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.”