A survey of UK golf club managers has provided an insight into how staff have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis and also how club members have reacted to the lockdown.
The survey, which carried out by The Golf Club Secretary and published in its May newsletter, draws data and anecdotal evidence from 75 golf club managers located throughout the UK.
The survey revealed that 90% of club managers were still working full-time in some capacity, while 10% had been furloughed. Of those 90%, 10% had seen their role come ‘under review’ due to Coronavirus crisis.
Of those managers that are working, many are doing so from home and coming into the club once or twice a week to check on greenstaff and pick up post, while others are more hands on, with one club manager even admitting to helping the head greenkeeper with his duties out on the course.
The average number of staff members furloughed per club was 13, with some clubs temporarily laying off as many as 30 employees under the government’s job retention scheme, which currently runs until the end of June.
In response to a question about members’ reaction to golf club closures, almost a quarter of managers (22%) said that they had received no requests from members for fee rebates or extensions, while 34% had received less than ten enquiries on this subject.
Potential member benefits or incentives are under review at 29% of clubs, while 22% of clubs had already come up with ways to reimburse the membership, by either reducing annual fees, restarting the membership year, extending it by several months to make up for the lack of golf, as well as switching from annual to monthly payments with no interest charge.
Those clubs with March and April membership renewals dates, have, not surprisingly, found it hardest to get members to re-join, with some only seeing 75% renewal rates, but the majority of clubs have seen members sign up once they’ve been informed of the need to ensure the long-term sustainability of the club.
Jeremy Ellwood, editor of The Golf Club Secretary, said: “It is interesting to see that most clubs have chosen to retain their manager’s services at the moment. For some clubs there is clearly a balancing act between retaining the services of the most critical employee to guide the club through uncharetered waters or maximise the financial assistance available from the government to reduce the impact of club finances.”