Over the last couple of weeks we have received a small number of adverse comments from members on the scheduling of societies and competitions on Saturday and Sunday mornings in that they negatively impact on member’s enjoyment.
Unfortunately the club is still very dependant on society and visitor income, which I have covered in more detail below, but given the recent increases in membership it has been an appropriate time to review matters so the topic was discussed again at last weeks monthly board meeting where the following decisions were taken :
: That all future society bookings would be scheduled no earlier than 11am at weekends and, later, if possible but the club would honour those bookings already in the system pre the recent lockdown. For reference there are 13 weekend society bookings in the system with a 10.30am start time between now and the end of the year which Stuart is endeavouring to move to 11am.
: That Stuart and I would meet Captain Alan and competition organiser Ollie Wright to discuss whether some weekend competitions could be moved to the afternoons to relieve pressure on the prime morning tee times for members and visitors.
Comment was also made accusing the management board for favouring society and visitor’s interests over those of our members. Not surprisingly I take particular exception to this as, in my view, the board has continually been focussed on improving the club’s financial state for the benefit of our members so it is opportune that I clarify where the club is in terms of its financial performance and future prospects.
Over 2020 and the first few months of this year we have been very successful in growing our membership both on golf and bowls which is extremely positive news but, despite, what some members believe we are still a long way from being able to manage the club’s financial needs purely from our membership income without a significant rise in membership fees which I have no doubt would not be well received. Given this very important fact that we do not have sufficient membership income, we have to look to other means to either bring additional revenue in or avoid expenditure that we would otherwise incur.
Our strategy for some years now to ensure that the club continues to prosper and aims to achieve an annual surplus has been:
- To alter individual’s roles and responsibilities particularly with Stuart who has embraced, with Judith, a far more active role in the day to day management of the club.
- Continuing to grow our membership
- Continuing to maintain and increase our society and visitor revenue which will, occasionally, impact on members which is unfortunate and we will strive to minimise such impacts but members need to be flexible and accommodating in the overall interests of the club. Our visitor revenues have grown four fold in the last 7 years and these have contributed to returning the club to a sounder financial footing and have helped with avoiding the need to increase fees but we need to maintain these levels in the interests of the members. If these revenues fell they would need to be replaced and membership fees would be the obvious source. Frequently I am told that clubs such as Brampton do not accept societies at weekends and, therefore, why do we (??) but with a membership, as I understand, north of 600 (almost double ours) their reliance on visitor revenue is significantly less, as is their course capacity, but, interestingly, I understand that they also have members often unable to book prime tee slots at weekends due to the size of their membership so not really different at all.
- Continuing with the reliance on members’ engagement with the club by volunteering on certain activities ranging from the teams supporting Neil on the golf course and bowls green to those supporting within the club house and particularly the bar and restaurant. To put the financial benefit of this support in context, our bar and restaurant volunteers, collectively, are working some 80 hours per week which will reduce post covid but not significantly and our club costs would rise by some £40,000 ++ if we had to pay for this level of work and this would rise further still if we had to engage a cleaning company to undertake the cleaning currently undertaken by volunteers organised by the respective golf and bowls committees. If this happened we would move from having a projected financial surplus to a deficit.
This reliance on volunteers is not rare in many sports clubs and, personally, I am happy to give up a significant amount of time each week to help to make the club a success and if any members would like to help with any of these aspects then please contact myself or leave a message behind the bar.
Chairman, Ramsey Golf and Bowls Club