cheaply and now reap what they have sown... Scottish Clubs are closing fastest.


The Scottish model is unsustainable and the young scots have less interest in the game.



In Global terms £1000 per year for an English golf subscription is still very low.


Where do you think the money comes from to pay wages, chemicals, fuel, machinery repairs?


That is before energy costs, rents, perhaps rates. Our run cost is c£800,000 so £20 per round if we do 40,000 rounds...if I price at £15 I am a fool. But here is the big point most courses do nearer 20,000 rounds!!!!


i expect you are likely to still be baffled.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on February 02, 2020, 07:30:31 AM
I've just looked at the Golf Now chart. These are certainly great prices and I suppose they prove that golf clubs have a huge profit margin at regular prices, if they can go so low without losing money. Certainly, in most countries many would take up the game at those prices.

Ulrich



No Ulrich,


what it shows is that many running clubs have as little grasp about the cost of running a golf course as you do. I am sorry if this upsets you but it had to be said.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on February 02, 2020, 07:39:54 AM
I've just looked at the Golf Now chart. These are certainly great prices and I suppose they prove that golf clubs have a huge profit margin at regular prices, if they can go so low without losing money. Certainly, in most countries many would take up the game at those prices.

Ulrich

Well said Mr W. and it does need to be said because their are a lot on here with their heads burried. If we have unsustainable rates on shops we will have no shops. If we tax beer too high we will have no pubs. The world is full of idiots and many are still in government.


No Ulrich,


what it shows is that many running clubs have as little grasp about the cost of running a golf course as you do. I am sorry if this upsets you but it had to be said.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on February 02, 2020, 07:50:57 AM
Adrian


While I agree with your point that golf in Scotland is generally cheaper than some parts down south, and perhaps a lot cheaper than other places in the world, IMO the real barometer should be whether these clubs/courses are still paying the bills. In an earlier post I listed a number of clubs/courses that operate on a shoestring and always have done. Somehow they manage to keep things going by cutting their cloth to suit.


In recent years there was mention of Beith GC closing down but subsequently the members decided to carry on with 9 holes rather than 18. Maybe we will see more of that.


Niall


ps. some of the courses I refer to above might in the £400/£500 a year bracket, or even less, but most courses in the central belt and around Aberdeen and Dundee will be about £800 to £1,000 and even more I'd have thought.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Lou_Duran on February 02, 2020, 11:04:38 AM
I've just looked at the Golf Now chart. These are certainly great prices and I suppose they prove that golf clubs have a huge profit margin at regular prices, if they can go so low without losing money. Certainly, in most countries many would take up the game at those prices.

Ulrich




No Ulrich,


what it shows is that many running clubs have as little grasp about the cost of running a golf course as you do. I am sorry if this upsets you but it had to be said.


Jon,  I think you are wrong in your assessment as well.  My bet is that the subject clubs know their costs very well and, to borrow Niall's wonderful prose, cut "their cloth to suit".  Unfortunately, being starved for funds and not being able to affect the revenue line to the same degree, some are having to price their rounds below replacement cost. 


It is simple economics, as long as they cover variable costs in the short and medium run, they can stay afloat.  Eventually, because of competitive reaction (aggressive pricing) and deferred maintenance, operating expenses exceed revenues and some courses shut down.  As long as # of rounds played (demand) don't decline faster than # of rounds available (supply), things self-correct to some extent, but not without substantial pain to those affected.


Golf Now simply makes pricing more clear, which is probably a bane to operators, but a boon to consumers.  it likely speeds up the process.  Golf in a larger sense benefits by more comparable pricing as suggested by similar experiences in technology (mobile phones, cable and streaming content, e-commerce). 
 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: PPallotta on February 02, 2020, 12:11:56 PM
A basic/simplistic question for the Scots:

Is golf now, and/or has it ever been, Scotland's 'national sport' - or even close to it in any meaningful sense?

Growing up in Toronto/Canada, and from what I can tell still to this day, the reality of hockey being our 'national sport' is expressed constantly and in various ways:

Homemade ice rinks in backyards and local parks; pick up games with old & young and experts & beginners joining in, and with a couple of sets of water bottles serving as goal posts; every new/used sports equipment store chock-full of skates and sticks and pads and helmets; many many leagues (for different skill levels) available to join, and every second friend playing competitively in one of those leagues; hundreds and thousands of broken down 40 and 50 year olds trudging out late at night to local arenas with hockey bags over the shoulders for their weekly men's league (or women's league, or mixed league, or musicians' league) game, which they take very seriously; and most strikingly, street hockey games on dead ends and suburban neighbourhouds all over town -- and throughout the entire year: played in boots during the winter, in running shoes or roller blades during the summer and fall.

Hockey is (or can be, if played seriously and competitively) an expensive sport, and participation rates (from what I read) are indeed dropping, as kids play more soccer and basketball etc. BUT: the 'infrastructure' (rinks and leagues and volunteers etc) is so strong, and the love of the game and its history in (and meaning for) Canadian kids is so well established, that hockey is alive and well here, and I suppose can still be considered our 'national sport'.

Is that something akin to (or instead not at all like) golf in Scotland?

Thanks for any insights. I've often wondered about that but never asked it before.
   


 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on February 02, 2020, 12:16:39 PM
Lou,


Basic economics dictates that the market price of anything is a function of supply and demand. This is as true of rounds of golf as it is of hotel rooms or airline tickets - anything that has a finite lifespan - once that timeslot has passed the commodity ceases to exist whether it has been purchased or not.


Intermediary platforms such as GolfNow provide a great service to end users by allowing easy comparison of prices between multiple suppliers. There is also a great potential advantage to golf clubs being on such a site because it increases exposure and allows clubs to offer difficult to sell tee times at attractive rates.


Unfortunately, too many clubs do not understand how to utilise GolfNow to their advantage; instead they pitch their rack-rate too low and then discount it further - not on a targeted basis, but generally throughout the week.


The most dangerous mindset is "any green fee is better than none". This results in the lowering of prices to levels below that which golf costs to supply. In turn this lowers the perceived value of a round of golf at that particular course and means that the club will struggle ever to obtain the full green fee from a visitor again. A full green fee that was already pitched too low!


Even worse, longstanding members who are paying £1000 per year and playing less than 50 rounds see one-off visitors being able to play for £15. The value of their membership is brought into question and member retention becomes increasingly difficult.


Supply and demand will always be the main driver of prices. Supply however, is something clubs have control of yet all too often fail to exercise. Instead of offering all that day's available tee times on GolfNow just offer 3 or 4. If those sell offer a couple more. That way the supply:demand ratio is managed and prices kept high.


In my view this is what the club pro should be responsible for on a day to day, hour by hour basis. Incentivise him accordingly to make the club's profitability more attractive to him than simply selling Mars Bars.


Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on February 02, 2020, 12:38:02 PM
A basic/simplistic question for the Scots:

Is golf now, and/or has it ever been, Scotland's 'national sport' - or even close to it in any meaningful sense?

Growing up in Toronto/Canada, and from what I can tell still to this day, the reality of hockey being our 'national sport' is expressed constantly and in various ways:

Homemade ice rinks in backyards and local parks; pick up games with old & young and experts & beginners joining in, and with a couple of sets of water bottles serving as goal posts; every new/used sports equipment store chock-full of skates and sticks and pads and helmets; many many leagues (for different skill levels) available to join, and every second friend playing competitively in one of those leagues; hundreds and thousands of broken down 40 and 50 year olds trudging out late at night to local arenas with hockey bags over the shoulders for their weekly men's league (or women's league, or mixed league, or musicians' league) game, which they take very seriously; and most strikingly, street hockey games on dead ends and suburban neighbourhouds all over town -- and throughout the entire year: played in boots during the winter, in running shoes or roller blades during the summer and fall.

Hockey is (or can be, if played seriously and competitively) an expensive sport, and participation rates (from what I read) are indeed dropping, as kids play more soccer and basketball etc. BUT: the 'infrastructure' (rinks and leagues and volunteers etc) is so strong, and the love of the game and its history in (and meaning for) Canadian kids is so well established, that hockey is alive and well here, and I suppose can still be considered our 'national sport'.

Is that something akin to (or instead not at all like) golf in Scotland?

Thanks for any insights. I've often wondered about that but never asked it before.

This is a great comparison Pietro. Even though I was raised in a hockey mad area I always knew that across the river it was mad 10 fold. I reckon that if Canadians ever stopped taking the amateur level seriously as in junior hockey feeding all the way up World Juniors then the hockey would begin to be under serious threat in terms of Canada's game. Every year like clock work I am surprised anew how much the world juniors means in Canada. From my experience, no, golf isn't the of the same level of importance in Scotland as hockey is in Canada.

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: David_Tepper on February 02, 2020, 01:34:03 PM
To inject a new (and possibly obtuse ;) ) angle to this discussion, I wonder if the failure of Scotland to produce a golfer (either man or woman) in the past 20 years capable of competing at the very highest level of the game has contributed in some way to the decline of golf there.

Currently Robert Macintyre (at #65) is the only Scot in the top 100 in the world in the men's rankings. There is not a single Scottish women in the top 100.

I firmly believe that having sporting heroes and champions does create interest in a sport at the youth and grassroots levels and can contribute significantly to the growth of that sport.  Why Scotland has failed in golf is a mystery to me.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Lou_Duran on February 02, 2020, 04:16:36 PM
David,


A way to evaluate your wondering is to compare and contrast the golf economies of other areas/countries which have produced the high level golfers you allude to.  The British Isles probably is a good laboratory as England and Ireland with a similar historically strong golf culture have borned a number of the world's finest golfers.  Taking into account economic differences, are courses in the rest of the BI doing that much better than Scotland's?


I agree with your last paragraph.  Tiger Woods brought a lot of previously non-golfers into the game and he continues to be one of the best draws in any sport.  I don't know to what extent the new golfers enhance the culture or whether they sustain the game as in the past (I know operators who much prefer organic growth, but that's another topic).


Duncan,


You are absolutely right about supply and demand.  I don't know anything outside of what I read in these pages about Golf Now and the opinions vary considerably- some think it is the devil's work enticing owners and managers to do crazy things against their interests; others believe that it entices incremental play, at least in the number of rounds if not total revenues, while bringing new people into the game.


BTW, I came to the game reluctantly, only because my buddies talked me into going with them to a very cheap daily-fee course.  It only took one round to lure me in.  Perhaps I am the exception, but I got to believe there are many potential golfers out there not too different than me.


Golf Now may not be used optimally by the trade, but dynamic pricing seems to be rather common.  Like with any other consumer product, one has to be careful/selective with its use so as not to cannibalize higher value rounds.  Me, I guess I have a lot more faith in how people with skin in the game run their business- I talk to a lot of golfers, many who believe that they know more about golf operations and maintenance than the professionals who are paid to run the golf courses. ::)


Years ago Ron Whitten wrote an article in Golf Digest about how golf was becoming like the pizza business.  I can't find the article nor the thread on this site, but there was a lot of good stuff in both that have some relevance to this thread.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ulrich Mayring on February 02, 2020, 04:30:30 PM
Jon,

to me it sounds slightly over-reaching to stipulate that all Scottish clubs that offer greenfee discounts have no clue about their running costs. I'm sure you're right about a few, but I'm also sure you haven't actually checked all their books, but that you are somehow extrapolating from your personal experiences to the rest of the world. But other businesses might be run differently than yours or under different conditions.

Also, if you are running a business, then you almost certainly know the difference between fixed and variable costs. As the term "fixed costs" implies, you have to pay your greenkeeper etc. the same amount of money whether someone shows up to play or not. The interesting part in terms of greenfee discounts is the variable cost you incur, if one additional round is played. Many golf clubs treat that number as near zero, which in their view makes a $15 greenfee viable.

Of course this is not the whole story. Variable costs are tricky and to a certain extent subject to definition. And there are strategic problems such as devaluation of membership or reluctance to pay the full rate in peak times. So I totally agree with you that it could be a very bad idea to offer greenfee discounts for any number of reasons. But to say that everyone, who does it, is incompetent and doesn't know their running costs, seems quite overbearing to me. In fact, I would argue that those offering greenfee discounts do it in large part because of the pressure of running costs, i. e. they know exactly how high they are!

Maybe they simply need liquidity fast to pay some bills. Or they define their variable cost of a round of golf differently than you define yours. There is a lot of room for variance before we have to resort to incompetence as the only explanation.

Ulrich
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: PPallotta on February 02, 2020, 04:57:31 PM
David T
I was alluding to that with my reference to the 'infrastructure' and Sean made explicit it in mentioning junior hockey & the well run organizations that support it, ie:

Each and every year, year in and year out, Canada's hockey infrastructure produces (even now, with the growth in U.S. and European hockey) significantly more good hockey players and gets more of them to the NHL than does any other country in the world -- and every few years it also produces the kind of stars and superstars that youngsters look up to and that (no doubt, it seems to me) spur on grass-roots participation, thus further strengthening (and financially supporting) that infrastructure.

But: whether that 'virtuous circle' is the *cause* of hockey being (and continuing to be) Canada's 'national game' or instead its *result* I don't know. A little of both, I suppose.

Which is why I was asking how Scots see the game of golf today, in their own country, i.e. because that virtuous circle of a healthy infrastructure/ecosystem producing stars who in turn enhance participation rates and thus further strengthen that infrastructure seems based -- in part at least -- on a game (hockey or golf) *already* being embraced as the 'national one'.

P           
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on February 02, 2020, 08:45:26 PM
It's difficult to knock it from their point of view but it doesn't help the traditional golf club model.


But its also the price of clubs, balls etc etc.


Against other sports, its way out of kilter.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on February 02, 2020, 08:49:23 PM
To inject a new (and possibly obtuse ;) ) angle to this discussion, I wonder if the failure of Scotland to produce a golfer (either man or woman) in the past 20 years capable of competing at the very highest level of the game has contributed in some way to the decline of golf there.


All the tennis clubs that I know are doing very well, which I think has a lot to do with Andy Murray.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on February 03, 2020, 12:18:16 AM
It's difficult to knock it from their point of view but it doesn't help the traditional golf club model.


But its also the price of clubs, balls etc etc.


Against other sports, its way out of kilter.


Clubs don’t have to cost a lot of money. This is an entertaining video where a PGA pro buys a set of charity shop clubs together with a bag and balls for under £25 and proceeds to play a round of golf with them...


https://youtu.be/NrmZ1v_N0ns (https://youtu.be/NrmZ1v_N0ns)
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Bernie Bell on February 03, 2020, 11:25:14 AM
So some say golf in Scotland too expensive for the average citizen.  Others say golf is too inexpensive for the clubs to sustain themselves.  Can both be true?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: David_Tepper on February 03, 2020, 12:28:16 PM
A way to evaluate your wondering is to compare and contrast the golf economies of other areas/countries which have produced the high level golfers you allude to.  The British Isles probably is a good laboratory as England and Ireland with a similar historically strong golf culture have borned a number of the world's finest golfers.  Taking into account economic differences, are courses in the rest of the BI doing that much better than Scotland's?

