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The members’ open forum on Monday was attended by a number of off-peak and 'afternoon golfers’ with approximately a dozen people present.
From the outset, the Board reiterated its commitment to our private members club where ‘just turn and play’ is a key benefit and generating additional visitor revenue during quieter periods each day would very much help retain that ethos.
It was further emphasized that on line tee bookings will not be available when the course is very busy with competitions, societies or special events like Captains' week.
Assurances were also given that once four bookings had been taken in any time window, the remaining times in that window would be blocked and no further visitor bookings allowed.
However, some separate and very valid points were made by attendees including the fact the club will need to maintain standards of dress and etiquette as well as try to ensure that all visitors are regular golfers.
Based on Monday’s feedback, it was also agreed to amend the Saturday time slot to 3pm- 4pm as opposed to 2pm-3pm to give members more time to play on what can be a busy day. Finally, we will seek to ensure that visitors do not use this proposal to make repeat bookings simply to by-pass the normal membership route.
Attendees were assured that we will be monitoring the visitor booking process and will hold another forum in October to report back on what has worked well and where we could make improvements for 2019.
In the interim, our secretary and professional are aware of the above issues and will be responsible for ensuring that, as far as possible, visitors meet the required standards and that the system is not abused by repeat bookings.
Both the secretary and the professional have full authority to cancel bookings and refund fees where appropriate as well as full discretion to block out legitimately available tee times on any day or week where they believe the course could become unexpectedly busy thereby giving priority to our members.
Subject to system testing and staff training the proposed visitor booking system will go-live in mid-July with time slots available for booking 14 days earlier.
Increasing Green Fee Revenue through On-Line Visitor Booking
As you are aware, while the Club has been profitable over the last two years, we do need to make further investments on and off the course both to retain existing members and to attract new ones. At the same time, feedback to the Board has been clear in that we must continually look at alternative methods of revenue generation, rather than simply place an additional burden on our members through subscription increases.
The recent Hillier-Hopkins benchmarking study indicated that other Clubs were generating significant additional revenue in one key area - green fees from visitors. By way of illustration, releasing just 15 tee times per week for visitors to book on-line could, over time, generate an additional £40,000 per year for our Club.
That sum would be equivalent to a £70 increase in annual subscription per member and these additional green fees would help fund the investment required to replace the greens equipment as presented at this year's AGM.
It’s something which other clubs in the area have successfully introduced and it’s a move which your Board believe should be given serious consideration by members of our golf club. However, we also realise how highly our members value the ability to just "turn up and play" and significant safeguards would be put in place to maintain this key member benefit.
Please read the attached proposals, then join us at an open forum for discussion in the clubhouse at: 7.00 p.m. - 9.00 p.m. on Monday, 11 June
If you can’t make it that evening, please email any questions to [email protected] by Thursday, 7 June. We’ll respond via email and will raise as many points as possible during the open forum.
The Board believe these proposals could have a significantly beneficial impact on the club’s financial future, with minimal impact on your playing experience - but we want to hear your views and ensure that all members have the chance to put forward amendments and improvement ideas before any final decisions are made.
Kind regards, Mike Aves, Chairman
Additional Green Fee Revenue
Members will be aware from recent AGM presentations that the Club has been comparing its performance with other local clubs and has also participated in the Hillier Hopkins benchmarking study consisting of some 83 golf clubs across the UK. The key objective has been to identify revenue generating and/or cost saving opportunities that will help both minimise future subscription increases and help fund the necessary investments required to retain and attract new members. One area worthy of consideration by members relates to the generation of addition green revenue from visitors where it is clear that the Club may be missing out on a material opportunity compared to our peers and competitors.
The Club has previously utilised addition green fees as part of a barter agreement to pay for the BRS software. Under this agreement, the Club had free use of BRS’s software in return for allowing BRS to “sell” 2 tee-off times, on-line, each afternoon for a minimum of £20 per player. However, there was no integration or coordination with existing Club competitions or friendlies etc and the Secretary was often required to shuffle these bookings to more acceptable tee times. In addition, it was found that BRS were on occasions, selling their 2 tee times at the last minute for much less than £20 solely to generate revenue for themselves. As a result, the agreement was terminated and we do not currently generate any on-line green fees from visitors at a time when this this is increasingly the preferred method of booking for many golfers.
Even with the benefit of recent one-off items such as the VAT, Council Tax and Water Rates refunds, the Club continues to exist on a hand to mouth basis which has resulted in the deferral of key investments both on the course and in the club-house. Members will also be aware that much of the greens equipment, which was last upgraded between 5 and 10 years ago, will soon come to the end of its useful economic life and require replacing over the next 2 -3 years. The attention of members is also drawn to the following: -
The Club recently visited Abbeydale Golf Club to compare approaches, experiences and systems required to generate additional green fees. Following that meeting, it was concluded that a workable solution is, subject to member communication and consultation, viable and could generate material additional funds for the Club over the next 2 -3 years.
While the software and systems required are already in use at the Club, successful implementation will require the creation of a limited number of bookable, on-line tee times each day, during the afternoon, when the course is underutilised. As stated previously, this is increasingly the preferred method of booking for visitors and the benefit is that there is no additional cost to the Club in terms of administration or marketing material.
In terms of revenue, take up may be limited in the first year there is a clear expectation that visitors would pay “the going rate” and thereby make the proposal both worthwhile and cash generative for the Club. All on-line tee-times will be paid in full at the time of booking and are non-refundable thereby guaranteeing the revenue in advance unless the course is closed. By way of illustration, 1 four-ball booking per day mid-week could, depending on the tee time, generate an additional £10k of revenue for the Club. To match the performance of the 2 local clubs above could only require 15 tee times across the entire week to generate an additional £40k every year. To put that in perspective, generating £40k from our approx. 550 members would require each one to pay an additional £70 every year. Further details on the proposed approach are in Appendix A.
Member Safeguards and Controls
It is fully accepted that members are less than enthusiastic about booking tee times and highly value the ability to “turn up and play”. For that reason the following controls have been put in place for members.
Mike Aves & John Begley, Chairman & Honorary Treasurer
1st June 2018
Download the full document including Appendix A here.