It is now certain that the crisis surrounding The Coronavirus will be with us for some time. As a result, the Management Committee has had to make decisions in a number of areas:
1. The AGM. The Club AGM and the Ladies AGM have been postponed. Under the Club’s Articles of Association, an AGM should be held within 15 months of the previous AGM, which gives us until early July. Should circumstances dictate that it is not possible to hold an AGM within that timeframe, the Management Committee will assume continuing powers until such time as an AGM can be held. Regarding the changes in Club Officers, it has been decided that, in the absence of alternative candidates, the incoming Captain, Vice Captain and Lady Captain will assume their positions without the benefit of a vote, holding their positions de facto until a vote can be held.
2. Finances. I think it important that we set out our financial position in some detail – it’s your club and your money so you are entitled to know where we stand. Every year the finance committee spends many hours going through our budget line by line trying to find ways of keeping our costs down. This year we concluded that it would cost £864,000, including bar purchases of £49,000, to run the club. Our main source of income (70%) is members’ subscriptions and the balance comes from a range of sources such as green fees, societies, rent etc.
We also have to contend with a declining membership, albeit we are well below the average rate of decline for golf clubs. Encouragingly, our recruitment has been good in the last few months and our age profile is reducing. But interest in joining has dried up in the last few weeks and is unlikely to return until this crisis is over. The end result is that we had to recommend a £100 increase in subscriptions. However, we have a responsibility to look after each other in this crisis and we recognise some members may be struggling financially, so we are proposing that the subscriptions are left unchanged for this year. Renewal notices will go out as usual at the beginning of April and if you pay before 1 June you will get two green fee vouchers which can be used in the following 12 months.
Our main immediate concern is cash flow. Our subscriptions come in during May/June and we have a large bank balance which is used up through the year. Come March/April the balance drops to its lowest point, so the current crisis has hit us at our weakest point for cash flow. We also suspect some members may choose not to renew until the crisis is over. If you are thinking of that can I please urge you to reflect and to support your club by paying your subscriptions on time. We all need to do our bit if we want to ensure the Club survives. We are doing everything we can to keep the course open and although the social side will be restricted you can get out there and play.
The other challenge we are facing is that income from green fees, societies and social events has all but dried up and this follows on from a lean period caused by the exceptional rain. These sources give us some £200,000 a year and we don’t know how long the crisis will last so we cannot say how much below budget we will be.
However, it is not all doom and gloom and I believe we will get through this. Yesterday the Chancellor made an announcement about Government support for business. He will be making further announcements. In response to a journalist who asked about whether businesses should be waiting before making decisions to make staff redundant now he said: “Yes definitely say take a moment. The package of support from last week and today plus more to come. Support is on its way in various forms. We’ll help you get through it. Don’t rush into decisions.” Our wages bill is over £300,000 and I am hoping we will be able to get help with this. Our staff are loyal and hardworking and we want to support them so we wish to avoid laying people off if we can.
The Chancellor announced we will not pay any rates this year, saving us £45,000. Our rateable value is in excess of £90,000 so we don’t qualify for the £25,000 grant. The Chancellor also announced government loans which will be interest free for three months. We may take advantage of that to tide us over, but we wouldn’t want to increase our debt long term.
Finally, we have had offers of support from some members who are in a position to do so. If you think you can help us let Gareth or Ivor know
3. Competitions. The International Event, scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed until later in the year. Date TBC
4. Bar and Catering. Bar and catering hours are currently under review. Current government advice is that pubs and clubs can remain open, although people are discouraged from visiting them. Our own bar and catering will remain open as long as this guidance exists and depending upon usage.
5. Professional’s Shop. Members are requested to use the shop on a ‘one in – one out’ basis, ie, only one customer at a time in the shop. Members are requested not to assemble in the shop before playing. The swing studio will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Any lessons will take place outside.
6. Buggies. Buggies will be single use only. An adjustment to the price will be made. All buggies will be cleaned after use, before being taken out again.
7. Social Occasions. The St George’s evening party is regrettably cancelled. Captains’ Night Out will be rescheduled.
8. On Course. To minimise the chance of cross contamination, rakes will be removed from bunkers and ball washing facilities will be removed from the course. Please do not shake hands, share clubs and always putt leaving the flag in place.
9. The Office. Members are requested to use the office for essential business only.
It is hoped that members understand the need for the above measures. The Management Committee’s policy is to try and continue to make golf available to members throughout the full period of the crisis. We will also try and keep bar and catering facilities available, although times may have to be limited. If members don’t follow the social distancing guidelines we may have to close the bar so please help us protect our staff. There is little doubt that the situation will change from day to day as the government and its agencies change the advice and rules and much of the above advice may change as a result.
The current Government guidelines on social distancing are restricting our options for exercise. Golf is lucky in the respect that keeping one’s distance from fellow players is easily achieved. We urge you to keep playing golf, not least to keep you fit and better able to withstand the virus should you be unlucky enough to catch it.
The Club can survive the crisis, but there is little doubt that finances will become an issue. To that end, the Club will depend on its members for their continuing loyalty and support. Together, we can get through this.
Chairman, Management Committee