Lou D. -

Since there are no 10-page threads currently running here bemoaning the state of golf in Ireland or England, that admittedly anecdotal evidence might imply golf there is healthier than golf in Scotland. ;)

Scotland has a population of 5.4 million. The total population of Ireland is 6.7 million. So far this century 5 male Irish golfers have won a total of 10 majors, while Scottish golfers have not won any. While I am the first to admit coincidence is not causation. the difference is striking.

DT 

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Lou_Duran on February 03, 2020, 02:31:55 PM
So some say golf in Scotland too expensive for the average citizen.  Others say golf is too inexpensive for the clubs to sustain themselves.  Can both be true?


If both hold, then perhaps the good folks in Scotland better pray/hope for a continued good economy in America.  I refuse to pay the £200+ fees to the big names, but very much enjoy the Boras, Golspies, and Buda venues.  Hopefully there are sufficient visitors to this level of golf to help out our less-advantaged/more frugal Scottish friends.


David,


You mean that the recent armadillo attack of biblical proportions at my home course might be a coincidence and not the result of climate change? ;)


Surely there is a Steve Shaffer in the British Isles which keeps track of course closings over there.  It would be an interesting exercise tracking additions and closings, # of rounds played, golf participation percentages, age of the populations and other demographics.  No doubt that heroes are important.  I suspect that cultural disposition (optimistic or morose) and how this is reflected in the creation and use of resources has something to do with it.


There was a humongous Nintendo truck and trailer blocking traffic on my son's streets yesterday as part of a Super Bowl party.  This hazard led to a discussion of how the great leaps in technology have made it an important part of how people spend their time and money.  I hate to think that playing and/or watching video games is supplanting physical activities such as golf, but perhaps it has something to do with it.  I know that the young people playing golf on my home course are seldom away from their phones, seldom talking, but often clicking away.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on February 04, 2020, 03:13:26 AM
It's difficult to knock it from their point of view but it doesn't help the traditional golf club model.


But its also the price of clubs, balls etc etc.


Against other sports, its way out of kilter.
Not sure on the equipment side.  My twins are decent cricketers.  One good enough to still harbour ambitions to play professionally.  By the time he's fully kitted out, the price isn't far short of the cost of his recently acquired set of clubs.  Memberships are less, obviously but after match fees I'm not convinced we spend less on him playing cricket than we do on his golf (he's a U25 member at Crail).  I know racket sports and sports like athletics etc may be different but golf is not alone in being expensive.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on February 04, 2020, 05:54:11 AM
Mark, as Duncan says there is no need to buy expensive clubs, but I think there is huge pressure on Golfers (especially young golfers) nowadays to conform, from Manufacturers, TV, Magazines etc.


How many times have I heard, that if a Pro. is not playing it, then neither should you?


You now have drivers on the market that cost more than your annual membership!


The days that I grew up with, of cut down clubs and howking for golf balls are well and truly over.


I think the never ending cost of playing golf does make it different.

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ryan Coles on February 04, 2020, 06:03:18 AM
I say this not to be provocative, and accept that I’m making a generalisation.


I don’t think large swathes of Scottish Golfers are used to paying their own way for their golf and when called to, baulk at the suggestion.


When they aren’t paying a subsidised rate on the back of greenfee income, or unable to rely on volunteer labour, in some parts, golfers there just don’t seem to attach a market value to a round of golf or club membership.


Full membership and full service facilities can be had for £20 a week, in any part of the UK and in some places less.


Compared to the price of coffee, cinema, smoking, a few frames of snooker, hiring a five a side football court, it’s great value.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on February 04, 2020, 07:48:02 AM
Mark, as Duncan says there is no need to buy expensive clubs, but I think there is huge pressure on Golfers (especially young golfers) nowadays to conform, from Manufacturers, TV, Magazines etc.


How many times have I heard, that if a Pro. is not playing it, then neither should you?


You now have drivers on the market that cost more than your annual membership!


The days that I grew up with, of cut down clubs and howking for golf balls are well and truly over.


I think the never ending cost of playing golf does make it different.
Times change. I went to school 15 miles away on a bus when I was 7. Our School Holidays we had no one look after us, we had the key to the house that was all...today it would be bad parenting.
I paid £15 or my £30 weeks wages to my mother when I was 16 for keep...today suggesting to a kid that at 18 they need to pay £100 a week when they work  gets met with %^&"$!. The kids today!!!!!!
But aside from that, MOST people get 10 years out of their clubs and the equipment is bought before the membership, so I don't think much of the problem with golf is in that. There a a few million sets of clubs in the UK.
Off topic a bit FISHING is having a terrible time and fishing is very very cheap. Not many young ones want to fish. TIME is the reason coupled with the interuptions of the internet, social media and phones. Same main reason inhibiting youngsters for golf.

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on February 04, 2020, 07:55:10 AM
IIRC the title for this thread was derived from an article in a newspaper. The usual headline grabbing stuff that doesn't really stand up to scrutiny. Yes, golf in its present form is struggling to find it's way but it's not "sinking fast". And is Scotland any different to Ireland Wales and England ? I very much doubt it. Other sports are also struggling most notably bowling and even tennis where we've had arguably the best player we've ever had has probably had a net loss of courts over the period.


Where I think the issue is the changing custom and cultures in society as a whole. The volunteer labour that Ryan refers to not only saved money but created a sense of ownership, control and even responsibility. Membership wasn't about market value but about being a member and feeling part of a club. When was the last time anyone spoke to someone who cheerfully told them that they didn't know why they were still a member of the club as they had hardly played in the previous few years ? That was the sort of conversation I used to have quite regularly. Not now.


Money pressures have no doubt played there part but so has a growing culture of pay and play. Golf memberships are becoming more and more like gym memberships and while the accountants (and club general managers) can look to justify some of the flexible membership schemes they have introduced to boost income, a lot of what they have been doing just further undermines the value of membership, and not necessarily just in a monetary sense.


Ryan - the above isn't aimed at you and I didn't take exception to anything you said in your previous post. There was some things I didn't agree with but I think you are getting to the heart of the matter when you touch on membership and the value of membership.


Niall


 




Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on February 04, 2020, 08:00:45 AM
As a tonic to all the doom and gloom, I was entering a golf shop over the weekend and dad was coming out with his two kids and each had a boxed set of clubs under their arms and the dad was smiling having shelled out probably in the region of a couple of hundred quid. In future years those kids may grow up and move away from the game but I bet at some point they will come back to it.


Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ryan Coles on February 04, 2020, 08:48:16 AM
Niall


Undoubtedly. I hate the way our governing bodies refer to ‘customers’.


Customers don’t attend divot evenings, customers don’t try and recruit new members, etc etc, It’s Members that do these things.


A balance between a professionally managed Club and Members ethos is key.


The purely amateur run Club is likely to fall foul of ever increasing red tape and compliance, and dare I say it be outcompeted through inefficiency.


Lose the ethos of a ‘Club’ though and the place can be pretty soulless and a place where everyone consumes, but no one contributes.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Stewart on February 04, 2020, 08:55:34 AM



Compared to the price of ,coffee, cinema, Crossfit,smoking, a few frames of snooker, hiring a five a side football court, it’s great value.



This viewpoint-the great value of golf in the context of other daily activities in the year 2020-is woefully underrepresented amongst the decision makers at many clubs.







Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on February 04, 2020, 12:08:18 PM
Mark, as Duncan says there is no need to buy expensive clubs, but I think there is huge pressure on Golfers (especially young golfers) nowadays to conform, from Manufacturers, TV, Magazines etc.


How many times have I heard, that if a Pro. is not playing it, then neither should you?
For his 21st we bought one of our twins a new set of clubs.  We did the right thing and got him custom fitted.  And he ended up with a reasonably expensive set of clubs.  As I mentioned above, he's a decent sportsman and competitive.  At no point in the entire process did he ask who played what, or give any indication that he cared at all which pros played which clubs.  He was fascinated by the launch monitor data, which is another story but I think we can and often do over-emphasise the power of the brand.  To be quite honest I think the membership of this board probably worries more about what Tiger or Dustbin are playing than the average 20 year old.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on February 08, 2020, 02:52:32 AM
Jon,

to me it sounds slightly over-reaching to stipulate that all Scottish clubs that offer greenfee discounts have no clue about their running costs.



Ulrich,


I whole heartedly agree with you. The thing is what I said was
'what it shows is that many running clubs have as little grasp about the cost of running a golf course as you do'.
The fact that you can read what I wrote and come to the conclusion it means what you wrote kind of proves the point.
Many does not mean all and having 'little grasp' does not mean no clue.
The idea that what ever you get in greenfees is profit is a popular but misguided one. Golf is like any other business in that you have the cost of running the business which has to be covered somehow.
In the case of a classical UK member's club the cost of running the club which includes the course itself is covered by the members fees. This gives the club financial security whilst making the cost of membership directly connected to the cost running the club and the standard of service the club offers. In this case the club is already making a profit before greenfee revenue so to those who do not 'grasp' the costs of running a golf club this means 'greenfees are 100% profit'.
However, a club that does not need greenfee revenue does not need to reduce their greenfee price. This was always the case in the past where the only discounted rates were directly related to membership such as with member's guests.


The minimum price for a greenfee is therefore set by the membership rate usually around the 1:13 to 1:15 ratio. This means if you are asking £300 for your membership you should not go below £20 with your greenfee. By going lower you are not only cheapening the greenfee below the market value set by the membership fee but also cheapening your membership fee value. This in turn means you risk losing any price sensitive members. For a member's club, it is the membership fee payers who are the main source of income.
That in a nutshell is what needs to be understood/grasped about the basic financial model of running a member's club in the UK.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Willie_Dow on February 08, 2020, 03:07:08 PM
Peter Pollotta hits the nail on the head when he says "junior golf is a major ingredient in gtowth"!


Team sports today command the market for the game, whatever it is, in my opinion.  Yet golf is not a "team sport" in Scotland, to my knowledge.


Get going Scotland !

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on February 09, 2020, 03:28:38 AM
Peter Pollotta hits the nail on the head when he says "junior golf is a major ingredient in gtowth"!


Team sports today command the market for the game, whatever it is, in my opinion.  Yet golf is not a "team sport" in Scotland, to my knowledge.


Get going Scotland !



Willie,


it is junior golf and families. Gone are the days when each member of the family did their own thing. Now families do far more activities together and golf clubs need to realise this and offer appropriate membership.

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on February 09, 2020, 03:56:43 AM
Not a lot of space in the busy, busy vehicle invested UK these days for kids to play casual fun sport and develop interests and skills early .... less local parks, too many vehicles for kick-about football or rugby in the road with jumpers for goalposts/try-line, no cricket with a lamppost as the wicket, a let alone playing golf on/alongside/across roads as some may once have done. Lots of screens and keyboards though. Rather sad really.
atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on February 09, 2020, 06:50:22 AM
As a father of sons who have played, variously, cricket, football, rugby and (field) hockey, I'm afraid to say that team sports in the UK are struggling with participation numbers, too.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on February 09, 2020, 07:26:42 AM
As a father of sons who have played, variously, cricket, football, rugby and (field) hockey, I'm afraid to say that team sports in the UK are struggling with participation numbers, too.
CRB checking has played a fair role in reducing youngsters participation in sport. The lovely dads that carted me and my friends around are now frightened that a 13 year old will say "you touched me".
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on February 09, 2020, 07:28:04 AM
It strikes me that team sports are actually struggling more than individual pursuits. The growth areas in sport are cycling and park runs.


People don’t seems to feel the need to “join” things so much these days.


There is sadly also a lot of truth in Adrian’s comment. Junior sport relies on volunteer coaches, referees, and organisers. In today’s world fewer are prepared to get involved.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Tim Martin on February 09, 2020, 07:36:51 AM
It strikes me that team sports are actually struggling more than individual pursuits. The growth areas in sport are cycling and park runs.


People don’t seems to feel the need to “join” things so much these days.


There is sadly also a lot of truth in Adrian’s comment. Junior sport relies on volunteer coaches, referees, and organisers. In today’s world fewer are prepared to get involved.


Running in the park is considered a sport?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on February 09, 2020, 08:22:38 AM
Running in the park is considered a sport?


Hell, snooker and darts are considered sports by many!  🤣
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on February 09, 2020, 12:00:02 PM
Before you judge the current generation too harshly, try to put yourself in thier shoes.

Go wander around outside or engage in one of the nearly countless technological diversions?

I too was a kid before Cable TV, Internet, and Computer games and it was a constant search to find something to keep you occupied, because staying home with Mom and staring at the ceiling was only gonna get you chores and the like.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on February 09, 2020, 12:11:21 PM
Before you judge the current generation too harshly, try to put yourself in thier shoes.

Go wander around outside or engage in one of the nearly countless technological diversions?

I too was a kid before Cable TV, Internet, and Computer games and it was a constant search to find something to keep you occupied, because staying home with Mom and staring at the ceiling was only gonna get you chores and the like.



For kids here in the UK they have been effectively banned from outdoor activity by the parents of our generation. They cannot play out in the streets because house owners use it as a carpark. Where as we were thrown out of the house in the morning and not expected home until dinner most modern kids are not even allowed out in the garden alone 'just in case'. Sport is no long street cricket of pullover football but rather an organised event where people taxi their children to and from it. Even that quintessential childhood right of walking to and from school is no more as the way is not safe because of all the traffic from the school run.


Kids don't have a childhood as we know it any more. One thing that clubs can do however is make playing at their coursea family activity.


Jon

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on February 09, 2020, 01:37:06 PM
Having managed junior cricket teams and captained an Academy side in recent years, some 25 years after running the juniors at a National League hockey club it's the hassle of being CRB checked, rather than the parents which was the issue.  It's just such a faff.  But getting kids to turn out when there are so many distractions and when they have such a sense of entitlement is a real problem.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on February 09, 2020, 02:01:29 PM

Mark,


I agree with the CRB. I have one for the PGA work I do, a second one for Scottish Athletics as a running group leader, then a third for Athletics again for junior coaching. They are in effect the same check of which two are for the same organisation which are to do with the same junior runners. Each one takes time and money to get done. It is just utter madness.


As for the sense of entitlement. I wonder if it is more to do with the fact that kids today are not allowed to get on with their own lives. No walking to school but rather driven by mummy or daddy. No playing out as a group where you have to decide what to do, where and how as well. No amusing yourself with everything being laid on. The entitlement you speak of is not of the kids making but of our generation. We are to blame.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on March 20, 2020, 09:24:05 PM
https://www.bunkered.co.uk/golf-news/new-figures-reveal-full-extent-of-glasgows-muni-problem (https://www.bunkered.co.uk/golf-news/new-figures-reveal-full-extent-of-glasgows-muni-problem)



Investigation sheds new light on Glasgow munis' problems
By Michael McEwan — 20 March, 2020


The number of rounds played on Glasgow’s six council-operated courses fell sharply in the last year – but so too did the investment into the upkeep of the facilities by the local authority.


A bunkered.co.uk investigation has found that between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, the rounds played across the courses – Linn Park, Lethamhill, Littlehill, Knightswood, Ruchill and Alexandra Park – totalled 28,983.


Over the following 12 months, that number fell to 23,207, a reduction of 5,778 rounds and a year-on-year drop of 19.9%.


