Profile of a golf club during the lockdown: Longniddry

By Alistair May 10, 2020 09:27 Updated

Longniddry in East Lothian has furloughed staff, cancelled events, negotiated payment holidays for services and, thanks to course maintenance prioritising, is looking forward to the resumption of golf with some optimism.

The former Open Championship qualifying venue has been featured in The Scotsman, in which, in an interview with Martin Dempster, club secretary Jo Kelly detailed the financial measures that had to be introduced late March. Like many golf clubs, it was not eligible to claim for a Business Support Grant as its rateable value is more than £51,000.

“Longniddry Golf Club was aware of the importance of controlling and mitigating costs as soon as the current crisis began to unfold,” he said.

Longniddry Golf Club. Image from Facebook

“The management and board negotiated payment holidays on financial agreements on a wide range of equipment used on the course, in the office and the popular coffee machine.

“All services and utilities which are not being used such as rubbish collection and electricity have been stopped or greatly reduced and several members of staff have been furloughed under the government’s Job Retention Scheme.

“We have cancelled or moved to next year many of our events and visiting golfers. This has had a big impact on visitor income for 2020, almost losing the first six months. The US Kids European Championship and the ASI Scottish Open qualifier in July are two significant events in our calendar to be cancelled or postponed.”

Arguably the most significant work has been to the Harry Colt-designed golf course, particularly as that is likely to reopen soon with the clubhouse remaining closed.

The club has a new greenkeeping team, which in itself is far from ideal timing given the Covid-19 lockdown, but course manager James Parker has also had to deal with a recent lack of rainfall as staff have been furloughed.

“Being a new greens team here in our first spring together, we are currently in the process of rectifying many historical issues that have been handed down to ourselves,” he said.

“Our recent major issue outside of Covid-19 has been with our irrigation system. In this part of the world, we have been short of rain water for a few weeks now but, thanks to a whole host of issues with our watering system from pipework to cabling, we have had an uphill struggle to retain total grass coverage on our sand-based surfaces.

“Thankfully, we have now rectified our issues, which have been difficult particularly during a period of reduced staffing and freedom of movement. Our daily grind with the system repair work on top of our social distancing has reduced our labour still further.

Longniddry Golf Club. Image from Facebook

“This has meant other areas on the course have had to wait and, therefore, we are playing catch-up, but catching up we are. Through much hard work, our small team of two are getting plenty of water out on our surfaces and they are responding well, filling out on a daily basis. With some spring nutrition, rainfall and fine grass over seeding, we will be in good shape for opening.

“Longniddry currently needs some TLC, however with the plans we have in place and the team we now have onboard Longniddry’s value will rise phenomenally in the next few years.

“It is the goal of this team to put Longniddry on the golfing map of the UK and not just East Lothian. But, like many smaller clubs, our focus just now is the survival of our club, which involves both financial prudence and the support of those within the wider golfing industry.”

By Alistair May 10, 2020 09:27 Updated

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