Club raises £70,000 in one week from coronavirus appeal

Alistair
By Alistair April 5, 2020 11:05 Updated

A Scottish golf club that feared it was about to close down due to the coronavirus lockdown has said a series of initiatives it launched to raise money has brought in a life-saving total of £70,000 in one week.

Brora Golf Club introduced platinum life membership and international lifetime membership categories on its website to purchase, along with the ability to, for example, buy merchandise from the pro shop, sponsor holes, get a lesson from the club pro and buy green fees that can be redeemed in the future.

Club president Andy Stewart said: “Two weeks ago I was looking at a black hole and had little confidence we could fill it. We had a budget for visitor income of £350,000 and everything, all of our year, was planned around that number.

“I am far more confident now, given the level of support we have had.

“We were one of the first clubs to react to the situation and others are now following suit.”

The 17th fairway and 2nd green at Brora Golf Club

Orders flooded in not just for merchandise but also for membership, reports The Northern Times. Straight donations have also been made.

Also popular have been vouchers to play golf at Brora in the future.

“The whole social media response has been absolutely incredible. In the last week alone we have raised just over £70,000,” said Stewart.

“On Wednesday I packed the car full with parcels containing merchandise people had bought from the pro shop.

“We would very much like to recognise the response we have had in particular from our own members. They have been fantastic.”

The investment has given the club a breathing space but it has been stressed that the support needed to continue.

Meanwhile, the treasurer of a Scottish golf club has called for leadership within the golf industry as the coronavirus lockdown presents unique challenges for golf clubs.

Within Scotland alone golf clubs such as Nigg Bay and Dunblane New have been awarded emergency funding of £25,000, but some clubs such as Duddingston have been told they will not receive this.

Speaking to The Scotsman, Uphall Golf Club treasurer Bill Mackintosh said golf clubs are not in the same boat as, for example, gyms.

“We are getting some requests for membership cancellations, but not many so far,” he said. “One lady wrote to us today and said: ‘Is the golf club doing what gyms are doing?’

“I’m a member at the David Lloyd Club at Corstorphine and they wrote almost straight away saying they would not be taking any direct debits for the time being.

“But they can get their costs down really low. They shut the place up, furlough all the staff and save on all their energy costs, which is a massive outgoing for them. They can squeeze that right down, but a golf club can’t do that.

Image from Facebook

“Our golf club has done that the best we can. We’ve got working documents which are to do with how we can run on less greenstaff if the government come out and say they are no longer key workers.

“We’ve looked at our finances, though we are waiting with trepidation on our monthly direct debit report to see who has cancelled. That is due over the next couple of days.

“Have they cancelled permanently? Have they just suspended it due to having other priorities?

“Scottish Golf used to provide good business advice. We had great sessions with a guy called Iain Evans in the past. It might be Janet and John stuff, but it would be helpful.

“We are fortunate at Uphall, My background is finance and we have a good balance on a small committee.

“Other golf courses might be more, and I need to phrase this carefully, be more lay people. People who are great at fixing or organising things, but don’t have any financial acumen and don’t know where to go for help.

“That sort of stuff from Scottish Golf would be helpful. It’s leadership we are looking for. That would be appreciated by some more than others.

“Some clubs will feel they have it absolutely under control. The clubs I fear for most other than the really small ones are the ones that rely heavily on visitor income.

“That, for us, is about 10 per cent of our direct golf related income. I’m a member at Tantallon down at North Berwick and that will be completely the other way round.

“They’ve got big structures and great structures in place at these clubs but, all of a sudden the cancellations will be wholesale from America.”

Mackintosh added that his club has parked Scottish Golf’s new Venue Management System (VMS) for the time being.

“We had a constructive discussion about their strategy and the new VMS,” he said. “We perceived that it has become all-consuming for them. They have really geared up on that.

“We have tried to run it side-by-side with our current system, but we have parked that at the moment. That is the least of our worries. That system might be great, but they seem to have put a hell of an amount of eggs into that one basket.

“We don’t know what has happened to Scottish Golf’s development officers while we have been reading recently about people leaving (development director Ross Duncan and head of operations Louise Burke).”

And Lochwinnoch Golf Club has said day-trippers have visited the club from miles away – in some cases to even have picnics.

A spokesman told the Daily Record: “We had people having a picnic on the golf course, pushing prams up and down the course, people travelling from Paisley and Glasgow to walk their dogs.

“We also had a visit from Police Scotland Air Division, who seemed to have a prolonged flyover.”

The spokesman also said the course is still being worked on by staff using heavy machinery and anyone walking on the course could be at risk.

He added: “Please be careful as our course is still a working area with greenkeepers using machinery and we would hate for anyone to be hurt by accident.

“We appreciate all our members adhering to the guidelines and ceasing to play golf on a daily basis.

“We would like to bring to your attention that, while the course is closed for golfers, our green staff are still working.

“They are using this time to work on improvements to the course for the season starting whenever we have the go-ahead.

“Just because our members can’t play doesn’t mean that the course is somehow turned into a recreational area for playing football, walking with prams or as a dog park, especially those not picking up after their dogs.”

The course has put signs across the area telling people not to enter, but these are being ignored.

The spokesman said the course can’t be shut fully because it has access to various properties in the area.

Alistair
By Alistair April 5, 2020 11:05 Updated

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