However, those figures align closely with a decrease in investment by Glasgow City Council in the facilities.


Again, between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, the total expenditure by the local authority in the six courses came to £1,545,636. Within 12 months, that had fallen by over £200,000 to £1,336,514 – a decrease of 13.5% year on year.


Our discoveries come just weeks after the approval of a new budget for the council threw the future of the six courses into fresh doubt.


Whilst no formal announcement has been made, bunkered.co.uk understands that there are plans afoot within the City Chambers for only one of the six courses, the nine-hole Knightswood, to remain under in local government control through the Glasgow Life management subsidiary.


The fate of the other five courses is uncertain, with the very real possibility that all will close or be repurposed if they cannot be sold as going concerns.


The council’s interest in retaining Knightswood is quite obvious. Of the six courses, it enjoys comfortably the most rounds. Indeed, it was the only one that saw an increase in rounds played from 2017-18 to 2018-19, going from 8,745 to 8,900 – an increase of 1.8%. The five other courses under the authority’s control all saw double-digit, year-on-year percentage decreases, most notably Ruchill, where the rounds played more than halved in just 12 months. They fell from 694 to 322.[size=78%] [/size]


As a nine-hole course, Knightswood also occupies a smaller site and, as a consequence, requires less investment than the council’s 18-hole courses: Linn Park, Lethamhill and Littlehill.


For the 2018-19 period, Knightswood cost the authority £182,372. Linn Park required investment of £266,091, with Littlehill and Lethamhill supported to the tune of £294,204 and £300,575.


(https://www.bunkered.co.uk/uploads/site/_articleBodyImage/Rounds-Played-table.jpg)


(https://www.bunkered.co.uk/uploads/site/_articleBodyImage/expenditure.jpg)


Even so, the money spent on Knightswood was markedly less than the investment in the facility during the preceding 12 months, down by 18.8% from £224,724.


A source we spoke to, who declined to be named, said: “Throughout last year’s public consultation into the future of these courses, Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life maintained that the review was necessary because of ‘low usage figures combined with a substantial annual deficit’.


“What they neglected to tell us was the extent to which they had cut their own investment into the maintenance and upkeep of these facilities.


"The similarity between the percentage decrease in rounds played and the percentage decrease in investment tells a very compelling story - if you reduce your investment in public provisions, is it not reasonable to assume that you will reduce their appeal?


“In this instance, it would seem that, rather than the city’s golfers, it is the city council that has been the architect of these courses expected downfall.”

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on March 20, 2020, 10:59:25 PM
Even the most fervent supporter of municipal golf would struggle to make a convincing argument for keeping these courses open.


The best used course has a cost per round played of well over £20. The least used has a cost per round played of £444!


This represents appalling value for money for the Glaswegian council tax payer.


If private operators cannot be found to run the courses at zero cost to the council they must surely close.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on March 23, 2020, 06:42:32 AM
Duncan

When it comes to public sports and museums in Glasgow, golf is but a small part of the empire. With cuts and less money to go round something has to give. Consider also that the Council took the decision many years ago not to charge to get into any of the many museums that it has, and that one of them is currently getting a £60m makeover and it is clear where priorities lie.

That said, it is hard to gauge how many rounds are played when the courses often aren’t manned ! Last year I played Littlehill at 4pm on a midweek summers afternoon and the clubhouse was closed. There was no-one to collect money and I changed in the car park. The course was by no means full but it wasn’t empty either.

I was a little luckier at Lethamhill as I went along at a weekend but again I had to go hunting for someone to issue me a ticket and take my money. (no honesty boxes in Glasgow !) The cost of a round of 18 holes was £12.

I had 2 or 3 goes at trying to play Ruchill but it is securely fenced and access is via a small clubhouse and each time I went it was closed.

Again at Alexandria Park, there was no one there to take money or issue tickets and that was during the day on a summer weekend, so I had a pleasant enough go at the 9 hole course.

I didn’t have any trouble at Knightswood which is the course that is earmarked to stay open. The old clubhouse has been shut down and new temporary cabins provided on the other side of the course with the holes re-numbered. From memory the cost was £7 for the nine hole course. However what the Bunker report doesn’t explain is that the reason for the relocated clubhouse and the fact that it is manned, is that it also serves the new and adjacent BMX park. That is basically why Knightswood is the one that will be retained by the Council.

So to summarise, I attempted to play 5 courses, failed to do so with one of them after several attempts, and didn’t pay for two of the other four. Is it any wonder they are struggling ?

Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Lou_Duran on March 23, 2020, 05:05:27 PM
And you want the government to take over all public transportation and energy in Scotland?  Maybe the government should do long term contracts for nominal monetary consideration with operators such as Jon, providing incentives based on rounds, green fees, and improvements to the courses.  I don't know your country's labor laws, but perhaps such a scheme would require some exemptions.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on April 25, 2020, 03:40:16 AM
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/golf-clubs-fear-worst-in-brutal-situation-of-lockdown-gg5zbkchq



Golf clubs fear worst in ‘brutal situation’ of lockdown
Graham Spiers
Saturday April 25 2020


The crisis looming for Scottish golf clubs is already rearing its ugly head: courses shut, no money coming in, cashflow in abeyance.


With clubs already going out of business across the country, the Covid-19 crisis might only hasten the end for others.


Asked yesterday if he envisaged fatalities, in terms of club closures, David Roy, general manager of the Crail Golfing Society, said: “It will be hugely surprising to me if there aren’t.”


Roy knows he is in quite a privileged position. Golf at Crail has thrived, in a gorgeous Fife setting, with 1,800 members and cash reserves. This well-run club has been able to adjust to the pandemic, but others will not be so fortunate.


“This is a living nightmare for golf clubs less fortunate than ourselves,” Roy said. “Many of them don’t have cash reserves, they were already limping along, just trying to balance their books. And now this [the pandemic] happens, with no-one coming to play their course. These clubs have had the rug pulled from under them and there is no safety net.


“These clubs might have 300 members, a secretary, some greenkeeping staff to pay, maybe some bar staff. But there’s no money: no-one is playing golf or eating in their clubhouse. And if you want to use the government’s furlough scheme, you have to keep paying your staff to get your money back. So you need to have the cash now. It is a brutal situation.”


All across Scotland golf clubs have feared their end. Malcolm Murray, the pro at Brora, openly wondered on Twitter if his club would survive, and has aided Brora’s social-media drive to boost funds. Peebles is already projecting a £50,000-plus loss on visitor income. At Durness, on the very north shelf of the country, they have launched a public appeal. “We are not begging for money but a few new members would certainly help us,” Alistair Morrison, their greenkeeper, said.


Other clubs, like Craigielaw in east Lothian, are desperate to attract new members, and hoping that existing members renew their subs, at a very time when they can offer no golf.


Nor is it just your average club which is suffering. The so-called richer “resort courses” also face a horrendous situation. Courses like Castle Stuart and Kingsbarns, rightly lauded for their beauty, are heavily reliant on visitor income, but hundreds of thousands of pounds this spring and summer will simply disappear. Dumbarnie Links, a fabulous new resort above Lower Largo, could not have chosen a more disastrous time to open next month.


One figure in the Scottish golf industry told me yesterday: “People tend to think of places like Castle Stuart as upmarket and well-heeled and almost immune from the situation. But I’d say, far from it. These resort courses could be facing a hell of a problem with this pandemic. They need the — mainly American — visitor market.”


Nairn, also renowned for its quality and beauty, has just spent a vast sum on course redevelopment over the past 18 months: would the club have done so had they known the pandemic was looming? Even Royal Dornoch, a world-famous attraction, is having to think carefully about its proposed new £5 million clubhouse.


For any golf visitor to the north of Scotland, the Dornoch-Golspie-Brora necklace is an unmissable delight. But Golspie, too, is facing its challenges. The club gathers £55,000 per year in membership fees but, more critically, around £100,000 a year in visitor income. Much of the latter, in the coming months, will be lost.


“It’s very tough,” Alasdair MacDougall, the volunteer treasurer at Golspie, said. “What we are looking at is a whole summer, and now maybe a whole season, of lost visitor income. Psychologically, I think many golf clubs are sort of writing off this year.


“In the main our members have been very supportive, very decent about it. I think we will be OK. I hope, we will survive. We had £100,000 in the bank at the start of the year, and we did hope that sum might help us through the next 20 years. But that is now unlikely.”


With the vague hope that golfers might be able to get out playing again by mid-summer — but with social-distancing rules still applying — Roy envisages a further, dire dilemma for clubs.


“You could have certain rules maybe being relaxed, where golfers can return to the course,” he said. “But it will probably be: no pro shop open, no clubhouse open, no touching of flagpoles etc, so that will almost certainly mean no visitors. This could be a long haul for many clubs, and very damaging. I fear for some of my fellow clubs.”
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on April 25, 2020, 06:04:30 AM
The use of the word "fatalities" in the context of that article is, at best, unfortunate.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Wayne_Kozun on April 26, 2020, 05:24:14 PM
The courses that depend on overseas visitors are really going to be hit as there will be zero of that in 2020 and possibly zero, or very little, in 2021.  Even 2022 might be slow depending on how long it takes for a vaccine to be distributed and people decide to come back to overseas travel.  Once it does return there should be some pent up demand, assuming that anyone still has any money left, so hopefully the courses can hang on.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on April 27, 2020, 03:21:33 AM

There was an interview on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday with Eleanor Cannon and she came across really badly. No comment on the lack of progress in the last two years. She lamented that the Scottish Golf organisation was suffering financially because clubs were not passing on the fees they should. She also refused to answer any questions about why they were trying to find the fourth chief executive during the time she has been the chair or why not only had the chief executive had left but also a further two key personnel had resigned.


It is plain to see why there is such disarray.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: JJShanley on April 28, 2020, 06:45:37 AM
https://www.golfshake.com/news/view/15024/How_to_Turn_Unattached_Golfers_Into_Golf_Club_Members.html (https://www.golfshake.com/news/view/15024/How_to_Turn_Unattached_Golfers_Into_Golf_Club_Members.html)
This article, which I assume includes the UK as a whole rather than just Scotland, came up on my Google recommendations a few days ago. It seems to suggest that golfers viewing themselves as customers, rather than as members, is the way forward. I'm not convinced by that in the long run (or even really in the short term) even if that phenomenon has grown.


The saddest part, I suppose was the following quotation:


"It's massively a cultural thing with a lot of people. I love golf but look round any clubhouse and 90% are 60+, this is a real turn off for joining. Who wants to hang out at multiple events with their parents/grandparents. I don't know how you change this."


Speaking as someone who lost his father a little over a year ago and who would have loved at least one father-son golf vacation (Dad's chronic ill health since the 1990s prevented that), I find this idea quite foreign. My own experience of golf in Scotland and the U.S., while no means extensive, has suggested that among other things (1) golf clubs actually need the interaction of folks of different ages to survive and that (2) it's actually a very healthy thing for all involved and often a thing not found in many places.


My anecdotal cherry picking of this quotation from a website I'd never heard of before Monday doesn't mean that person in question won't shift in their opinion of different generations in due course, but it doesn't strike me as very clubbable.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on April 28, 2020, 08:30:33 AM
Ms Cannon seems to have been receiving a good bit of criticism but am I correct in believing that she's a non-paid Chair/official rather than an SGU paid employee?
atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on April 28, 2020, 09:07:12 AM
I do not believe she gets an official 'wage' but as far as I am aware there is an honorar, expenses and various other perks so I wouldn't worry about her finances. Even if she was doing it for nothing it does not counter the way it is been done.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on April 28, 2020, 10:22:11 AM

There was an interview on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday with Eleanor Cannon and she came across really badly. No comment on the lack of progress in the last two years. She lamented that the Scottish Golf organisation was suffering financially because clubs were not passing on the fees they should. She also refused to answer any questions about why they were trying to find the fourth chief executive during the time she has been the chair or why not only had the chief executive had left but also a further two key personnel had resigned.


It is plain to see why there is such disarray.
Did you pass your fees on or did you decide to keep them in your pocket? Asking for a friend.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on April 28, 2020, 10:34:03 AM
Did you pass your fees on or did you decide to keep them in your pocket? Asking for a friend.


A bit below the belt, Adrian.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on April 28, 2020, 12:39:28 PM

There was an interview on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday with Eleanor Cannon and she came across really badly. No comment on the lack of progress in the last two years. She lamented that the Scottish Golf organisation was suffering financially because clubs were not passing on the fees they should. She also refused to answer any questions about why they were trying to find the fourth chief executive during the time she has been the chair or why not only had the chief executive had left but also a further two key personnel had resigned.



It is plain to see why there is such disarray.

Did you pass your fees on or did you decide to keep them in your pocket? Asking for a friend.



Adrian,



To answer your 'friend's question' ::) When I approached Scottish Golf about being affiliated I was told as a non member's club why would I want to and that there was no voluntary system. They didn't need the money nor want it.


Did the meeting with the sports minister go well. Were you able to get a go ahead for competitive golf at clubs (obviously no spectators)? Oh, and of course for fishing to. I ask for myself as none of my friends give a toss about what you are doing  ;D
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on April 29, 2020, 04:35:39 AM
Jon


There was meant to be an annoucement on Monday gone but it did not happen. Monday May 11th is the date I heard for golf to recommence of golf for England, I have also heard 15th May. Fishing will be the same time along with Bowls and I think Tennis.


Confirmed that if you live or work on a golf course you can play on it.


They cited (after 3 days) that golf is currently not to be played in England under Section 2 schedule of the Covid 19 legislation passed 26th march.(i think)


Social golf only of course with safe distancing.


Are you likely to be making any announcements about your plans for 2020 or 2021?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on April 29, 2020, 02:06:44 PM
Jon


There was meant to be an annoucement on Monday gone but it did not happen. Monday May 11th is the date I heard for golf to recommence of golf for England, I have also heard 15th May. Fishing will be the same time along with Bowls and I think Tennis.





Confirmed that if you live or work on a golf course you can play on it.


They cited (after 3 days) that golf is currently not to be played in England under Section 2 schedule of the Covid 19 legislation passed 26th march.(i think)


Social golf only of course with safe distancing.


Are you likely to be making any announcements about your plans for 2020 or 2021?



I haven't heard any date for Scotland (or England for that matter) but may find out more tomorrow when I partake in the PGA's web-meeting on how golf may go forward. I suspect it will be left to clubs to decide on the size of playing groups but would imagine that copious signing around the course reminding players about social distancing.


I suspect that allowance to play on a golf course is as I mentioned last week to do with ownership and possibly employment though it would be a brave member's club who let the greenkeepers play whilst telling the members they cannot. I would also imagine that if like yourself you are the owner of the club and also live on site then you're fine to play but if you just happen to live in a property that is within the golf course complex then you might not be able to.


As for my course I am in a fortunate position of being a committee of one with a course that has a season of mid April to the end of October. As such I took the decision at the start of this month to put sheep on to the course as a way of bringing in some money and go with planning of there being no golf this year. I am maintain the greens, surrounds and tees but nothing else for the moment. If the opportunity arises I will open up for golfers but at a reduced rate.


