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Communication is Key as Golf Clubs Launch Fundraising Efforts

By: | Thu 07 May 2020 | Comments

Castleisland…Killgorlin…Waterrock...Castle Barna. Four golf courses and all with one thing in common. They will not be reopening again, their fate sealed by coronavirus. And they will not be the last.

Camperdown is a superior municipal course in Dundee and its closure is a sad day for all involved with it, a decision announced by the council last year, but none of the rescue efforts succeeded. Tee markers and flags have been removed and holes have already been filled in. Ian McAlindon, Camperdown’s club captain, said: “This decision will come back to haunt the council in coming years. It’s end of an era.”

It follows the decision to close most of the council-run courses in Glasgow. Castleisland, Killgorlin, Waterrock and Castle Barna are all based Ireland, where golf is set to resume. They are courses that depended for their survival upon income from tourists - and, of course, there are no tourists.

“It is a very sad day for Camperdown’s members, the people of Dundee and golf membership holders. I feel the green staff, who transformed the course over the past three years to get it back to its championship best and have been rewarded for all their hard work by being shown the door.

“This decision was taken despite an eight per cent increase over the past few years on rounds played at the course. So many people have been thrown on the scrapheap despite supporting the course for decades. We went ahead and celebrated the 60th anniversary of our club last month, and many broke down in tears. We rallied together and came so close to saving the course. The committee, members and green staff can hold our heads up high in this travesty.

Other clubs are trying to turn the tide, with many issuing fund-raising appeals. Cavendish Golf Club in Buxton is typical. It needs £25,000 to ensure its short-term future.

In return for a donation, they are offering the following:

  • £30 - a voucher for a round of golf (£15 cheaper than normal);
  • £50 - a voucher for two rounds of golf:
  • £100 - a voucher for a four ball, with your name engraved on the club’s ’Supporters’ Wall’;
  • £250 - a voucher for a day’s golf for four people (two rounds), with two buggies and your name engraved on the ’Supporters’ Wall’;
  • £500 - a voucher for a day’s golf for four people, two buggies, a goodie bag for each player and your name engraved on the 'Supporters’ Wall’;
  • £1,000 - a prominent place on the ’Supporters’ Wall;
  • £1,500 - a bench dedicated to the donor or a loved one and your name engraved on the ’Supporters’ Wall’;
  • £5,000 - a competition in your name and 50 places in that competition, with a goodie bag for every player and your name engraved on the ’Supporters’ Wall.

St Idloes in Wales, established in 1897, has launched a GoFundMe page as it attempts to raise £15,000. The club has said it is in an “extremely difficult” situation as all events have been cancelled, while the Covid-19 pandemic arrived just after the course had experienced had high rainfall and flooding.

In a statement, the club said: “We have no income for the foreseeable future, this will not only affect our loyal, hard working staff and volunteers“Unfortunately, due to the heavy rainfall that we experienced in Mid Wales throughout 2020, playing opportunities had been limited. Eventually the rainfall stopped, some golf was played and then the coronavirus hit us. Therefore we are appealing to our members, supporters and friends to assist if at all possible.

“All funds will go directly to St Idloes Golf Club to ensure that we are able to keep things afloat during the crisis. Once this crisis has ended we hope that you will come and enjoy our golf course.”

Sadly, this looks like being the tip of the iceberg. A quick trawl around Crowdfunder reveals an increasing number of golf clubs asking for financial help. This is not to pay for fancy extras - this is money they need to survive.

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One of the lessons we have learnt during the lockdown is that there is most definitely a need for better communication between golfers and the clubs to which they belong.

Astonishingly, at a time when we al live or die by our use of social media, there are still golf clubs in the UK that have failed to embrace things like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and even basic things like communicating with members via email.

While many clubs have kept their members up top date with what is happening during the lockdown, others seem to have buried their heads in the sand in the hope that it will all just go away.

There are still many of you out there who tell us that they have heard nothing from their clubs since life in the UK changed forever on March 23. Understandably, many of you are frustrated because you haven’t been told whether you will be given extensions given that you have paid your subscriptions and are unable to play.

We all realise that members’ clubs are facing a real challenge, with staff furloughed and/or laid off. Many golf clubs live a hand-to-mouth existence - proof of that can be seen when we look at the huge number of course closures we have seen during the past 12 months. And it is a racing certainty that we will see more closing their doors for good in the weeks and months ahead.

But the ones that will thrive and survive are the ones who have embraced the technology available to them to keep their members up to date with their plans.

Golfers whose years run from April have every right to ask for a refund of some description. And many clubs have responded positively by telling them that they will be given extensions. So if, for instance, golf were to restart on June 1, they would not be asked to pay again until June 1, 2021. Other clubs have told members that they will be seeking a levy to get themselves back on a level footing. And that’s the key - they have already laid out their plans.

Many golf club members will have been affected financially by the crisis. Most of them will want to remain club members and it is vital that clubs are flexible, providing credit, delayed or deferred payments - better to know you are going to get the money at a later date than not to receive it all surely?

This is where communication is vital. If golf is to remain a sport for the community rather than for the elite, clubs will need to work with their members.

There are likely to be some recriminations when members return to club, especially those who have not been offered extensions and have failed to make any contact with the people who ensure their very survival.

We are living in the 21st century. With all the tools at our disposal there can be no excuse for failing to communicate.

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