OPINION

"Today's the day to save your golf club"

Sunset Golf Club

A number of weeks ago, I sat in my golf club’s AGM and had to stop myself from trying to escape.

Not because I don’t like the committee, or the captain, or the treasurer, but rather the small number of members who were utterly oblivious to the precarious financial situation the club found itself in.

If I had any hair, I’d have torn it out.

The main discussion on the night was the required increase in the subscription fees. The captain pointed out, very succinctly I might add, that our club was not immune to dwindling memberships and that, if we didn’t act, we’d be in trouble down the line. This was a necessary evil for the good of the club, its course, its staff and its members.

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It seemed fair enough. Just Google ‘golf course closures in Scotland’ and you’ll get the picture. My club, though, remains the most affordable in the area. You would think that any proposal to safeguard its future by trying to generate cash would be seen as a good thing.

That’s the theory, not the reality.

“We’re meant to be affordable,” said one member. “What are we going to be paying in two, three years if this trend continues?”

I wanted to answer the question for him but the captain beat me to it.

“Nothing,” he replied. “Because there won’t be a club.”

This was all pre COVID19. I can’t imagine what that member is thinking now and whether he’s decided to meet today’s deadline for subs. Whether he knows it or not, he is in the same position as thousands of other golfers across the country - debating over whether to pay up for their membership.

There are, without doubt, more pressing matters in the country than golf club subscriptions. 

A total of 60 people have died in Scotland due to coronavirus, and that number will rise in the coming days. But what coronavirus has done is shake the foundations upon how we live our lives. Sport is one of those foundations. 

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It is predicted that a number of football clubs will succumb to the financial pressures COVID19 has inflicted upon them unless the Scottish football authorities can figure out some kind of financial rescue package for the betterment of the game.

When it comes to golf, there is no rescue package. YOU are the rescue package. 

Late last night, I got an email from a PGA pro, who closed his shop last week, saying that this crisis would put golf clubs in genuine peril. That means PGA pros will be out of a job. Lots of them.

You only need to read this excellent piece on how this crisis is affecting the PGA professional.

This is not a blip, nor will it 'blow over' in a couple months. Golf clubs can’t exist without subscription money. They need cash in the bank to exist from day-to-day. Some clubs are going out of their way to offer three months free next year to those members who sign up by close of play today. Others are offering voucher rounds. Quick thinking, and I really hope it works.

But the simple fix is for golfers who were planning to join anyway to simply rejoin now should they have the funds to do so. It’s the only way to guarantee golf at your club further down the line. 

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Yes, you are paying for a service you aren’t getting – but this isn’t your Sky Sports subscription. When the football returns, so will Sky Sports. Your golf club might not be so lucky.

It was only a matter of time before the pitchforks came out against Sky for charging their subscribers for a service they weren’t getting. Eventually, they relented and gave their customers the option to ‘pause’ their sports package for three months.

There is no pause for golf clubs. Only a stop button.

Rejoin your golf club.

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