I have seen most of my season ticket holders already this spring as most have been coming up once a week for a walk across the course and a chat (at 2 meters distance of course.) I will decide on 2021 when we get there but will leave all options open. All this extra time does give more time to process firewood for next year and rebuild the dry stone wall along the southern boundary.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on May 15, 2020, 03:44:54 AM
https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/local-sport/king-james-vi-golf-club-22021299



King James VI Golf Club taken aback by crowdfunding page generosity
By Matthew Gallagher
14 MAY 2020


(https://i2-prod.dailyrecord.co.uk/incoming/article22021235.ece/ALTERNATES/s810/0_JS211882993.jpg)


The togetherness and spirit shown to fight back against the coronavirus crisis has been heartening for all associated with King James VI Golf Club.


These are tough times for courses across the country with fairways remaining eerily quiet and clubhouse bars absent of cheery - or not so cheery - golfers dissecting their performance.


While the closure of clubs in Scotland has brought unavoidable financial concerns, those with a passion for the game are clubbing together more than ever before.


That is certainly the case at the historic and much-loved King James VI whose successful introduction of a crowdfunding page has left committee members bursting with pride.


The ‘Keeping King Jimmy’ page was started to help alleviate the loss of income and, within 24 hours, more than £4000 had been raised.


Club captain David Angus was taken aback by the generosity and is full of belief that the club will come through this challenging situation stronger.


“Year to year we wash our faces and not much more, to be honest,” Mr Angus said. “We are not rich in reserves, but the history is rich and the membership a tight bunch.


“You don’t know what everyone’s situation is. People may have lost their jobs or will not be getting paid the same. So is it fair to ask them to dip into their pockets?


“We thought the best thing to do was for people to give us what they think they can.


“I’m really buoyant and encouraged by the support we have been getting and the positive messages from the membership about what we are doing.


“We have a website up and running on crowdfunding called Keeping King Jimmy. We started it on Tuesday morning and had a few members putting money in beforehand.


“We were at £1000 when it opened and by Tuesday night at 9pm we had reached more than £4000. Hopefully that figure will keep moving up nicely.


“Everyone has been commenting saying how they feel proud to be part of King James VI.”


An army of volunteers have also been quick to chip in with any required maintenance to keep the course looking fresh, all completed in line with government guidelines.


“There is nothing pretentious about us as a club,” Mr Angus continued. “We are honest, love our golf but also like to socialise. The membership is really close.


“When we first started calling for volunteers people kept coming back to put themselves forward.


“We asked for volunteers to look at the bunkers because they were becoming really weedy.


"There has been great spirit shown, really positive stuff.  When you walk down to the club, it’s looking fresh and nice.”


The playing of golf has resumed in England but, north of the border, clubs continue to wait patiently for the green light.


Mr Angus said: “It’s a pity we can’t get any golf played at the minute, but I think we’re maybe two or three weeks away from that.


“We have a plan in place. It will be going out in twos and you won’t be able to just rock up and play. It will be members only to begin with.


“As soon as we feel we’re safe to handle what we’re being asked to do by the government, we’ll be open and be ready to play golf.


“We will come through this a lot stronger and more together than we’ve ever been before. And we will celebrate that when we get back, I can assure you.”


Visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/keeping-king-jimmy to donate.  In total, more than £7000 has already been donated.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on May 15, 2020, 07:56:05 AM
Crowdfunding and donations and the like brings up another related issue ... membership subscription levels.
Say a Club through the generosity of others (ie non-members) raises £20,000 and say the Club has 400 members.
That £20,000 is the equivalent of £50 per member, or £1 per member per week for a year, which doesn't seem a lot.
Seems like something maybe isn't right with the basis behind the Club subscription levels if this kind of outside funding is required. Even, in the above example, if the Club only had 200 members then £20,000 is only £2 per member per week, which still isn't much.
Just saying.
atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on May 15, 2020, 08:01:24 AM
Crowdfunding and donations and the like brings up another related issue ... membership subscription levels.
Say a Club through the generosity of others (ie non-members) raises £20,000 and say the Club has 400 members.
That £20,000 is the equivalent of £50 per member, or £1 per member per week for a year, which doesn't seem a lot.
Seems like something maybe isn't right with the basis behind the Club subscription levels if this kind of outside funding is required. Even, in the above example, if the Club only had 200 members then £20,000 is only £2 per member per week, which still isn't much.
Just saying.
atb

I have been saying for years that golf membership in the UK is too cheap. Far too many clubs are getting by year to year.

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on May 15, 2020, 08:57:47 AM

Sean,


that is because golf clubs in the UK are historically member's clubs and that is how member's clubs are usually operated regardless of whether it is golf, football, model railways, etc.... The price is where the product and market dictate it should be.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Mammel on May 15, 2020, 09:39:46 AM
That's a key point of difference between UK and US clubs. Most of the great courses in the UK are member's clubs that also allow, and depend on, public play. They have traditionally kept subscriptions low, because locals can't afford to play the high fees that visitors cheerfully fork over. So they end up in a double bind- because country or foreign members almost always pay nearly the same subscription as locals, when they visit they generate food, beverage and shop revenue but no golf fees. Visitors, on the other hand, provide most of the income necessary to run and maintain the club. Of course, neither can visit now and for the foreseeable future (the locals can't play either). I hope the smaller clubs will survive as they are wonderful.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on May 15, 2020, 09:44:39 AM

Sean,

that is because golf clubs in the UK are historically member's clubs and that is how member's clubs are usually operated regardless of whether it is golf, football, model railways, etc.... The price is where the product and market dictate it should be.

It's only been cheap because that is the structure. As the Welsh Wizard points out, if each member was paying 50 quid more a year....maybe clubs are more robust in bad times and maybe they could invest in the course a bit. There were many years of waiting lists when clubs should have stockpiled for the future, but didn't.

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on May 15, 2020, 12:48:53 PM

Sean,


then you understand very little of human nature and how member's club work. If a member's club charges more than they need and build up a reserve it simply burns a hole in their pocket and they end up spending it on a pond with a fountain  ;D


The way clubs seem to moving with the times is instead of asking members to cover the missing coffers they try crowd funding.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Kalen Braley on May 15, 2020, 02:30:00 PM
I would think old fashioned competitive forces kept prices down as well.  Why pay double for the place across town when the one nearby is both more convenient and half the price.


Seems to me, this is just a one-off scenario that few clubs could have reasonably predicted.  Perhaps the onus is on the members to understand how cheap they've had it over the years and dig deeper now to keep the club a going concern.  Then when business as normal is restored, they can go back to fleecing the yanks...
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on May 15, 2020, 03:08:02 PM
I would think old fashioned competitive forces kept prices down as well.  Why pay double for the place across town when the one nearby is both more convenient and half the price.


Seems to me, this is just a one-off scenario that few clubs could have reasonably predicted.  Perhaps the onus is on the members to understand how cheap they've had it over the years and dig deeper now to keep the club a going concern.  Then when business as normal is restored, they can go back to fleecing the yanks...

Ok, I didn't advocate double the dues 🙄. Just 50 quid a year for each member over 20 years adds up for small clubs. Instead, it's been a hand to mouth approach.

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on May 16, 2020, 01:53:39 AM
I would think old fashioned competitive forces kept prices down as well.  Why pay double for the place across town when the one nearby is both more convenient and half the price.




That's like saying why pay more to watch your sports team play a match when there is another offering cheaper seats  ::)
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on May 16, 2020, 02:00:04 AM

Ok, I didn't advocate double the dues 🙄. Just 50 quid a year for each member over 20 years adds up for small clubs. Instead, it's been a hand to mouth approach.

Ciao


That's an attractive premise - If 300 members had paid an extra £50 each for the last 20 years the club would have £300k in the bank as a reserve.


Unfortunately that's not how things tend to work in practice. Money burns a hole in clubs' pockets, and refurbishing the locker room or buying a new carpet for the bar will always be more important to more members than building up reserves for future generations. That's even before we talk about renovating the bunkers or converting the greens to USGA spec!


Most golf club members are over 60 years of age and want to see immediate benefits while they're still around.


Many golf clubs with healthy reserves have benefited at some time from large bequests or from the sale of assets, wisely ring-fencing and investing the money for the future rather than spunking it on a fountain by the 18th green. I doubt if many reserves have built up gradually over time from a surplus on membership subscriptions.


Of course at one time joining fees were a major source of funds which could theoretically be set to one side for contingency purposes.  At the vast majority of clubs however, joining fees are but a distant memory and the very concept elicits looks of disbelief from anyone under the age of 40. They're not coming back any time soon.


The typical local members' golf club runs on a hand-to-mouth basis in which membership income arrives all at once in whichever month that club's subscription year starts. A sizeable amount of that income immediately disappears paying off the bank overdraft which has accumulated over the preceding few months. Another chunk of the subs money is normally "invested" in the course - a short term botch-up repair of the obsolete irrigation system, some extra drainage to fairways particularly prone to flooding etc.


Augmented by a few paltry green fees sold at cut price on GolfNow, your average local club runs out of money halfway through the year and starts running up another overdraft. As the limit with the bank is reached with three months to go before the new subs year cash bonanza, a few of the more financially advantaged members help out by paying their annual fees early. The club just about staggers across the finishing line to be revived by the influx of subscriptions.


Year after year this continues...




...until something completely unexpected happens - like a global pandemic.


Some clubs may well decide that they need to put their subs up. Others may decide to reduce them in the hope that they can attract more members. Inevitably many which have been walking the knife edge of survival for years will go under.


Crowdfunding isn't any kind of solution. All it can do is plug an immediate cash gap allowing a club to reconsider its entire business model. That is what is happening right now at Cavendish. We will emerge from this pandemic in a stronger position than at any time in the last 95 years!






Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on May 16, 2020, 03:39:43 AM
Duncan

Lets hope clubs are more fiscally responsible going forward. Maybe this is where professional managers will help with proper budgeting.

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on May 16, 2020, 03:43:26 AM
Most 18 hole Golf Courses in the UK are run as proper business's now and they understand that there needs to be a cash reserve. I like to run at £300,000 in the bank in the summer, the winters can wipe you out though. It is not easy to build up a reserve some years and tough competition from other clubs pricing can dictate what you charge.


This winter was obviously one of the worst ever so many clubs funds would have been wiped out. Many clubs would have lost members because of the winter. Funds will be at a low level atm.


Northern Clubs are much worse off than the Southern ones, prices are often 60% of the South, yet the run cost with min wage can't be significant cheaper because of government rules.


Basically, we still have too many golf courses. Casualties will be sky high now unless there is a government bail out. Our projected losses are £389,000 for the year to March 2021. We will run out of money between October and December.


Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jeff Schley on May 16, 2020, 04:01:26 AM
You have two ways to "manage" your club's resources if you are falling short.

1. increase revenue2. decrease costs
I don't think most UK clubs are living high on the hog spending frivolously on ostentatious projects are they? Throwing up big clubhouses with bank loans, putting in tennis/pickle ball courts and so forth? I don't even recall seeing a pool at any club I have played. Thus, I would generally surmise they are spending on core services of a golf club, which means decreasing costs isn't realistic.
You know the other option, so is it really taboo to raise your subs for members each year 5-10%? At what % is the club risking losing members? Certainly these are unprecedented times and without reserves/loans/bailouts the members will have to step up tall. Is there not the goodwill built up where a member would pay 400 pounds instead of 300 pounds particularly now?
Or maybe the pensioners would protest that and just give up golf?  I don't know, but interested in the culture of clubs keeping subs bare bones and that expectation.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on May 16, 2020, 04:09:40 AM
Most 18 hole Golf Courses in the UK are run as proper business's now and they understand that there needs to be a cash reserve. I like to run at £300,000 in the bank in the summer, the winters can wipe you out though. It is not easy to build up a reserve some years and tough competition from other clubs pricing can dictate what you charge.


This winter was obviously one of the worst ever so many clubs funds would have been wiped out. Many clubs would have lost members because of the winter. Funds will be at a low level atm.


Northern Clubs are much worse off than the Southern ones, prices are often 60% of the South, yet the run cost with min wage can't be significant cheaper because of government rules.


Basically, we still have too many golf courses. Casualties will be sky high now unless there is a government bail out. Our projected losses are £389,000 for the year to March 2021. We will run out of money between October and December.


Clubs are certainly being run in a more businesslike manner than in days gone by when the Hon Sec came in to sort through correspondence a couple of mornings a week.


Building up reserves is an unrealistic dream for most at the moment though. Minimizing losses and survival are the main concerns.


I do not see any possibility of a government bailout for golf clubs. I am sure that the government will take the view that if a club goes bust the course will still be there, and that another owner will take it over, therefore preserving both the facility and most of the jobs involved. A consortium of affluent members phoenixing the club minus its debts is a likely phenomenon.


If no new owner steps forward to take over the golf course, useful potential building land and/or a public green space will be released. I can see a lot of third tier members' clubs in suburban areas selling up to a developer before the liquidator arrives - whether or not planning permission is in place.


It makes no political or financial sense for the government to bail out loss making golf clubs, whether they be member owned or proprietary.


At Cavendish we would have run out of money in July. Hence the immediate regime change and the launch of the crowdfunding appeal. It seems to be working. Halfway through the appeal we have achieved our initial target and donations continue to flood in. With the rewards on offer many of these are in effect advance payments on green fees or new memberships, but what the heck?  :)
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on May 16, 2020, 04:20:18 AM
How you market a subs increase is important.
In the past the Club I frequent used to announce a % increase and the usual suspects plus a few others would moan and whinge.
This year a different approach was used. It was announced that the subs were going up by '£-x' per week. A nice small looking number, coz it genuinely was a small number, and guess what, no whinges even from the usual suspects, and everyone re-joined even during these difficult Covid-19 times.

As to reserves or even operating costs burning a hole in the committees pocket, ie the use or maybe mis-use of funds, this is where the Clubs constitution or rules or whatever you wish to call them comes in.
Not to agree/disagree any subs increase, but if those in power wish to spend a bunch of money on a fountain or an executive lavatory for the exclusive use of committee members or any project whether it be in the Clubhouse or on the course if 10% of the membership co-sign a request then there has to be an EGM and the spending idea can be bounced and those wishing to undertake it can be bounced out of office. It's never been needed coz those in power know it would occur if they wanted to do something a chunk of the membership don't like.

The above points relate to private members clubs.
atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on May 16, 2020, 04:38:08 AM
Most 18 hole Golf Courses in the UK are run as proper business's now and they understand that there needs to be a cash reserve. I like to run at £300,000 in the bank in the summer, the winters can wipe you out though. It is not easy to build up a reserve some years and tough competition from other clubs pricing can dictate what you charge.


This winter was obviously one of the worst ever so many clubs funds would have been wiped out. Many clubs would have lost members because of the winter. Funds will be at a low level atm.


Northern Clubs are much worse off than the Southern ones, prices are often 60% of the South, yet the run cost with min wage can't be significant cheaper because of government rules.


Basically, we still have too many golf courses. Casualties will be sky high now unless there is a government bail out. Our projected losses are £389,000 for the year to March 2021. We will run out of money between October and December.


