January 11th 2021
Further to my update last week advising members on the state of the course following the flooding and the hope of re-opening, it was desperately disappointing to then hear Boris’s statement on the return of a severe lockdown for an extended period. This announcement was not a particular surprise but I had been hoping and, indeed, expecting that some level of golfing would still be a permitted activity even if restricted to members only within a given distance from their home club as is the situation in Scotland.
As soon as there is any further relaxation of the restrictions I will write out again to members but there are a couple of specifics that I want to communicate.
Firstly for our golfing members I have been asked by Sharren Kjenstad and Ollie Wright to relay the following message :
Due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the bad weather causing the flood conditions and also having been closed due to Covid-19 we will have to cancel the Winter League and the Cornthwaite Bowl as there is not enough time to now play them.
As such all monies will be refunded back to the competition charge accounts.
We are however hoping to play the summer knock-outs and will be in touch with members to advise when these will be available to enter.
Thank you from the competitions committee
Sharren Kjenstad and Ollie Wright
Secondly for all members across the club I want to take the opportunity to provide some insight into how the club has fared over 2020. As everyone is fully aware the pandemic has presented the club and its members with a significant set of challenges ranging from the health impact on those individuals who have been unfortunate enough to have contracted this dreadful disease to the restrictions on being able or, not being able, to play golf, bowls and snooker over the year and not being able to enjoy the more social aspects of membership in the bar and the absence of social functions that the club has, historically, operated.
When the first lockdown was applied back in March last year the financial outlook for the club was severe especially as we did not qualify for the main elements of financial assistance that were being provided by government. However, through the efforts of our team and numerous volunteers, the club has overcome the anticipated financial pressures and with the success in attracting 106 new members over the year and across all of the membership categories which included 35 under the points based “play more golf” initiative and also managing to accommodate a significant number of visiting players whilst minimising the impact of member’s own enjoyment of the course, the result was, financially, the club achieved a significant financial surplus over the year.
This is great news for the club and worthy of a resounding HURRAH !!!! but I am very conscious that there was disturbance to play last year and this is clearly going to continue for some time in 2021 with the current closure of the club. As well as the disturbance to members with the on going closure the impact on the club’s finances is also a consideration in that for each month the course or clubhouse remains closed the financial impact is a loss of visitor revenue (£2000 – £3000 at this time of year) and bar/restaurant profits (£4000-£5000). I am aware that there has been comment on the apparent unfairness of membership fees continuing to be payable whilst the course is closed and I believe that the most appropriate way to consider what should be done is to address the issue at our next AGM, as and when we are able to hold it, and put this matter to the membership for a decision recognising that we are a member’s club and, as such, it is appropriate that some decisions are put to the membership for resolution.
We will certainly be holding an AGM in some form this year, which may have to be virtually with relevant matters being voted on either in person, if allowable, or by paper or on-line voting. I am going to defer any decision on how and when to hold an AGM until early March by which time I hope that we will all have a better idea on an exit route from this pandemic.
Essentially, as I see it, we ended the year with a reasonable financial surplus which has enabled the club to avoid any fee increase for 2021 and it gives us an opportunity to plan for accelerating improvements across the club but, alternatively, we are in a position to effect a rebate to all members as a gesture for the disturbance incurred during 2020 and, now, in 2021and, in simple terms, it boils down to these two options.
Personally I would prefer to retain the financial surplus we have managed to achieve during 2020, despite the challenges, and use those funds to continue with the programme of improvement across the club and, maybe, commit to holding fees for existing members for, at least, 2022 rather than to effect a rebate to all members but I do believe that the decision should be for members, collectively, to make rather than the management board.
To put this into context a rebate of say 10% would give a social member a rebate of £7, bowls members a rebate of £11, a five day golf member some £73 and a seven day golf member some £87 but the cost to the club would amount to some £25,000 which could, alternatively, be used to purchase a much needed piece of course equipment, or go towards improvement programmes on the course, bowls green or club house or deferring an annual fee increase for existing members in, at least, 2022 and I believe the majority of members would support the case for the funds to be used towards improvements around the club etc rather than providing what would be a fairly immaterial rebate on an individual basis and my plan is to address this at the next AGM.
I will end this update by wishing all members well and hope that we are all able to return to some degree of normality soon.
Chairman, Ramsey Golf and Bowls Club