If you don’t like our dress code, go somewhere else

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick December 28, 2011 17:04

I must say that I am becoming ever more annoyed at the people on the outside telling us, on the inside, where we are going wrong.  Their continual mantra is ‘clubs have to change’ to suit what is perceived as the modern way. Well, if the modern way is ‘I want something for nothing, and I want it now’, they can go elsewhere as far as I am concerned.

The only change necessary in golf is that clubs must offer what THE MEMBERS want at a reasonable cost or they will have difficulties. All of these people on the outside saying that it is old fashioned to have traditions and they don’t like the way they are treated at golf clubs because of (say) the dress code, can, as far as I am concerned, go where they will receive no grief … somewhere else. Clubs should not surrender their traditions to people who know no better just because it doesn’t suit THEM!

What is however of more concern is that some other major organisations (home unions) seem to think that they know how to run clubs and, quite frankly, they don’t. Tourist boards demand that free golf should be made available to tempt visitors is nonsense to by far the majority of clubs. Tourists (in the true sense of the word) are not in the least interested in playing much beyond the signature courses. The normal run of the mill members’ clubs welcome a level of ‘visitors’ which suits their own members’ requirements and the ‘cancer’ (and I use the word deliberately to properly reflect its effect) of two-for-one schemes is the main problem posed to club golf as we know it.

We are all aware of the ‘nomadic golfer’ syndrome and there is no doubt that it exists. What clubs, and unions, fail to appreciate is that if these two-for-one schemes did not exist, every club in the land would be full with a considerable surplus left over. Golfers are not stupid and if they can get their golf for half price, they will undoubtedly take it. Would they however all cease to play if they didn’t? The fault is not theirs, it is ours.

I have heard the argument that clubs could not exist without their visitor income.

What the clubs who participate in the two-for-one schemes fail to reconcile is that they have degraded the value of their most important asset, the club. They suffer twice the traffic for the same income.

I can hear cries of dismay in the background. ‘That approach would bankrupt us’ and ‘that might be OK for him’.

What I can say is that I have recently retired as a secretary from my private members’ club which has a full membership, a waiting list, still charges a joining fee, does not entertain any form of national two-for-one scheme and is not overrun by visitors. All this for £475 per year, so please don’t opine that I don’t know what I am talking about.

In conclusion, it is time that clubs took back the control of this wonderful game from the amateurs whose interest lie with their own version of success. We all have a product to sell and it is vital that its value is not degraded by allowing it to be undersold.  That said there have been many clubs that have been charging memberships and visitor fees that the ‘market would stand’ rather than what they were worth. That would perhaps be the one benefit to be gained by the ‘traditional’ club member.

They would perhaps be able to take their offspring to play on the courses they played as youngsters without having to remortgage the house to do it.

W Allan Osborne is the former secretary of Bathgate Golf Club. His views are separate to Golf Club Management and are not endorsed by Golf Club Management


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick December 28, 2011 17:04
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  1. Janet King December 31, 16:05

    The fact is, this is what people who dont play golf – but would like to – think of dress codes:


    Reply to this comment
  2. Janet King December 31, 12:30

    About 10 years ago it was a complete no-no to have a mobile phone anywhere near the golf club.

    Today golf clubs do apps so you can order from the bar when you finish your round.

    If clubs want to have dress codes then fine. Just dont expect me to play or pay at them.

    Reply to this comment
  3. GolfNut December 31, 11:46

    Ian – are you prepared to pay more in subs to have these rules.

    Society is changing. Dress codes put people off.

    At a private members’ club, that means subs go up to pay for the loss of members.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Ian Oakey December 31, 10:15

    Tom, that is ridiculous saying Dress codes during a recession are absurd. What is so hard about getting dressed up to go and play golf? It looks untidy when i see people playing in jeans and tshirt not to mention playing in trainers, which you could say is dangerous as you have no grip on wet grass. Tradition is there for a reason and like the author said, if you dont like it go somewhere else.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Tom James December 30, 13:36

    I went out to a club recently and decided to meet some friends who had already gone to one near me that I’d never been to before. I was told they have a relaxed dress code so I should be OK to get in, even though I was only wearing a t-shirt and jeans.

    Got there, was interested to note that there was no queue at all to get in, and as I tried to walk in, the bouncer stopped me to bend down and inspect my shoes for a good 20 seconds. He (perfectly pleasantly) then told me that I’d have to go home and change them into something smarter if I wanted to get in.

    Now my shoes were trainers, but they are black trainers that don’t look at all like running shoes (not that I see a problem with running shoes anyway). And in a dark nightclub, absolutely nobody would notice (or care) what the fabric of the shoes is made of. Yet everyone would probably notice my jeans and t-shirt which, as the bouncer explained to me, were perfectly fine. So it’s a smart dress code, but only from the ankles down.

    As I walked home (to go to bed rather than change my shoes) I thought that not only was I meeting people in there, so with entry fee and drinks, I’ll probably be spending a minimum of £30, but there were two other people coming specifically to meet me who then didn’t go, who were probably prepared to spend the same amount. And I thought, as I’ve never been before, if I like the place then it could be an option to come back, say, once a month, bringing other friends and using Noir as a central meeting place, potentially worth hundreds of pounds, maybe even thousands, in revenue per year. And then I thought, if I think this then there are probably several other people who’ve had the same experience, maybe meaning Noir is losing tens of thousands of pounds of money per year, over an inconsistent, pointless and nonsensical dress code, which might help explain why there was no queue to get in.

    And then I thought, while I was slightly disappointed not to have been allowed in, I’m really pleased not to have spent my money on a place that’s run by people with such shocking levels of business acumen during an economic downturn, and for both those reasons I can cross off Noir as a place to ever even try to go to again!

    Dress codes during a recession are absurd!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Alistair Dunsmuir December 28, 17:40

    If you click on ‘Dress Code’ under ‘Topics in this article’ you’ll find that not everyone on the ‘inside’ agrees with this author

    Reply to this comment
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