Clubs are certainly being run in a more businesslike manner than in days gone by when the Hon Sec came in to sort through correspondence a couple of mornings a week.


Building up reserves is an unrealistic dream for most at the moment though. Minimizing losses and survival are the main concerns.

I do not see any possibility of a government bailout for golf clubs. I am sure that the government will take the view that if a club goes bust the course will still be there, and that another owner will take it over, therefore preserving both the facility and most of the jobs involved. A consortium of affluent members phoenixing the club minus its debts is a likely phenomenon.

If no new owner steps forward to take over the golf course, useful potential building land and/or a public green space will be released. I can see a lot of third tier members' clubs in suburban areas selling up to a developer before the liquidator arrives - whether or not planning permission is in place.

It makes no political or financial sense for the government to bail out loss making golf clubs, whether they be member owned or proprietary.

At Cavendish we would have run out of money in July. Hence the immediate regime change and the launch of the crowdfunding appeal. It seems to be working. Halfway through the appeal we have achieved our initial target and donations continue to flood in. With the rewards on offer many of these are in effect advance payments on green fees or new memberships, but what the heck?  :)

Duncan

Again, a policy of building reserves should have happened during the fat years of waiting lists. I was in the UK at the time and vividly recall members at AGMs being shouted down for such a suggestion. Of course, it makes complete sense. When times are good money should get put away for the long term health of a club. I still maintain that even now, when budgets are debated, the idea of reserves should be on the table to at least discuss.

I also believe many clubs can cut fat from budgets. The issue is when do line items/employees get labelled fat.

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on May 16, 2020, 04:49:22 AM
This would make a great topic for discussion on one of our Zoom get-togethers.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jeff Schley on May 16, 2020, 04:53:49 AM
Most 18 hole Golf Courses in the UK are run as proper business's now and they understand that there needs to be a cash reserve. I like to run at £300,000 in the bank in the summer, the winters can wipe you out though. It is not easy to build up a reserve some years and tough competition from other clubs pricing can dictate what you charge.


This winter was obviously one of the worst ever so many clubs funds would have been wiped out. Many clubs would have lost members because of the winter. Funds will be at a low level atm.


Northern Clubs are much worse off than the Southern ones, prices are often 60% of the South, yet the run cost with min wage can't be significant cheaper because of government rules.


Basically, we still have too many golf courses. Casualties will be sky high now unless there is a government bail out. Our projected losses are £389,000 for the year to March 2021. We will run out of money between October and December.


Clubs are certainly being run in a more businesslike manner than in days gone by when the Hon Sec came in to sort through correspondence a couple of mornings a week.


Building up reserves is an unrealistic dream for most at the moment though. Minimizing losses and survival are the main concerns.


I do not see any possibility of a government bailout for golf clubs. I am sure that the government will take the view that if a club goes bust the course will still be there, and that another owner will take it over, therefore preserving both the facility and most of the jobs involved. A consortium of affluent members phoenixing the club minus its debts is a likely phenomenon.


If no new owner steps forward to take over the golf course, useful potential building land and/or a public green space will be released. I can see a lot of third tier members' clubs in suburban areas selling up to a developer before the liquidator arrives - whether or not planning permission is in place.


It makes no political or financial sense for the government to bail out loss making golf clubs, whether they be member owned or proprietary.


At Cavendish we would have run out of money in July. Hence the immediate regime change and the launch of the crowdfunding appeal. It seems to be working. Halfway through the appeal we have achieved our initial target and donations continue to flood in. With the rewards on offer many of these are in effect advance payments on green fees or new memberships, but what the heck?  :)

Duncan

Again, a policy of building reserves should have happened during the fat years of waiting lists. I was in the UK at the time and vividly recall members at AGMs being shouted down for such a suggestion. Of course, it makes complete sense. When times are good money should get put away for the long term health of a club. I still maintain that even now, when budgets are debated, the idea of reserves should be on the table to at least discuss.

Ciao
Reserves, as Sean noted, should be part of any budget for anyone and everything just about.  Unfortunately what happens if not done religiously, is that you find your club will need to take on debt.  Now, not only does it make it harder to squirrel away money for reserves to pay down the debt, but you are doing so with interest on top of that.
Debt for many private clubs in the US is typical and will be moreso probably in the next couple years. If initiation fees are used properly, for capital projects while gaining a modest return while deposited, then debt won't be a necessity for capital projects.
I have no idea of the tax laws in the UK, but here is a question please.........Do you have the allowance for tax deductible donations from your yearly taxes to charities? If so can a club be designated as a national historic landmark, create a non-profit charity to support it's preservation and historical significance?  Then the donations made to such entity would have the additional benefit of helping individuals with lowering their own taxable income, while helping a historic club.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on May 16, 2020, 05:40:43 AM
Most 18 hole Golf Courses in the UK are run as proper business's now and they understand that there needs to be a cash reserve. I like to run at £300,000 in the bank in the summer, the winters can wipe you out though. It is not easy to build up a reserve some years and tough competition from other clubs pricing can dictate what you charge.


This winter was obviously one of the worst ever so many clubs funds would have been wiped out. Many clubs would have lost members because of the winter. Funds will be at a low level atm.


Northern Clubs are much worse off than the Southern ones, prices are often 60% of the South, yet the run cost with min wage can't be significant cheaper because of government rules.


Basically, we still have too many golf courses. Casualties will be sky high now unless there is a government bail out. Our projected losses are £389,000 for the year to March 2021. We will run out of money between October and December.


Clubs are certainly being run in a more businesslike manner than in days gone by when the Hon Sec came in to sort through correspondence a couple of mornings a week.


Building up reserves is an unrealistic dream for most at the moment though. Minimizing losses and survival are the main concerns.


I do not see any possibility of a government bailout for golf clubs. I am sure that the government will take the view that if a club goes bust the course will still be there, and that another owner will take it over, therefore preserving both the facility and most of the jobs involved. A consortium of affluent members phoenixing the club minus its debts is a likely phenomenon.


If no new owner steps forward to take over the golf course, useful potential building land and/or a public green space will be released. I can see a lot of third tier members' clubs in suburban areas selling up to a developer before the liquidator arrives - whether or not planning permission is in place.


It makes no political or financial sense for the government to bail out loss making golf clubs, whether they be member owned or proprietary.


At Cavendish we would have run out of money in July. Hence the immediate regime change and the launch of the crowdfunding appeal. It seems to be working. Halfway through the appeal we have achieved our initial target and donations continue to flood in. With the rewards on offer many of these are in effect advance payments on green fees or new memberships, but what the heck?  :)

Duncan

Again, a policy of building reserves should have happened during the fat years of waiting lists. I was in the UK at the time and vividly recall members at AGMs being shouted down for such a suggestion. Of course, it makes complete sense. When times are good money should get put away for the long term health of a club. I still maintain that even now, when budgets are debated, the idea of reserves should be on the table to at least discuss.

Ciao
Reserves, as Sean noted, should be part of any budget for anyone and everything just about.  Unfortunately what happens if not done religiously, is that you find your club will need to take on debt.  Now, not only does it make it harder to squirrel away money for reserves to pay down the debt, but you are doing so with interest on top of that.
Debt for many private clubs in the US is typical and will be moreso probably in the next couple years. If initiation fees are used properly, for capital projects while gaining a modest return while deposited, then debt won't be a necessity for capital projects.
I have no idea of the tax laws in the UK, but here is a question please.........Do you have the allowance for tax deductible donations from your yearly taxes to charities? If so can a club be designated as a national historic landmark, create a non-profit charity to support it's preservation and historical significance?  Then the donations made to such entity would have the additional benefit of helping individuals with lowering their own taxable income, while helping a historic club.
Jeff- That is not really the 'English Way' clubs don't take on debt unless they hold some strong assetts ie the land. Most courses are on rented land and many clubs operate as break even. Hardly anyone makes donations in sizeable amounts to golf clubs.
Whilst clubs want to build reserves, the market is very competitive try and remember the line I am going to say now...Members will leave to join another club if it is £50 per year cheaper. You can't jack the prices up because of the price of the competition hence the problem, the golf market has raced to the bottom and some are now sniffing the silt.
Playing golf for many people is not about the architecture or the Kummell in the bar. They play in groups and if one spots a deal elsewhere they move. There is very little loyalty left in the human world. Fortunately it still remains with Canines.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jeff Schley on May 16, 2020, 06:14:34 AM
Is there an Ebenezer Scrooge GC, or just a whole bunch that haven't changed their name to reflect the attitude yet?  ;D
Is it truly that price sensitive? Tough market if members don't see any value proposition from one course to the next, sans the bottom line of price.
Visitor income has filled in the gaps, but with that gone presently you have to care take your baby do you not?
Is the tax question I posed a realistic possibility?  In the US some private courses have created foundations which are charities and thus contributions are tax deductible, if their club's history is such that is deemed as having national historic importance.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on June 19, 2020, 03:52:45 AM
https://www.thegolfbusiness.co.uk/2020/06/one-golf-club-has-seen-its-membership-treble-in-the-last-month/



One golf club has seen its membership TREBLE in the last month
By Alistair Dunsmuir


Some golf clubs that feared that they might not reopen when they closed in March are now stating their futures have been secured due to the current strong demand.


They include a club that had less than 100 members last autumn, which has seen 270 join in the last month alone. This means its membership has more than trebled in the last month.


Earlier this month we reported on Brora Golf Club in Sutherland, which said its future had been safeguarded – just two months after it feared it would never reopen.


Now, amid stories that income is rising fast at many UK golf clubs, Braes Golf Centre in Falkirk has said it is also secure, even though it was just 48 hours away from going under last autumn.


In a report in The Scotsman, the club says it has brought in an astonishing nearly 300 members since last October, when, under its former name, Polmont Golf Club, it announced it would close down.


It then was saved at the 11th hour by a rescue deal and changed its name at the end of last year.


“[The number of members the club had] was down to 88 when the new owners took over and we are currently approaching 400,” said Richard McLuckie, general manager. “In the last month alone, we’ve taken on 270 new members, including 30 juniors, having not had any juniors at all.


“It’s been kind of crazy. As Polmont Golf Club, it was gone. It was finished until Steve Matthews took the gamble on taking it over and, all of a sudden, it has come back from the dead, absolutely.


“We got a wee bit lucky in terms of coming out of lockdown and finding that people were looking for activities right away and golf seemed to get the big hit. But it’s been reborn, no doubt whatsoever.


“It’s always been a community club and a lot of people are returning to the club, which is down to what we’ve done over the last three months. We’ve totally redeveloped the course and they are saying, ‘crikey, we’ve got a golf course again’.


“It is a great story. Not just for the Braes but every golf club in the surrounding area. If we get kids and women playing, they might not stay at the Braes, but they will go somewhere else. Other golf clubs in the area may benefit from us having lots of ladies and juniors playing golf as that’s where the future of the game lies.”


“Steve and [his son] Drew are both keen golfers,” said David Russell, the company’s marketing manager. “A lot of their businesses are local to the Linlithgow area, which is where they are from, and they are helping a local club.


“I’ve been a member at Linlithgow for 15 years and I’d heard a lot of Polmont members complaining about it being run down due to no investment. Steve and Drew have now come in and are putting their own stamp on it. They want to give something back to the community.”


“We are totally redeveloping the course, reshaping greens, putting new tees and bunkers in and also some ditches,” added McLuckie.


Another Scottish club that is thriving at the moment is West Lothian Golf Club.


It has seen 53 members join in just the first two weeks of June.


“Under normal circumstances it would be one, two or three new people joining,” West Lothian captain Pete Cowen told the Journal and Gazette.


“Some of the 53 are returning members and some are taking up golf for the first time, within a complete cross section of age groups.


“In the short term we are getting the economic benefit of golf being one of the sports to return since lockdown was eased and we hope it continues.


“It’s been challenging and we’re glad to be golfing again.


“I have played three rounds in a row and the course is in superb condition.


“We’ve had lots of positive feedback from members.”


Another golf club that has seen its future secured is Lochend Golf club in Edinburgh, which has secured grants totalling £15,000.


The club received £10,000 from the Scottish government through a fund to help leisure businesses with rates after being forced into temporary closure by the pandemic.


It has also tapped into the Third Sector Resilience Fund, an emergency pot for charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations working in Scotland, to get another £5,000, reports Edinburgh News.


“We never get grants as a golf club normally, so to get £15,000 in total is huge,” said club secretary Stuart McCallum.


“It has secured the club’s future. Without that £15,000, we’d probably have been facing a battle in October this year rather than December.


“Whether that would have jeopardised the future of the club, who knows, but it could certainly have gone that route.


“Covid-19 hit at the worst time for us. Like most clubs, the annual membership was due. We’d just sent out memberships renewals, so the lockdown came right in the middle of that.


“Straight away, our cash flow was a major problem. We were down £30,000 as only half the members had paid, so that was a nightmare.


“We are not in charge of the course, so we haven’t lost anything like that. What we’ve lost since 17 March is all the income that comes through the club – the bar, the events.


“That just stopped overnight with very little warning. As a consequence, we furloughed the bar staff. But it meant our finances dropped to virtually a trickle.”

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on June 19, 2020, 06:47:25 AM
They have traditionally kept subscriptions low, because locals can't afford to play the high fees that visitors cheerfully fork over. So they end up in a double bind- because country or foreign members almost always pay nearly the same subscription as locals, when they visit they generate food, beverage and shop revenue but no golf fees.
This is nonsense, except in the case of, perhaps, the top 10% of clubs.  I belong to three UK clubs.  At Crail, they do encourage and benefit from plenty of overseas (and other UK) visitors.  They also have a very large membership, encouraged by a low subscription.  Of the 1500 members, more than half don't live within an hour's drive and very many are overseas (paying the same regular subscription (around £400) as the locals).  The Golf House Club also does well out of overseas visitors (and even better since the course became better known thanks to, among others, the No Laying Up crowd).  Membership is strong and more than half the membership is, again, not local.  Most, though (like us) are regular visitors to Fife.  Visitor numbers are lower in peak season as the course is very busy with member play.  Subs are about twice what I pay at Crail.


The Northumberland is the second best traditional club in the county (Goswick is better, Close House a better course fundamentally but I'm not sure it's a better course for a members club as it's such a tough walk).  It's also the smartest.  I suspect that when Scott Warren, Jason Topp and John Mayhugh visited last May they were the last overseas players the course saw (and they were guests, not visitors).  We get some local visitors at a green fee of £60 (I think) but the £1800 sub basically pays for the operation of the club.


Assuming that all UK courses benefit from the economic model that works for the Open rota courses and the North Berwicks of this world is ignoring reality. 


I'd be really interested to hear what proportion of the income at great clubs such as Hollinwell (it's going to be hard to call Notts that), Cavendish and Silloth comes from overseas visitors and non-local visitors.  I suspect very little, even in those cases. 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on June 21, 2020, 12:42:02 AM
I'd be really interested to hear what proportion of the income at great clubs such as Hollinwell (it's going to be hard to call Notts that), Cavendish and Silloth comes from overseas visitors and non-local visitors.  I suspect very little, even in those cases.


I guess it depends how you define "non-local".

