Global Edition

Cut backs at Golf England?

12.05am 18th February 2003 - Corporate

Under the heading ‘AA Exceptional Item’ an announcement in the preliminary (unaudited) results for the year ended 31 December 2002 of parent company Centrica Plc states that ‘the group has decided to reduce the operations of Golf England Limited, a subsidiary undertaking.’ Other parts of Centrica Plc include such other well-known operations as British Gas, One-Tel and Goldfish Bank.

The note goes on to state that the group has recognised a £14m provision in respect of losses on the expected disposal of fixed assets.

The English Golf Union and AdvancedWave are the other partners in Golf England whose role is to provide clubs and golfers with a broad range of golf-related benefits. Specifically these are to reduce clubs’ costs, to increase clubs’ revenues, to improve administration and services to members and to secure the game’s future by putting investment back into the game.

Golf Business has so far been unable to obtain any official statement from either Golf England or the English Golf Union. It is understood, however, that more information will be forthcoming within the next few days and these announcements will be reported as soon as possible.

It is, perhaps, no secret that interest in Golf England’s package of benefits has come primarily from the newer, proprietary golf clubs while many of the more traditional members clubs have been, at best, lukewarm about the benefits and, at worst, extremely suspicious of the motives driving the scheme.

Recently there has been some evidence that the persistence of Golf England’s directors has been paying off. Nearly five hundred golf clubs have now signed up for the package of benefits. This includes a group purchasing scheme that will get even better as the organisation grows.

Although over the past six months there has been a very real increase in the number of member clubs, Golf England may not have been growing fast enough to meet Centrica’s earlier expectations. A large amount of cash has already been fed into the game on top of the costs to date of administration and promotion.

It is thought that Golf England has been trading exceptionally well in the past few weeks. Whether this will be enough to keep the head office accountants happy remains to be seen. Some lessons will have been learned that can help the scheme move forward. There is perhaps one last chance that the concept can be made to work.

Golf England

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