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Sean_A

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #275 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
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #276 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.

Mark Mammel

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #277 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.
So much golf to play, so little time....

Mark

Sean_A

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #278 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
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #279 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.

Kalen Braley

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #280 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...

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #281 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
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #282 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  ::)

Duncan Cheslett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #283 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!







Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #284 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
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Adrian_Stiff

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #285 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.


A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Jeff Schley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #286 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.
"To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice your gifts."
- Steve Prefontaine

Duncan Cheslett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #287 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?  :)
« Last Edit: May 16, 2020, 04:22:37 AM by Duncan Cheslett »

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #288 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

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #289 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
« Last Edit: May 16, 2020, 04:48:37 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Duncan Cheslett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #290 on: May 16, 2020, 04:49:22 AM »
This would make a great topic for discussion on one of our Zoom get-togethers.

Jeff Schley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #291 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.
"To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice your gifts."
- Steve Prefontaine

Adrian_Stiff

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #292 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.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Jeff Schley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #293 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.
"To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice your gifts."
- Steve Prefontaine

Brian_Ewen

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #294 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.”


Mark Pearce

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #295 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. 
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Duncan Cheslett

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #296 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!


 
« Last Edit: June 21, 2020, 01:05:16 AM by Duncan Cheslett »

Niall C

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #297 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

Mark Chaplin

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #298 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.
Cave Nil Vino

Brian_Ewen

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #299 on: June 22, 2020, 03:06:49 AM »

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