Cavendish and Silloth are both highly dependent on visitor income to supplement a relatively low membership base from their immediate area.

Nearly half of Cavendish's income is from green fees - the bulk of that involving visiting societies from within an hour or so's driving distance, a potential market of 5 million people.  "Local" in Buxton means 10 minutes driving distance!

I don't yet know the figures at Silloth but I imagine that the situation reflects that at other remote links courses whereby a small local membership paying a low annual subscription is made sustainable by a large number of visitors paying a green fee that is high in proportion to the annual subs. Silloth's realistic catchment area for visitors is far wider than Cavendish's - up to two and a half hours drive, making up a market of some 20 million people.

Silloth and Cavendish have distinct similarities in that they are each seen as possibly the best quality "affordable" course for visiting parties within their respective catchments. Both are nudging up their green fees slowly but surely after years of being "too cheap". I suspect that the more they go up (within reason) the more visitors will be attracted. Membership at both meanwhile, is an absolute bargain. 8)

Hollinwell is a different beast entirely. A high-end club with a magnificent course financed principally by members paying a high annual subscription for their golfing oasis relatively close to their homes and professional lives in the East Midlands. I am sure that visitor income is a very welcome boost to the coffers at Hollinwell, but I am equally sure that if push came to shove they could manage perfectly well without it. That Hollinwell too are nudging up their green fee has not gone unnoticed. It's now £110!


International money tends to go to specific areas such as Surrey, Kent, Lancashire, Ayrshire, Lothian, Fife, and Dornoch. The three clubs mentioned will pick up bits and pieces, but are not on the main trial.

This is a thread about Scottish golf, but I suspect that the varying models of these three English clubs are recognisable in Scotland too. There are almost as many models as there are golf clubs!


 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on June 21, 2020, 07:43:45 AM
Duncan


If I remember correctly, when I was a member at Silloth, only about between 100 and a 150 of the members lived in the town. There was always a relatively high turnover of membership because a lot of new members found the course to demanding and decided they liked idea of a links but preferred the reality of a nice parkland and left after a short while. Also the travel can get tiresome after a while and when most of your members live over half an hour a way then you're going to get high proportion dropping off for that reason.


However I think it's misleading to talk about courses like Silloth in relation to the health of golf in this country. Silloth and the like have always been popular visitor courses but they are a small minority of the clubs/courses in this country. Looking only at Scotland there are from memory just under 600 courses. Approx. 15% of those are in the Glasgow area. A few of them will get a bit of action from the odd society visit and the odd visitor but mainly the income will come from members subs and the like. And for most of them I suspect they probably don't see any overseas visitor from one year to the next. The same can be said about the courses round Edinburgh, Aberdeen etc. that aren't links/holiday destinations.


Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Chaplin on June 21, 2020, 09:24:10 AM
At Deal our on course revenue is split around 60% membership fees and 40% “temporary” membership (green fees) and course hire. The latter being guest fees, unaccompanied visitor play and events be they corporate or society type events, we are fortune to be in the group of clubs where big societies such as the Army Officers, Law Society, etc take over the course for 2 or 3 days for events and have done so for years. Country members pay around 33% of full subs and distant members both national and international pay around 25% of full subs. Unaccompanied visitor  revenue is mainly national with Belgium’s being our most numerous  overseas visitors followed by Swedes and Americans.


We will lose the majority of the 40% this year as many of the big revenue events fell during lockdown. Now we are open most tee times are taken by members, the demand is huge, as many are working from home or furloughed. There is fairly strong demand for visitor golf but it’s hampered by the no overnight rule at the moment.


We were in a strong financial position at the beginning of the year and the Open returning to Sandwich in 2021 will help immensely. Providing like many businesses we use Covid as a way of looking at how we can do things differently in the future we should be able to weather the economic fallout from Covid. As has been said earlier crowd funding is only a plaster over a gaping wound and likely to postpone rather than cure the pain.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on June 22, 2020, 03:06:49 AM

Members pay £10,000 to save Brora golf club

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18532525.members-pay-10-000-save-brora-golf-club/
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Chaplin on June 22, 2020, 03:41:41 AM
At £428 for full local membership the club have clearly had zero contingency for loss of visitor income. More fool people paying £10k to sponsor cheap golf for the locals.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jon Wiggett on June 22, 2020, 04:01:43 AM
At £428 for full local membership the club have clearly had zero contingency for loss of visitor income. More fool people paying £10k to sponsor cheap golf for the locals.



Mark,


£428 is the price the market up here will take which is why RD also charges in the same region. Brora is a holiday destination and has been for a long time so greenfee revenue is a legitimate part of their budget. I do think that clubs should look to cover their costs through membership alone though and use GFs as extra income. Lets face it even an affluent club can only keep going for 8 months or so on a 60%-40% Membership to GF split.  ;)
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on June 22, 2020, 08:51:31 AM
Mark,


Two points.


1. Clubs in remote rural areas charge whatever the local market will bear for membership. More often than not this is a fraction of what a club with an equivalent course in southern England could charge.


2. The whole business model of such clubs is that half if not more of their income comes from visitors. This is not a flaw - it is reality. Such clubs are in the tourism business.


Selling distance and country memberships is clearly a good idea, to reduce dependence on casual visitors
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ryan Coles on June 22, 2020, 11:14:48 PM
I'd be really interested to hear what proportion of the income at great clubs such as Hollinwell (it's going to be hard to call Notts that), Cavendish and Silloth comes from overseas visitors and non-local visitors.  I suspect very little, even in those cases.


I guess it depends how you define "non-local".

Cavendish and Silloth are both highly dependent on visitor income to supplement a relatively low membership base from their immediate area.

Nearly half of Cavendish's income is from green fees - the bulk of that involving visiting societies from within an hour or so's driving distance, a potential market of 5 million people.  "Local" in Buxton means 10 minutes driving distance!

I don't yet know the figures at Silloth but I imagine that the situation reflects that at other remote links courses whereby a small local membership paying a low annual subscription is made sustainable by a large number of visitors paying a green fee that is high in proportion to the annual subs. Silloth's realistic catchment area for visitors is far wider than Cavendish's - up to two and a half hours drive, making up a market of some 20 million people.

Silloth and Cavendish have distinct similarities in that they are each seen as possibly the best quality "affordable" course for visiting parties within their respective catchments. Both are nudging up their green fees slowly but surely after years of being "too cheap". I suspect that the more they go up (within reason) the more visitors will be attracted. Membership at both meanwhile, is an absolute bargain. 8)

Hollinwell is a different beast entirely. A high-end club with a magnificent course financed principally by members paying a high annual subscription for their golfing oasis relatively close to their homes and professional lives in the East Midlands. I am sure that visitor income is a very welcome boost to the coffers at Hollinwell, but I am equally sure that if push came to shove they could manage perfectly well without it. That Hollinwell too are nudging up their green fee has not gone unnoticed. It's now £110!


International money tends to go to specific areas such as Surrey, Kent, Lancashire, Ayrshire, Lothian, Fife, and Dornoch. The three clubs mentioned will pick up bits and pieces, but are not on the main trial.

This is a thread about Scottish golf, but I suspect that the varying models of these three English clubs are recognisable in Scotland too. There are almost as many models as there are golf clubs!


Hollinwell is circa £600k in subs and £250k in greenfees according to companies house.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on June 23, 2020, 01:22:46 AM
Thanks, Ryan.  Of a total income of £1.34m green fees accounted in 2017/18 for £250k.  That green fee figure includes, it seems, corporate days etc (these aren't in "Other Income") and obviously includes locals (and other UK nationals) paying a green fee.  So green fees account for less than 20% of income at one of the leading clubs in the country which is not in a major golf tourism area.  And of those, I would expect that far less than £100k represents overseas green fees.  Does that seem reasonable?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on June 23, 2020, 03:46:52 AM
Which tends to support my earlier assertion that while jolly handy, visitor income is not essential to a club such as Hollinwell.


The same would be true of the more elite clubs around all major cities. Not all have particularly noteworthy golf courses.


Clubs such as Silloth, Cavendish, Harlech, Machrihanish and Dornoch however, are absolutely reliant on visitor income. There are simply not enough chimney pots in the immediate vicinity to support such a golf club via membership subs alone.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on June 24, 2020, 10:04:08 AM
We are about 50-50 on our income. It will hit us hard as we rely on visitor income heavily, that aside our green fees are good so we are making up some ground.


287 cancellations since March for 2020 bookings for golf socities, weddings, conferences, parties.  Represents about £500,000.


I think some clubs will be doing well out of the pandemic in the UK, most golf courses are packed from dawn to dusk and many report new members one club I consult at have added 182 new members, the closure of the clubhouse will also lead to huge savings.


Overall golf has been re-energised as there has been ****** else to do....the big question is will clubs retain these black sheep or at next renewal will they say baaaaah
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ryan Coles on June 26, 2020, 09:03:57 AM
Which tends to support my earlier assertion that while jolly handy, visitor income is not essential to a club such as Hollinwell.


The same would be true of the more elite clubs around all major cities. Not all have particularly noteworthy golf courses.


Clubs such as Silloth, Cavendish, Harlech, Machrihanish and Dornoch however, are absolutely reliant on visitor income. There are simply not enough chimney pots in the immediate vicinity to support such a golf club via membership subs alone.


Albeit they would show a deficit of £240k If you took away the visitor income. (Plus F&B, Minus admin).


I’m sure they would be fine but it would mean an additional £1k on the annual subs. I’m sure they’d have no shortage of takers, but Clubs in their position can have the best of both worlds, low prices for members, high end quality.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on June 26, 2020, 11:35:17 AM
Which tends to support my earlier assertion that while jolly handy, visitor income is not essential to a club such as Hollinwell.


The same would be true of the more elite clubs around all major cities. Not all have particularly noteworthy golf courses.


Clubs such as Silloth, Cavendish, Harlech, Machrihanish and Dornoch however, are absolutely reliant on visitor income. There are simply not enough chimney pots in the immediate vicinity to support such a golf club via membership subs alone.


Albeit they would show a deficit of £240k If you took away the visitor income. (Plus F&B, Minus admin).


I’m sure they would be fine but it would mean an additional £1k on the annual subs. I’m sure they’d have no shortage of takers, but Clubs in their position can have the best of both worlds, low prices for members, high end quality.
Most of those clubs will have more than 240 members, though, won't they?  And they'd almost certainly make some cuts, too.  But your point is good, £240k is pretty significant for a business turning over £1.3m.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on June 26, 2020, 12:43:04 PM
Mark,


Most of those clubs probably have waiting lists for membership. Let in an extra 50 members (or 100 country members) and the deficit has gone!
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on June 27, 2020, 02:35:07 AM
https://www.thegolfbusiness.co.uk/2020/06/scottish-golf-2018-2019/



2018-19 was the best year for Scottish golf clubs in years
By Alistair Dunsmuirthe


Scottish golf clubs saw a sharp drop in the pace of membership decline before the pandemic started, according to new data.


Since golf courses in Scotland reopened at the end of May there has been a surge in memberships, but it wasn’t known until now that the decline of members in Scotland had come almost to a halt.


At Scottish Golf’s first ever virtual annual general meeting, featuring more than 100 delegates, it was revealed that a long-term decline in members at Scottish clubs has slowed significantly, with 500 fewer adult members at Scottish golf clubs during 2019, compared with a reduction of more than 5,500 from 2017 to 2018.


Between 2012 and 2018 the number of members of Scottish golf clubs dropped from about 210,000 to just over 180,000 – an average of nearly 5,000 a year.


This means 2018-19 was probably the best year for the Scottish golf industry in several years.


In addition, Scottish Golf chair, Eleanor Cannon explained that golf clubs have reported a jump in new membership applications since the end of May 2020.


She said: “We are getting very positive feedback from lots of clubs which are dealing with membership applications on a scale they’ve not seen for years. We have heard of clubs that have had over 80 new membership applications in the past few weeks and that’s a very welcome trend we hope continues throughout the year.


“Many of those applications are from golfers who would otherwise play as visitors, but we have also received reports of new applications from people who visited golf courses for the first time to walk and exercise during the lockdown and have been encouraged to join by the friendly responses they received from existing members.”


The AGM also heard how Scottish Golf rebated £575,000 back to clubs across the country as the pandemic forced courses to close, helping them deal with the inevitable cash-flow hit from green fees and clubhouse takings.  In addition, a £40,000 emergency fund was established to help clubs which have been particularly badly affected by the impact of the lockdown restrictions.


She added that digital technology will play an increasingly crucial role in helping golfers and clubs in Scotland deal with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.


She concluded: “Lastly, I’d like to offer my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. Many clubs have lost valued members and friends to this disease in recent months and our thoughts go out to their families and friends.”

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on July 06, 2020, 12:58:22 PM
https://www.bunkered.co.uk/golf-news/golf-in-aberdeen-hits-40-year-high-following-lockdown



Golf in Aberdeen hits 40-YEAR high following lockdown
By Michael McEwan — 06 July, 2020


In the first three weeks of golf receiving the green light to restart in Scotland, Golf Aberdeen welcomed almost 10,000 golfers back to its courses, with 6,200 tee times booked in that period.


This is the busiest the courses have been in the last 40 years, with every course almost at capacity, each day.


Golf Aberdeen manages the courses - namely the MacKenzie Championship Course, Hazlehead Pines, Balnagask and Kings Links - on behalf of Sport Aberdeen, whose chairman Tony Dawson is delighted with how 'Granite City' locals have rallied behind the so-called return to golf.


“The appetite for golf that we are currently seeing is exceptional, and very much welcomed," said Dawson. "Golf is an excellent form of exercise for people of all ages and is one of the few sporting options available to participate in at the moment.


“The current situation has proven that golf is incredibly important to the people of Aberdeen and we want to continue to provide them with a fantastic, high quality, accessible offering across all of our courses.


“Public golf courses have, at times, been considered a poor relation to private clubs. However, thanks to the significant hard work and investment into Sport Aberdeen’s venues, the city now has five high quality courses of a standard that can confidently compete with private clubs in the north-east.”


Since 2014, Sport Aberdeen has invested roughly half a million pounds across all four 18-hole courses. This has included substantial fairway renovation work, bunker repair and renewal, tee levelling and path reconstruction. In the case of the MacKenzie Championship and Pines Courses at Hazlehead Park, drainage works and, thanks to Aberdeen City Council, an extensive tree thinning programme have also been carried out.


The work on the MacKenzie Championships course in particular has been extensive, with an investment of £250,000 made to completely renew the drainage, which helped stave of the expected closure of the course.


In addition, the maintenance programme has been completely restructured to bring it more closely in line with modern greenkeeping techniques, whilst Sport Aberdeen’s partner contractor has invested £750,000 in equipment, which has made a huge difference.


A number of changes have been made to the operation and arrangements for booking to ensure customers comply with the return to golf guidelines.


These are primarily focussed around two areas; ensuring that physical distancing rules are adhered to, including increased spacing of tee times and allowing groups of up to four golfers, with a maximum of three households be represented in any one group; and general hygiene, including the regular use of hand sanitiser, no sharing of equipment, no bunker rakes or touching of flag poles.


