‘Cut smaller clubs’ affiliation fees’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 1, 2013 05:02

‘Cut smaller clubs’ affiliation fees’

allendaleAn English golf venue is calling for members of smaller golf clubs to be charged reduced annual subscriptions via a deduction in their affiliation fees to England Golf and their local county golf union.

Allendale Golf Club in Northumberland believes it is not fair that members of some of the richest golf clubs in the world, such as Wentworth, Royal Birkdale and Sunningdale, pay effectively the same affiliation fees as small clubs in their counties, even if they rely on volunteers to stay afloat.

All members of golf clubs affiliated to England Golf, which runs amateur golf, including the handicapping system, in England, pay an annual levy to England Golf and to their county golf union, as part of their subscriptions. This only varies from county to county and by the number of members each club had in the previous year, rather than via the financial size of each individual golf club – male members of Allendale, for example, pay £10.75, of which £3.50 goes to the Northumberland Union of Golf Clubs and the rest to England Golf, which is almost identical to the amount paid by all male members of all golf clubs in Northumberland. In some other counties the fee is nearly twice as much.

However, nine-hole Allendale Golf Club has one employee, a band of volunteers and 126 playing members, and generates just £45,000 of income per year. It is therefore calling on all small golf clubs to join forces to put pressure on their county golf unions and ultimately England Golf to charge fees based on the amount members pay for their annual golf subscription.

Robin Down, the volunteer treasurer at the club, said: “Affiliation fees represent a near six per cent ‘tax’ on membership at Allendale, which, if applied as a flat percentage across all clubs, would not be countenanced.”

Down, who is also the greens’ committee chairman, website designer and club photographer, added that the club is registered with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs as a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC), which provides Allendale with several financial benefits, including an 80 per cent reduction in council tax.

“If those skinflints at the tax office have the grace and intelligence to recognise and reward community-based amateur sports clubs, why not England Golf?

“Our annual affiliation fees are a tax imposed by England Golf and the county based on the number of members from the previous year. This year it will be over £1,400 – big money for a small club such as ours – and we can see no tangible return,” he said.

“Nor is there any reduction for our youngsters, though we intentionally keep junior membership low at £40 to make it affordable and encourage local children to take up the sport.

“More than 25 per cent of this membership fee is grabbed by the golf authorities.”

John Mayfield, the newly-elected president of the Northumberland Union of Golf Clubs, has said his executive will discuss Allendale’s concerns at a meeting in March. However, according to Down, it needs more than one golf club and one county golf union working together to bring about a change in affiliation fees.

“No matter how well intended such approaches to England Golf might be, the loan voice of the Northumberland Union of Golf Clubs will not cut much ice – a coordinated approach which encompasses the smaller clubs across England would seem to offer the best hope, but I have no idea how this might be achieved,” he explained.

“Allendale are not Wentworth, Royal Birkdale or Sunningdale and it is time this vital distinction was recognised by those responsible for administering our sport.

“It is a labour of love for us all at Allendale – especially our volunteer greenkeeper Ian Robinson – and if we didn’t make this effort we would not be able to play golf in our wonderful landscape.”


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Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 1, 2013 05:02
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  1. @CIMSPA_YH February 4, 11:16

    ‘Cut smaller clubs’ affiliation fees’

    Reply to this comment
  2. SB February 1, 22:10

    Affiliation fees are paid by the member and collected by the club on behalf of the union. They are not part of the membership fee and do not belong to the club and are not paid out of the clubs own funds. Unless of course the club in question is using monies collected for their own purposes in which case shame on them for treating their members in that way.

    The fee paid to the union is retrospective because it is collected by the club for each member in one year and paid over at the start of the next. It exactly reflects the membership number in the year it was collected.

    A club that collects this money, spends it and then complains when asked to pay it over is operating in a very poor fashion.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Mark Stevenson February 1, 15:44

    I agree that the overall system is to inflexible as it does not reflect the current level of membership & when it is very tough to recruit & keep members, some might question whether the EGU & County fees give the individual value for money.
    These fees are similar to a tax, but without any obvious agreement from those who arepaying the fees – it is certainly time to have a debate among the golfers of England

    Reply to this comment
  4. MN February 1, 14:44

    All of this article is alittle out from what actually happens. All members pay £x on top of their membership fees that is then collected by the Unions and England Golf. It is not the clubs being charged but the individual, if affiliation fees are not split away from the membership rates of the club as they should be then that’s really the golf clubs choice, although no benefit in it. Proprietory clubs that do this are missing out by vat being charged on their affiliation fees aswell.
    Also, any County Union fees that go up year on year are almost always voted on by the clubs in that county. In addiiton the Counties all vote on any increases by England Golf.
    If the county Unions and England Golf were not around, I’m afraid golf would lose a great deal of funding, training and direction obviously of the great detriment of the game. It is not quite apprecaited quite how much hard work Unions do for the sport.
    In addition why should the members of more expensive clubs pay more affiliation fees? They probably already pay through the nose for being a member there anyway? Remember it is the members that pay the affiliation fees not the club that should pay more for what facilities they may have.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Malcolm Bagier February 1, 14:21

    I have every sympathy with this club. Year on year we pay into the EGU on previous years membership figures whch can bear no resemblence to the current position of the club?
    All clubs need to know exactly where thier money goes and on what to establish whether it is value for money. In times of hardship and a massive change in club club membership they should look long and hard at what they need to do to redress this position and not just put up subscriptions year on year without consultation with the golf clubs and county executives.
    They should be aware that many golf clubs cannot continue to spend money whithout seeing the benefits of it.

    Its time to wake up and smell the coffee before it is too late.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Golfing Journalist (@AlDunsmuir) February 1, 08:17

    Should members of tiny golf clubs pay the same affiliation fees to their national golf union as golfers at Sunningdale? http://t.co/ISq9DIRG

    Reply to this comment
  7. @19th_holesocial February 1, 05:23

    #Golf #Big ‘Cut smaller clubs’ affiliation fees’ – An English golf venue is calling for members of smaller golf club… http://t.co/fB2NmV8C

    Reply to this comment
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