I’ll never forget my seventh birthday, writes Daniel Hodson. My twin brother and I were convinced we would be given a pair of cool Raleigh Grifters, and had spent weeks planning potential outings on our new red bikes.
Our father, as it turns out, had other ideas. Instead of bikes, he cut down an old set of golf clubs and split them into half . . . with my share coming in the form of a 5, 7, 9 and SW.
It was the best gift he could ever have given me, as that birthday present introduced me to a game that has provided me with friends for life, a career that has never felt like work, and a set of values that I hold true to this day. I have been a proud golfer ever since.
While I’ve always loved playing the game, I also developed from an early age a desire to see the sport flourish and grow; to fan the flames or otherwise watch the embers of this great game fizzle out. That’s why I’m so committed to helping golf clubs develop their business – and why I’m so desperate to help them in their hour of need.
The golf industry, like so many other sectors across the UK, is currently being squeezed like never before by the coronavirus.
At a time when clubs are usually collecting membership fees, Chairs are instead calling crisis management meetings while Finance Directors are left looking for rabbits to pull out of hats in order to help them weather the coronavirus storm.
Reassuringly, they’re not alone. There are very few boards in the country that can confidently predict that their club will be in robust financial health at the end of the lockdown period.
And while admittedly, none of us have ever faced a situation quite like this before, the various leadership roles I have served within highly successful golf businesses such as Crown Golf, DeVere Resorts, Macdonald Resorts and Playmore Golf, combined with the consultancy services I have provided to numerous UK, European and US individual golf businesses, have led me to the conclusion that there are very few commercial problems that are completely insurmountable.
I know there are hundreds of boards out there who are comfortable that, as far as they realistically can, they have their plans firmly in place, written, detailed and shared with their respective leadership groups. The very fact that they have been in a position where they’ve been able to do so is a great credit to them.
However, I am also aware from conversations I’ve had within the sector over the past few, deeply unsettling weeks, that there are hundreds of boards who are feeling the strain as we enter the most commercially challenging times in history.
That’s why I and my associates are volunteering our services on a pro bono basis to those boards who feel that the current crisis is beyond their levels of expertise; who are genuinely fearful of what the coronavirus will do to their club, and who are willing to consider alternative ways of working in order to create a plan that will serve them throughout the next few months and beyond.
Together, we can help collect subscriptions, even in cases where members usually pay by cash; communicate with members to ensure they remain on board; prepare a reopening plan; negotiate payment holidays for equipment on finance and create a targeted marketing plan to ensure the younger generations return to the club once they are released from lockdown.
It is important to me to stress that there will be no charge whatsoever for this service. We have all seen the wide range of practical and emotional support offered within communities up and down the country. These golf clubs are mini communities that have existed for hundreds of years, they’re where I and many of my friends and colleagues grew up and learned lifelong skills and they are facing a challenge like never before. I, like so many others, am simply desperate to help.
By joining forces and combining our strengths, we really can all make a difference. Now let’s give this game the shot it truly deserves.
Hodson Consultants are world-leading leisure industry experts. For free advice and support, contact Daniel Hodson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07971 211691