Scottish golf clubs eligible for £25k grant; Some Irish clubs have remained open; Members urged to keep paying their subscriptions; COVID-19 update

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 26, 2020 13:02

Scottish golf clubs that have been forced into temporary closure by the coronavirus crisis are eligible for a one-off Scottish government grant of £25,000.

The news has been confirmed by Scottish Golf, which has sent clubs information provided by both the Scottish and UK governments to ‘sign-post’ relevant information at the start of a period of uncertainty.

The news comes as Brora Golf Club has issued a warning to members that it “might not exist” beyond the period of closure, reports The Scotsman.

In relation, Ross Duncan,  a past captain at Peebles Golf Club, said: “Now more than ever, members need to stick by their club.

“A lot of clubs were clinging on to the idea that golf was this safe sport amid all this but that’s been brought to an abrupt halt and it’s back to the drawing board.

“It’s about emergency planning now and how clubs can survive. Here at Peebles, like most clubs presumably, we’re making a rallying call to members to keep paying their fees so that we still have a club to come back to when we get through this.

Brora Golf Club. The club published this image on Twitter along with the message: ‘We have been truly overwhelmed with the messages of support for our club and course. We will update you with how you can help in the coming days. Folded hands⛳’

“There is no other income and large and small clubs will be severely hit. It’s a huge concern for everybody. The likes of Dornoch, for instance, well rely massively on overseas income.

“We will maybe get £60,000 from visitor income but that will mainly get wiped out now while we’ll have about £250,000 worth of membership income which we clearly need to keep ticking over.

“The latest guidelines allows greenkeepers to at least go and maintain the course. We won’t be needing greens running at 10 on the stimp but at least we can do basic maintenance.”

In one of the Scottish government updates, clubs have now been told: “To help owners of non-domestic properties, including businesses, deal with the impact of COVID-19, the Scottish government has made changes to non-domestic rates (business rates) for 2020-21.

“The Scottish government has introduced extra rates reliefs (discounts). It has also introduced a one-off grant for some businesses. These reliefs will be available to non-domestic properties from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. It will be possible to apply for the grants from 24 March 2020 and they will be available to 31 March 2021.”

Under a heading “extra reliefs”, it goes on: “All non-domestic properties in Scotland will get a 1.6% rates relief. This relief effectively reverses the change in poundage for 2020-21.

“You do not need to apply for this relief and it will be applied to your bill by your local council.”

On grants specifically, it says: “Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,001 and up to and including £50,999 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000.”

A Scottish Golf spokesperson said: “Scottish Golf are here to support all clubs and our focus is to maintain regular communications through these unprecedented times.

“Our team strives to report all latest information that is of benefit to the clubs on a daily basis, where we can. Any grant for clubs at this time is, of course, welcomed.”

Meanwhlle, it has been reported that some golf courses in Ireland have remained open despite recommendations from the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union that all courses be closed.

Ian McGuinness, the managing director of Roganstown, one club that has remained open, told The Irish Times: “[The Irish government] specifically said things like ‘groups of four’, ‘outside exercise’, ‘[can] leave the house if you are going out for physical exercise’, ‘we have to preserve our humanity’, which means taking exercise and looking after your physical and mental wellbeing; that as long as you keep the groups to four [or less] and keep safe distances . . . he left the parks open and, to be honest, there will be less people on the golf course than there will be in the park.”

McGuinness stressed they had adopted a large number of health and safety procedures, including removing all ball washers from the courses, removing flags from holes (and placing them on a spiked area, raised to the side of the green) so that they would be untouched; removing all rakes and disconnecting shoe cleaners so that players wouldn’t have to touch compressors. Signs informing players to keep two metres distance were also put in place.

“If people are being responsible, it is the place to be . . . as far as I’m concerned. The positivity of the members [on keeping the courses open] has been brilliant. If the Government comes around and says ‘close’, I will close no problem,” he said.

For any UK golf club interested in accessing financial support, there is more information here.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 26, 2020 13:02
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4 Comments

  1. James March 28, 17:51

    Clubs seem to think ” members should bail them out” I raised the point on fee return with my club to be told ” it’s not in the constitution” Clubsa are a commercial business and if they are not providing the service for whatever reason then fundamentally they have an obligation to return funds to members. There is a lot of help from the government and they need to figure out how to access that, reduce costs but not keep fees that are not there’s. I urge everyone to challenge your club. We all have bills to pay

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  2. James March 28, 17:40

    Clubs seem to think ” members should bail them out” I raised the point on fee return with my club to be told ” it’s not in the constitution” Clubsa are a commercial business and if they are not providing the service for whatever reason then fundamentally they have an obligation to return funds to members. There is a lot of help from the government and they need to figure out how to access that, reduce costs but not keep fees that are not there’s. I urge everyone to challenge your club. We all have bills to pay

    Reply to this comment
  3. Gordon C March 27, 13:35

    I doubt whether this will apply to many golf clubs, many of whom will pay little or no rates as sporting clubs and whose rateable values may be well in excess of the upper limit.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Stephen March 26, 15:20

    Will be interesting to see what is in place for refunds for members pre-paying full membership, and then not being able to play due to the current crisis. I know with hotels and other outdoor activities, these refunds have been approved, but I doubt many clubs will be able to afford a refund, or give a reduction on next years fees.

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