A team of marshals are present on the courses to support golfers in following the new guidelines, ensuring everyone can get the most out of golf in Aberdeen.


Dawson continued: “Feedback from golfers using all of our courses confirms that we are getting it right and the positive reaction has been fantastic over the last few weeks. We have been absolutely delighted to see our valued members and customers back out on the greens and we look forward to continuing to create opportunities for more people to enjoy sport in Aberdeen.


“The incredible loyalty and backing we have received from everyone throughout lockdown, and upon reopening certain provisions, has cemented Sport Aberdeen’s place at the heart of community activity in the Granite City and I would like to thank each and every person who has, and continues to support the charity.”
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on October 06, 2020, 12:57:21 PM
https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/scottish-golf-clubs-urged-be-accurate-membership-numbers-2994476



Scottish golf clubs urged to be 'accurate' with membership numbers
By Martin Dempster
Tuesday, 6th October 2020


The plea has been made by Scottish Golf's chief operating officer, Karin Sharp, as the deadline looms for affiliated clubs to report annual membership figures to the governing body.


That figure determines how much Scottish Golf is due by each club through the £14.50 affiliation fee paid by club golfers as part of their annual subscription.


A number of clubs around the country have enjoyed a rise in membership this year, including Moray Golf Club in Lossiemouth, where over 300 new members have been signed up.


That boost alone should see an additional £4,000 go into Scottish Golf's coffers, with Sharp stressing the importance of "accurate" recording in an email to clubs.


"As we use the information to inform progress against investment targets and to track membership in golf clubs, it is important that the return is accurate and includes all adult members with playing rights, irrespective of how often they access the club and/or whether they have an official handicap," she said.


"Whilst the per capita fee does not apply to your junior members or social members, we do ask for accurate data on both these categories as we use this for other purposes, most significantly in applications we make to external funders for support of the junior game.


"We are aware that there have previously been incidences of clubs failing to submit accurate or consistent data which has a direct impact on our ability to invest in the game across Scotland.


"Therefore, we ask that you ensure the accuracy of your return and please be aware that we will be checking returns against those previously submitted and other publicly available data.


"We are not looking to penalise past errors in submission, but we are looking to ensure accuracy in these and future returns. Tracking and understanding the membership landscape across Scotland is critical at a time when we are working hard to position the importance of the industry to the economy."


After golf clubs went into lockdown earlier in the year, Scottish Golf came up with a support package worth more than £575,000 by way of a refund or a rebate on affiliation fees for last year.


Now the governing body is considering offering further help to clubs hit by Covid-19 through "extended" payment plans for this year.


"Whilst we know that a number of clubs have benefitted from increased membership following the easing of lockdown, we are also acutely aware of the perilous financial situation a large number of clubs are still facing with the continued uncertainty caused by Covid-19," added Sharp.


"Therefore, we are providing all clubs with the option to spread payments over a longer-term than previously has been offered."


“To assist clubs with planning and potentially to access extended payment plan terms, we are looking for all club data to be returned no later than 14 October 2020.


"Payment plans will be offered once the returns have been validated and the invoice issued, which will commence from November 2020 if the submission deadline has been met."

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on October 06, 2020, 09:14:36 PM
I know for a fact that many clubs (not just in Scotland) do not necessarily include “flexible” members in the figures submitted to their governing bodies.


These are the golfers who purchase a membership based on points which are then redeemed for rounds of golf. These memberships are either administered directly by the club or via a third party such as PlayMoreGolf.


It is common practice for the national levy to be applied only if the member requires a handicap to be administered by the club. Purely social golfers under these flexible schemes are often left out of the official figures completely.


Also, I’m a member of three golf clubs. My understanding is that I should pay the levy at all of them.  Two have never asked me for it - presumably on the basis that my handicap is elsewhere.



Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on October 07, 2020, 02:14:55 AM
https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/scottish-golf-clubs-urged-be-accurate-membership-numbers-2994476



Scottish golf clubs urged to be 'accurate' with membership numbers
By Martin Dempster
Tuesday, 6th October 2020


The plea has been made by Scottish Golf's chief operating officer, Karin Sharp, as the deadline looms for affiliated clubs to report annual membership figures to the governing body.


That figure determines how much Scottish Golf is due by each club through the £14.50 affiliation fee paid by club golfers as part of their annual subscription.


A number of clubs around the country have enjoyed a rise in membership this year, including Moray Golf Club in Lossiemouth, where over 300 new members have been signed up.


That boost alone should see an additional £4,000 go into Scottish Golf's coffers, with Sharp stressing the importance of "accurate" recording in an email to clubs.


"As we use the information to inform progress against investment targets and to track membership in golf clubs, it is important that the return is accurate and includes all adult members with playing rights, irrespective of how often they access the club and/or whether they have an official handicap," she said.


"Whilst the per capita fee does not apply to your junior members or social members, we do ask for accurate data on both these categories as we use this for other purposes, most significantly in applications we make to external funders for support of the junior game.


"We are aware that there have previously been incidences of clubs failing to submit accurate or consistent data which has a direct impact on our ability to invest in the game across Scotland.


"Therefore, we ask that you ensure the accuracy of your return and please be aware that we will be checking returns against those previously submitted and other publicly available data.


"We are not looking to penalise past errors in submission, but we are looking to ensure accuracy in these and future returns. Tracking and understanding the membership landscape across Scotland is critical at a time when we are working hard to position the importance of the industry to the economy."


After golf clubs went into lockdown earlier in the year, Scottish Golf came up with a support package worth more than £575,000 by way of a refund or a rebate on affiliation fees for last year.


Now the governing body is considering offering further help to clubs hit by Covid-19 through "extended" payment plans for this year.


"Whilst we know that a number of clubs have benefitted from increased membership following the easing of lockdown, we are also acutely aware of the perilous financial situation a large number of clubs are still facing with the continued uncertainty caused by Covid-19," added Sharp.


"Therefore, we are providing all clubs with the option to spread payments over a longer-term than previously has been offered."


“To assist clubs with planning and potentially to access extended payment plan terms, we are looking for all club data to be returned no later than 14 October 2020.


"Payment plans will be offered once the returns have been validated and the invoice issued, which will commence from November 2020 if the submission deadline has been met."

Brian

I'm always interested to dip into this thread as its a running commentary of the state of the game in Scotland. However is it not about time to change the thread heading ? After all if the game had been sinking as fast as claimed when you first posted then it would be all over by now. Maybe something a bit less sensationalist might be better.

Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on October 07, 2020, 07:39:08 AM
Not Scotland but not a long way away.  The Northumberland GC starting sheet for this Saturday (only an extra medal for most as it's the final of our monthly spoons and you have to have won a spoon to compete in that) has one slot (as in, for one individual) free between 7.30 and 2.30.  The slot that's free is because of a drop out last night for Covid reasons.  I have never seen the starting sheet so full.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adam Lawrence on October 07, 2020, 08:54:30 AM
At this rate people will soon start saying we need more golf courses  :)
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on November 17, 2020, 03:04:14 AM

Letham Grange Golf Club is finally no more ....

https://www.bunkered.co.uk/golf-news/famed-club-donates-remaining-funds-as-it-shuts-for-good

(https://www.bunkered.co.uk/imager/uploads/site/785980/LethamGrange_190208_111238_4ef9f3d60e48f60baa5813f356ceb776.jpg)
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on November 19, 2020, 02:47:08 AM
https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18882508.glasgow-golf-course-become-urban-farm/


But perhaps the most visible sign of the re-greening of Glasgow could be the city’s first urban farm. GCFN and its partner organisations want to use some of the National Lottery money to convert one of the five municipal golf courses currently under threat of closure to realise this. They are Linn Park, Lethamhill, Littlehill, Alexandra Park and Ruchill.

“We urgently need to upscale urban food production in the city and localise our food systems,” said Mordin. “If we can persuade Glasgow City Council to release one of the surplus golf courses it would be just amazing because it would enable large-scale urban agriculture and vegetable growing, facilitate training and apprenticeships in animal husbandry, beekeeping, vegetable growing and so forth. How exciting if – ahead of COP26 – the city can boast that it has its first urban farm.”
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on November 19, 2020, 08:20:49 AM

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18882508.glasgow-golf-course-become-urban-farm/ (https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18882508.glasgow-golf-course-become-urban-farm/)


But perhaps the most visible sign of the re-greening of Glasgow could be the city’s first urban farm. GCFN and its partner organisations want to use some of the National Lottery money to convert one of the five municipal golf courses currently under threat of closure to realise this. They are Linn Park, Lethamhill, Littlehill, Alexandra Park and Ruchill.

“We urgently need to upscale urban food production in the city and localise our food systems,” said Mordin. “If we can persuade Glasgow City Council to release one of the surplus golf courses it would be just amazing because it would enable large-scale urban agriculture and vegetable growing, facilitate training and apprenticeships in animal husbandry, beekeeping, vegetable growing and so forth. How exciting if – ahead of COP26 – the city can boast that it has its first urban farm.”
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on November 19, 2020, 08:31:20 AM
Sad to see Letham Grange go.


Have many good memories of that place. It really was the “Augusta” of Scotland for us when it opened. Seems very choked by trees now, though.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ben Stephens on November 19, 2020, 08:57:48 AM
Sad to see Letham Grange go.


Have many good memories of that place. It really was the “Augusta” of Scotland for us when it opened. Seems very choked by trees now, though.


Agree with you - I was fortunate to play the course in the late 90's its a shame that the owner now has different aspirations for the site.


Doc likes Letham Grange
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Robin_Hiseman on November 20, 2020, 04:18:51 AM
Ben


I was a member there for a couple of years. The second 18 was nothing to write home about, but the Old Course was very fine of its type. I first played it back in 1987 and it was the most exciting course I had yet seen in my young life (17 then). The 'Augusta of Scotland' tag was well earned and the stretch of holes from 8-10 through the rhododendron groves and over the lakes was purposely built to mimic Augusta in style.


I enjoyed my time there, especially the long hazy summer evenings, when I would play by myself until the dusk descended. I never thought that the last time I drove out of the gates would be the last time I played there. It was always a course I wanted to go back to. I'm very sad to hear it is now consigned to history. It deserves better than that, but suffered from having a complete wanker for an owner. I'd like to slap him hard.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on November 20, 2020, 05:20:19 AM
Ben


I was a member there for a couple of years. The second 18 was nothing to write home about, but the Old Course was very fine of its type. I first played it back in 1987 and it was the most exciting course I had yet seen in my young life (17 then). The 'Augusta of Scotland' tag was well earned and the stretch of holes from 8-10 through the rhododendron groves and over the lakes was purposely built to mimic Augusta in style.


I enjoyed my time there, especially the long hazy summer evenings, when I would play by myself until the dusk descended. I never thought that the last time I drove out of the gates would be the last time I played there. It was always a course I wanted to go back to. I'm very sad to hear it is now consigned to history. It deserves better than that, but suffered from having a complete wanker for an owner. I'd like to slap him hard.


Robin,


You remember that that stretch from 8-10 was originally 8, 11, 12?


When they built the new course, they commandeered the old 9th and 10th through the trees and built a new 16 & 17 for The Old Course... I liked the original routing best.


I’d agree with you that in 1987, it was the most exciting course I’d seen also. I’d already played Carnoustie, Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay and other links courses but they were my “normal”. At that time, American style golf with water hazards was a luxury for us. Shows how perceptions change.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Robin_Hiseman on November 20, 2020, 05:43:03 AM
Ally


The switch over had happened before I got there, but I did occasionally play the old sequence when it was quiet. The transferred holes were very pretty, very narrow and very close to the new houses. I liked them, but didn't mind the two replacement holes (16 and 17).


The back nine was consistently good. Perhaps Donald Steel's best work of that era.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on November 20, 2020, 08:09:21 AM
I recall some spectacular and challenging holes on the main course. Some very grand by UK standards houses nearby too. I also recall it being a tough walk. The other course I can't recall at all.
They used to do quite a few corporate memberships .... to cater for ex-pat oil industry execs and supplier reps who couldn't get into golf clubs around the Granite City as the waiting lists were long and the execs etc in question weren't around for long enough to get to the top of a waiting list.

atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on November 20, 2020, 12:58:55 PM
When they built the new course, they commandeered the old 9th and 10th through the trees and built a new 16 & 17 for The Old Course... I liked the original routing best.


New 16 & 17th holes also had a lot to do with changing the routing of the 18th.


The original 18th was all about how much you could cut off the corner of the dogleg, which of course meant loads of balls landing on the property to the right of the fairway.


Not sure if I have many photos of the original layout, which was before I had a digital camera.



Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on March 07, 2021, 01:47:40 PM
https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/scottish-golf-clubs-record-61-per-cent-rise-in-playing-membership-3157330 (https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/scottish-golf-clubs-record-61-per-cent-rise-in-playing-membership-3157330)


Scottish golf clubs record 6.1 per cent rise in playing membership
By Martin Dempster
Sunday, 7th March 2021


It has also been revealed by Scottish Golf that seven clubs in the Home of Golf recorded an increase of over 100 per cent from 2019-20.

The figures have been released by the governing body in a yearly review presented at the annual general meeting, which was held virtually today for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.

“One of the positives to have emerged from the pandemic is that, for the first time since 2015, we have seen an increase in club membership,” said the report.

“Our 568 affiliated clubs saw a 6.1 per cent increase in playing members (adults and juniors) of 10,920, with total playing membership of 190,777.

“There were seven clubs reporting over 100 per cent increase in playing membership from 2019-20.

“This increase in club membership is great news for our affiliated clubs and we urge all our clubs to engage fully to ensure those members can be retained as we head into a prolonged period of economic uncertainty.”

The total playing membership in Scotland rose from 179,857 to 190,777, with the figure for adult membership jumping from 164,356 to 174,255.

Adult male membership increased from 143,205 to 152,641 while the adult female total went up to 21,614 from 21,151.

On the junior front, the total membership climbed from 15,501 to 16,522, with the boys’ total now standing at 13,903 compared to 12,966 the previous year and the girls’ figure going from 2,535 to 2,619.

As had been previously reported by The Scotsman, the governing body’s accounts for the year ended 30 September 2020 showed a loss of £18,350 compared to a surplus of £226,382 in 2019.

The downturn has been attributed to a “significant reduction” in membership income as a result of a 25 per cent affiliation fee rebate, which represented a grant of £580,145, offered to all clubs as they were hit by the initial coronavirus lockdown.

“We are in unprecedented, remarkable times. Since March 2020 we have all been reminded how important the wonderful game of golf is in our lives,” said Eleanor Cannon in her final report as chair of Scottish Golf, having now handed over the reins to Martin Gilbert.

“We have learnt how much we, as individuals, appreciate the golfing communities that we are part of, and how much the camaraderie offers us personally through good times and bad.

“The past 12 months have been challenging and for many harrowing.

“I am extremely proud of the speed at which the Scottish Golf team acted to reassess our financial position and reprioritise activity.

“The outcome of this review was being able to provide support to our affiliated clubs both financially, by rebating 25 per of our affiliation fees, and practically, through regular Covid-19 updates.

