Global Edition

UK clubs take steps to secure future during Coronavirus shutdown

12.52pm 29th March 2020 - Coronavirus News - This story was updated on Monday, March 30th, 2020

Golf clubs all over the UK are attempting to find ways of securing their futures in the face of the financial uncertainties caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

With annual membership fees due to be paid at many UK clubs at the beginning of April, some are facing the prospect of losing significant revenues as golfers evaluate the cost of being a member of a club that they cannot play while the lockdown remains in place.

Brora Golf Club in Scotland is among many UK clubs whose long-term future has been put under pressure due to a dramatic fall-off in visitor numbers. In a letter written to the 600-strong membership, club president Andy Stewart admitted the club “might not exist” beyond the current pandemic sweeping the globe unless steps were taken. 

All the club’s staff have been put in furlough, other than three key members who are working on reduced wage to assist with essential day-to-day operations to keep the club going.

To help generate revenue, the club has opened an online shop on its website, where visitors can buy club merchandise and green fee vouchers, while it is also hoping to attract support for its international and lifetime memberships. It is also offering sponsorship opportunities for individual holes on its famous James Braid-designed course. 

Stewart said: “As is the case for golf clubs across the world, this is a hugely challenging time. Our club has a dependence on visitor income in its efforts to survive and grow and, as a result, this pandemic will hit us hard. We are fighting to ensure the very survival of the club. We need every member to do whatever they can do to help the club, such as paying their 2020 subscription, or even next year’s. They could also make a deposit on their bar card or pro shop account if in a position to do so.

“We have also updated our website to create other revenue opportunities, particularly targeting our international market given many of them will be unable to visit us this year. International membership at Brora is well priced at just over £300, while we now also have an option for golfers to take out international lifetime membership and support us via other offers. Like many clubs, we are asking for the support of our members and regular visitors at this difficult time. Hopefully we can make it through this crisis and can look forward to enjoying our cherished golf club and course in the future.”

Although the message was only intended for Brora’s membership, word soon got out on social media, and the club has since been inundated with messages of support over the last few days.

Stewart said: “The original message we sent out was intended for our members and it was a great learning perspective about what can happen when people put something on social media and where it can go. The response since has been incredible and to have all that support is really powerful.”

In the face of a much-shortened golfing season, many other clubs have changed the terms of their membership package, with Royal North Devon Golf Club being one of a number of venues that have introduced 15 months for the price of 12, so that current members will enjoy three extra months golf for the same price. The club has also waived all joining fees.

If you know a golf club that is taking measures to boost revenue streams during the lockdown or is introducing innovative membership or sponsorship schemes, please let us know by emailing geoff@golfbusinesslinks.net.

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