Winter can be a tough time for UK Golf Clubs. Typically, the weather conditions are not bad enough to close golf courses but for many regulars the colder air and inferior playing conditions are not enough to don the thermals and head out to the frosty fairways.
Financially this means fewer golfers visiting clubs and as a result, greatly reduced income from food eaten in the clubhouses and half-way stops, money spent behind the bar and in the professional shop. This presents a major challenge to balance the books across a 12 month season. The overheads at this time of year don’t change a great deal, staff need to be on hand to take care of members, heating the clubhouse is a costly exercise and the golf course needs to be kept playable and tidy by the ever present green-keeping staff.
So, what can be done to improve the balance sheet and keep revenue ticking over when the clubs are hidden behind the BBQ in the back of the shed?
“Bearwood Lakes Golf Club has bucked the general trend to cut costs, sell pieces of land and encourage nomadic membership schemes. Instead, we have invested in every aspect of our property and continually add value to the member experience,” says Marketing Manager Martyn Norris.
“For example, since Bearwood Lakes opened its doors in 1996, we have received many comments from members guests, visitors and respected journalists about the layout of the golf course. Most are extremely positive but taking on board the observations, we recognised that improvements needed to be made to improve our position as one of the finest private member clubs on the UK.
“In 2011, we took the ambitious step to draw-up a five year plan to improve every hole, engaging the services of renowned architect – Guy Hockley to oversee the project. The results are spectacular with holes that were once considered weaker improved beyond recognition.
“Away from the golf course we have invested in the practice facilities which now include a heated indoor Mizuno Performance Centre where members can analyse every aspect of their game using the very latest video technology. Car parking and infrastructure has been improved, new patio furniture purchased and the very latest innovations from Bang & Olufsen have upgraded our audio visual systems. In 2012, we were only the second golf club in England to be awarded GEO Certification in recognition of the environmental and sustainability best practices we have implemented.
“Our social events calendar has never been more jam packed with a great range of functions from Black Tie Dinners, Boot-leg Band nights and Thai Chi evenings! There is something for everyone at Bearwood Lakes – especially over the winter months when making one’s way to the first tee may not be at the forefront of every member’s mind!
“Why have we invested so much at a time when so many clubs are doing the exact opposite? We believe the only way to survive during and beyond the challenging economic conditions is to look after our members and add value to their membership. The vast majority of our members are not expecting fees to go down and membership numbers to go up. On the contrary but what they do want to see is good value for money when they part with their subscription come April 1st and we will continue to look at every aspect of the business to keep our members happy.”
Bearwood Lakes Golf Club www.bearwoodlakes.co.uk