“Throughout my time as Chair, we have been working on a variety of long-term growth initiatives which support the organisation’s vision of Making Golf Scotland’s Game For Everyone and 2020 was a big year of implementation as we saw a number of these plans come to life.”

Development costs in 2020 rose to £1.3 million from just over £480,000 the previous year, with a big chunk of that being spent on a new Venue Management System (VMS) and app.

The annual report said that the VMS has been presented to “almost 400 clubs”, with “237 clubs configured on the system at various stages of deployment”.

The Scottish Golf App has been hailed by the governing body as “another success story” on the strength of having 148,000 registered users out of a total of 190,000 golf club members.

“During 2020, we focussed on building stronger partnerships within the golf industry and across the sporting sector to ensure we cater to the needs of our stakeholders at area, county and club level,” said Karin Sharp, Scottish Golf’s chief operating officer.

“I have been greatly encouraged by the engagement through zoom calls with our key members and industry colleagues, which provided regular and constructive dialogue on a wide range of topics.

“I am very proud with the way in which Scottish Golf has supported our members throughout the year both financially and practically, with a significantly increased level of communications to ensure all our affiliated clubs were best placed to get through the pandemic.”

The annual report has also revealed the full details of how Scottish clubs utilised money made available by the R&A through a Club Relief Fund and Covid-19 Fixed Cost Grant.

The St Andrews-based organisation provided investment worth £685,000 to Scottish golf clubs, with a total of 354 clubs applied for and received the £500 Covid-19 fixed cost grant totalling £173,340.

In addition, 163 clubs were recipients of the Club Relief Fund receiving a total of £512,560 allocated. In total, 370 of Scottish Golf’s affiliated clubs received funding from one or both of the R&A Club Relief Fund.

In addition to former Aberdeen Standard Investments chairman Gilbert taking over as chair, the meeting also saw Pauline Lockhart, Caroline Mansley and Fraser Thornton elected to the board as non-executive directors.

“I leave Scottish Golf under the excellent stewardship of Karin Sharp and Iain Forsyth (chief commercial officer),” said Cannon at the end of a six-year terms.

“It gives me great pleasure to know that Scottish Golf will be in safe hands as Martin Gilbert, one of Scotland’s best-known business figures, is set to become Chair at this year’s Annual General Meeting.

“Martin has been a prominent supporter of golf in Scotland for over 20 years, firstly through Aberdeen Asset Management and latterly Aberdeen Standard Investments.

“This is a tremendous coup for golf in Scotland and the entire game should be delighted that Martin, whose passion and support for the sport are very widely known, has agreed to take on this role.”
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: David_Tepper on March 07, 2021, 02:06:28 PM
Brian E. -

Good news and thanks for reporting. Hopefully the increase in members at some clubs will generate enough incremental revenue to help cushion the loss of revenue from the decrease in visitor play.

DT
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on March 07, 2021, 02:53:57 PM
Whenever an organisation, whether it be golf or other, releases details such as these it’s usually worth carefully analysing the numbers. Selective numbering and selective statistics are not unknown. And isn’t the lady whose name is mentioned in seeming good light in the report the same lady who has been pilloried in previous such reporting and threads herein?
Atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Marty Bonnar on March 07, 2021, 03:29:57 PM
It’s hilarious that Scottish Golf needed a global pandemic to increase membership and participation at Scottish golf courses. They sure as hell were failing spectacularly before it.
F.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on April 14, 2021, 03:25:24 AM
Tax Payer bailing out Gleneagles with £5 million of furlough money ... WOW!




https://www.thegolfbusiness.co.uk/2021/04/gleneagles-posts-5m-loss-due-to-covid/ (https://www.thegolfbusiness.co.uk/2021/04/gleneagles-posts-5m-loss-due-to-covid/)


Gleneagles posts £5m loss due to Covid
By Alistair Dunsmuir
April 14, 2021 07:21 UPDATED

The host of the 2014 Ryder Cup, Gleneagles, has become the latest major golf resort to post a loss for the last financial year due to coronavirus.

It is the resort’s first loss in a decade.

In the 15 months ending just after the lockdown started in March 2020, it suffered a pre-tax loss of £5.2 million.

Its financial report noted that the emergence of Covid-19 was hugely significant because it led to fewer bookings in the first quarter of 2020 – particularly from the group bookings the hotel is reliant on.

The resort received £5m from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, along with a £3.9m loan from its parent company.

As a result, the directors have tested various models of the business to check how the pandemic has impacted cash flow.

One model showed that a strong summer performance would be enough to enable the hotel to operate for a year without additional funding being required.

The report stated that further lending will not be required within 12 months and its latest bank loan is not due for repayment until 2024, although the parent entity agreed to waive covenant reporting until the “economic conditions are likely to be less volatile”.

Managing director Conor O’Leary explained that the company had been well supported by its bank and was hopeful of better trading in 2021.

“During the summer of 2020 the hotel was able to achieve reasonable occupancy levels and operate profitably within the revised Covid-19 guidelines,” he wrote. “This gives the directors confidence over the company’s outlook for the remainder of 2021.

“A multi-million pound investment programme is on-going, with new meeting and event spaces, the reopened Strathearn restaurant, upgrades to golf club facilities and redevelopment of the retail arcade.”
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on April 14, 2021, 05:25:01 AM
Tax Payer bailing out Gleneagles with £5 million of furlough money ... WOW!
Of which £3.9m was as part of the Covid job retention scheme, so went to employees who would otherwise have been redundant.  I'm not sure there's any "Wow" to this news, which surely replicates the sort of amount paid to any large hospitality business with similar numbers of employees as Gleneagles.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on April 14, 2021, 06:33:00 AM
Tax Payer bailing out Gleneagles with £5 million of furlough money ... WOW!
Of which £3.9m was as part of the Covid job retention scheme, so went to employees who would otherwise have been redundant.  I'm not sure there's any "Wow" to this news, which surely replicates the sort of amount paid to any large hospitality business with similar numbers of employees as Gleneagles.
I agree, it will be pretty standard for anything based on making its money via overseas visitors. 2021 will be difficult as well as many people find it difficult to make overseas travel plans the dry side of October. The furlough scheme is great for the employee but generally companies have not been given much. Overall I would say the government have done pretty good in keeping things alive, the only thing that really seems to have gone bust is the retail shops, which were on a knife edge before with the impact of online shopping.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on April 14, 2021, 07:05:50 AM
See this link for the ‘Sports Sustainable Fund Awards’ given to golf clubs in Northern Ireland by presumably the authorities who run NI - https://static.clubhouse.golfireland.ie/clubs/1000/uploads/files/club_support/ni%20sustainability%20fund%20grants.pdf (https://static.clubhouse.golfireland.ie/clubs/1000/uploads/files/club_support/ni%20sustainability%20fund%20grants.pdf)
Total fund award £4.2m of which £1.6m awarded to Royal County Down, £0.8m to Royal Portrush with the balance split between 23 other clubs.
Atb

Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on April 14, 2021, 11:11:25 AM
Of which £3.9m was as part of the Covid job retention scheme, so went to employees who would otherwise have been redundant.  I'm not sure there's any "Wow" to this news, which surely replicates the sort of amount paid to any large hospitality business with similar numbers of employees as Gleneagles.


I still read it as £5 million for furloughing.


I guess its all down to personal circumstances, and I am not a believer in furloughing, and certainly not to bail out places like Gleneagles.


Will soon need to change the thread title to Scotland is sinking fast.



Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: James Reader on April 14, 2021, 12:24:27 PM
Of which £3.9m was as part of the Covid job retention scheme, so went to employees who would otherwise have been redundant.  I'm not sure there's any "Wow" to this news, which surely replicates the sort of amount paid to any large hospitality business with similar numbers of employees as Gleneagles.


I still read it as £5 million for furloughing.


I guess its all down to personal circumstances, and I am not a believer in furloughing, and certainly not to bail out places like Gleneagles.


Will soon need to change the thread title to Scotland is sinking fast.


I agree with Mark.  This isn’t “bailing out Gleneagles”, it’s continuing to pay the wages of its employees, most of whom would otherwise have been made redundant (as would almost everyone else in the hospitality industry).  Has the business benefitted from it in some way?  I suppose they’ve saved the statutory redundancy and rehiring costs that they’d have incurred, and are in a much better place to start up again as soon as they’re allowed, but to my mind the overwhelming beneficiaries here are the employees.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on April 14, 2021, 02:33:58 PM
And of course, lets not forget the £4.6m paid out in dividends during this period.


WOW
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Duncan Cheslett on April 16, 2021, 12:04:17 AM
And of course, lets not forget the £4.6m paid out in dividends during this period.


WOW


I think you’ll find that those dividends were paid in the year ending 31st March 2020 - prior to the pandemic.


https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/SC097000/officers (https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/SC097000/officers)




Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jeff Schley on April 16, 2021, 02:06:15 AM
A stat that would be interesting is what % of members are overseas members for Scottish clubs?  I'm sure this is heavily skewed at the top clubs, but I believe you have local, country, overseas membership levels. Anyone know any stats on the breakdowns?
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Sean_A on April 16, 2021, 02:41:04 AM
Of which £3.9m was as part of the Covid job retention scheme, so went to employees who would otherwise have been redundant.  I'm not sure there's any "Wow" to this news, which surely replicates the sort of amount paid to any large hospitality business with similar numbers of employees as Gleneagles.


I still read it as £5 million for furloughing.


I guess its all down to personal circumstances, and I am not a believer in furloughing, and certainly not to bail out places like Gleneagles.


Will soon need to change the thread title to Scotland is sinking fast.

The title of the thread would make sense if you deleted the last three words.

Ciao
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on April 16, 2021, 04:26:25 AM
Wonder if Trump Aberdeen received any £ under this scheme? :)
In fact sight of a spreadsheet detailing which golf facilities got what would be interesting.
Atb
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on April 16, 2021, 05:10:27 AM
Brian - I can't agree with you that furloughing was not right.


It has been essential in keeping business alive.


Simply....WITHOUT it 80% would be bust if forced to pay wages when the business may have been closed for up to a year.


If allowed to release employees without redundancy payment then unemployment would be massive.


Perhaps you need to reconsider about being a non believer in furlough.


I agree Golf in Scotland is no longer sinking fast. Covid has been kind to golf.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Mark Pearce on April 16, 2021, 02:18:49 PM
I agree with all of that Adrian.  The furlough scheme meant that many businesses were able to keep hold of staff who would otherwise have been made redundant.  I suspect in the end that would have been just as expensive for the Exchequer.  Moreover, I know that a lot of businesses who would probably have made redundancies this time last year not only didn't because of the scheme but have since, because things weren't as bad for those businesses, returned the money, despite having used it properly.  To be honest, I'm surprised to find anyone who thinks the furlough scheme was a bad idea.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on April 17, 2021, 02:38:56 AM
You talk as though the Furlough scheme (and the Pandemic) is over.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Jeff Schley on April 17, 2021, 02:49:49 AM
  To be honest, I'm surprised to find anyone who thinks the furlough scheme was a bad idea.
Mark fully agree. Let us not forget what the alternative would have been. Some projections in the US had unemployment as high as 30% without the paycheck protection program. It was successful in keeping employees from separating from their jobs and then going on unemployment. Yes it was costly, but such are interventions to address once in a 100 year pandemics. Pay now and figure out the finances later. 
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Niall C on April 17, 2021, 05:06:37 AM
I agree with the furlough scheme in a general sense and given the timescales it needed to be a fairly broad-brush approach in how it operated but I suspect where Brian is coming from is that a lot of these sizeable companies are in a position to absorb a lot of the extra carrying costs of staff and should look at paying back the money when things have stabilised, which in fairness is what a lot of big companies have done. After all from the report it appears that Gleneagles kept investing in their property over the period.


Niall
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Brian_Ewen on May 20, 2022, 07:31:03 AM
Who would have thought, it would take a pandemic to save golf in Scotland?




https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-61491324 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-61491324)


Why did lockdown boost golf in Scotland?
By Ben Philip
BBC Scotland


Jodie Stalker took up golf for something to do outdoors during the pandemic because she could no longer play netball indoors.

The 27-year-old said her new hobby was due to the frustration at her usual routine being disrupted.

Her story is not uncommon, as recent data has suggested there are now more people playing golf in Scotland than before the pandemic.

There are now more than 200,000 golfers registered across the country.

Golf is one of Scotland's most famous exports.

In July, The Open Championship will be held at the sport's birthplace at St Andrews.

The oldest major marks its 150th tournament this year, returning to the fabled Old Course for the first time in seven years.

Recent data from Scottish Golf and the R&A - the organisation that governs golf worldwide - found that 5.3 million adult golfers played nine or 18 holes in Great Britain and Ireland in 2020.

The latest figures for 2021 show the figure dropped to 4.8 million, still considerably higher than the 3 million recorded in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

It is thought much of the surge in players has been down to the sport's ability to be played safely outdoors while other sports including football and rugby were subject to Covid restrictions.


Teaching assistant Ms Stalker, from Ellon in Aberdeenshire, took up the game early last year.

"I couldn't go to netball - golf was something I could go and do instead," she told BBC Scotland.

"It was outdoors and you didn't have the fear of catching Covid or taking Covid back to my family.

"It was a bit daunting as there's a lot of golf etiquette - you're just this numpty on the golf course that's hitting your ball into the long grass.

"But everyone has been very supportive and now I'd go to any golf club and play."


Karin Sharp, chief operating officer of Scottish Golf, described the situation as "hugely encouraging".

She said: "There's no secret that over the last 10 years membership numbers across the game in Scotland have been in decline.

"However, 2020 saw an uplift of just under 7% and last year saw a further uplift of more than 7%.

"We now have a total playing membership of 208,000 golfers registered across Scotland and that's the highest its been since 2012. It's great to see and hopefully it can be sustained moving forward.

"It's now on us as a sport to ensure that the people who have come back into golf taken up golf in the past couple of years, that we work with clubs to keep those players engaged in the game."


It has been a real shot in the arm for Scotland's 550 golf courses.

Inverurie Golf Club in Aberdeenshire has seen an increase of more than 100 members during the pandemic to 760.

'Crying out for juniors'

Ashley Wilson, the club manager, said: "Demand for golf increased significantly. We actually had to curtail our members and enforce a restriction of three rounds per week per member because the demand was that significant."

Much of the success at Inverurie has been down to its junior programme.

Before the pandemic, there were only two junior members at the club and now more than 100 young players attend weekly training sessions, run by dozens of qualified coaches and volunteers.

"It's the future of the club," said Ben Zanre, the junior convenor.

"I think mums and dads after the strictest restrictions were lifted wanted to get their kids doing activities outside

"I think there's a perception that golf isn't accessible to all. However, I think it's as accessible as it ever has been and golf clubs across Scotland are crying out for juniors."

Now that life has largely returned to normal, competition has once again ramped up to secure people's time.

However, it is hoped major competitions such as The Open being held in Scotland will encourage even more people to take up an interest in the sport.
Title: Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
Post by: Thomas Dai on May 20, 2022, 12:30:53 PM
Worth watching - perspectives and why folks play .....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Ct0RVluno

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nE0bQeZII8

Likely more episodes to come.
atb