‘36% of golf clubs were well prepared for the pandemic’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 23, 2020 06:23

A surprising new survey of private members’ golf clubs in the UK and Ireland has found that more than a third were ‘well prepared’ for the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus, which has led to a lockdown in which golf is currently not allowed to be played in the UK, has resulted in several clubs issuing emergency appeals for donations.

However, according to a survey of 1,800 golf, leisure and private club leaders across the UK and Ireland by global consulting firm GGA Partners, 36 per cent of clubs were ‘well prepared’ for Covid-19.

“Thirty-six per cent of our respondents believed their clubs were well-prepared for the crisis,” said Rob Hill, from GGA’s EMEA practice.

“Given the unprecedented scale of the pandemic, that speaks well of the industry.

“Perhaps it is also not surprising that most of the clubs which were well prepared also reported that they had strong leadership in place and made ‘change management’ a top business priority.”

Hill added that just under two-thirds of golf clubs ‘must embrace dramatic or significant changes over the next five years’ if they are to thrive in the future.

He said that ‘the conservative nature of club leadership means that the overwhelming majority of clubs tend to effect the change that is necessary only when it is a financial imperative that they do so.’

“The data indicates that in too many instances clubs are reacting to financial problems,” he said, “rather than systematically preparing for the changes which the great majority of respondents believe are surely coming.

“Only 13 per cent of the clubs surveyed believe they enjoy the combination of strong leadership, financial expertise and a clear long-term strategic plan, and these are exactly the elements any club expecting to navigate through an uncertain future must possess.”

The survey discovered that while governing boards / committees have the greatest influence on driving change, “clubs that delegate change leadership to the club manager were the most effective in managing those changes. This was not terribly surprising,” according to Hill, “because the best-managed clubs retain and empower extremely effective, professional general managers or secretaries.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 23, 2020 06:23
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  1. Tim K April 26, 17:48

    Good read, have to challenge why you think it is surprising.
    Not all committees wear +4s and are stuck in the 70s.

    1800 responded with 2500 clubs in UK, a 72% response rate which is staggering .

    It does help that alot of clubs mine included have renewals of membership in January and I really do feel for clubs at renewals at this time.

    More importantly of the 1800 only 13% said they had strong management governance in olace that’s 234 as a percentage of the 2500 that’s only 9% – do find that hard to believe mind if it is then alot of clubs out there are going to need some real help and guidance.

    It really helps If you have a good loyal membership as it probably accounts for around 75% of your golf income the problem will come though later on in the year as historically clubs get a big cash flow hit early on and then draw down on it and the last two to three months of the season are the pinch points.

    With the loss of F&B cash flow either as the operator or as income from a franchise operations there’s going to be a real pinch in the future .

    Hope the ones without a Management team or an astute Treasurer are prepared for that or it could be carnage in nine months time .

    Think F&B will look differantly after this though

    Reply to this comment
  2. Dave P April 26, 17:18

    Not sure they were actually prepare for it so much as fortunate enough to be in a positive financial position at the right time of year (subs mostly collected already) and with a strong leadership and management team in place I would agree with.

    Reply to this comment
  3. JJ Woods April 26, 14:58

    How and why would they have been prepared , makes absolutely no sense to me, I can understand plans been drawn up after the crisis but certainly not before , I mean is this like an Armageddon list they had drawn up in case we were invaded by another species ??

    Reply to this comment
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