The transformation of Elgin Golf Club

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 14, 2018 06:50

The Scottish golf club’s behind-the-scenes changes have brought a new vibrancy and in turn attracted a younger and more diverse membership.

Nestled in the heart of the Highlands, with more celebrated links courses such as Nairn, Nairn Dunbar, Moray and Castle Stuart in the vicinity, another venue is growing in reputation with its distinct own identity.

Barbara-Anne Rumbles has been at the heart of developments, first arriving at the club as an administrator with a background in HR and finance in 2015 and soon becoming club manager inside a year, such is her passion for the role and the sport.

Shown the ropes by her predecessor, Gary Abel, for six months, Rumble’s fresh ideas convinced him of the need for change.

“I think the big thing was to say my door is always open, so that members and visitors could feel that they could come in at any time,” she said.

“You can have a coffee and if there is an issue or they want advice then things are dealt with there and then. Clubs are different now, it’s normal working people in these roles, maybe not high end like it used to be.”

While Elgin’s VAT refund was not vast (approximately £70,000), the cash was reinvested wisely. A deposit was put down to replace an outdated irrigation system for the testing par 69 venue, while the balance was used to create an environment where people of all ages would enjoy going.

“We haven’t totally renovated the clubhouse, but it was tired and needed freshening, so we decided to adapt the clubhouse to our current membership,” explained Rumbles. “We used to have a junior lounge, but we now see it that the juniors shouldn’t be in a room – they should be part of the club like anybody else. We are targeting families, so it’s changing the mindset that golf clubs are not seen as a friendly place to be unless you a golfer. That was one of the big things that we did last year with our women’s Get into Golf (GIG) coaching. We invited them up, through the support of ClubGolf volunteer coaches, and said ‘look, you’ve never touched a golf club but you are welcome here’.”

The results have been impressive. Sixty women initially turned up for GIG coaching, with 28 signing up for weekly lessons and the £150 membership subscription on offer. Five converted to full membership and 33 have signed up for next year’s coaching.

“We set ourselves a goal of thinking five would convert after two years, not inside one. One of our ladies has come in, started at a handicap of 36 and is now down to 26. The ladies totally love the environment in the club and the social aspect as well. That is huge for women these days,” she added.

Membership is healthy at approximately 1,100 (with around 550 full members – the club recently offered seven months’ membership for the price of six and this drew in 23 new faces), but the upturn in social membership and the age profile is another pleasing area for the club manager. “It means more people are using your clubhouse and bar. Those who have recently signed up have been mid-20s to early 30s, so it’s good to see that age bracket,” she said.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 14, 2018 06:50
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