8% of private members’ golf clubs are now in a ‘critical’ position

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 12, 2020 12:02

A new survey has found that 144 private members’ golf clubs in the UK and Ireland are now in a ‘critical financial position’, following the Covid-19 lockdown.

Eight per cent of the 1,800 clubs surveyed said their finances were now ‘critical’.

A further 29 per cent of clubs, or 522, classify their situation as ‘concerning’.

This comes as all golf clubs in the UK have been closed since late March due to coronavirus, although all courses in England can reopen this week, and some of those that are have reported unprecedented demand. Courses in Ireland can reopen from Monday.

The research, carried out by global consulting firm GGA Partners, surveyed 1,800 golf, leisure and private club leaders across the UK and Ireland. This is the company’s second survey identifying some of the impacts of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on the sector.

Rob Hill

“It is impossible to anticipate every challenge clubs will face in the months ahead, but we can say with certainty that long-term financial stability is an issue confronting every club leader,” said Rob Hill, managing partner at the firm’s EMEA practice based in Dublin.

“The survey results highlight that now more than ever it is imperative that club leaders have access to the critical information which impacts their business, and plan diligently to secure their financial future. In the midst of a crisis, prudent financial stewards should embark on a phased approach to financial planning and analysis focussing on cash preservation, sustainability, and opportunity”.

GGA’s survey also reveals the scale and challenge facing club leaders in implementing the much needed cultural, operational and strategic change clubs will rely on to thrive in the future.

Hill notes: “Our survey attracted submissions from golf, leisure and private club leaders immersed in the implementation of change projects across their organisations and the results demonstrate that change isn’t merely a constant for clubs and leisure businesses today, but it is exponential.”

The majority of clubs are currently implementing changes to their governance model or practices (62 per cent), in capital planning capabilities (52 per cent) and in technological enhancements (51 per cent). A high degree of change is also evident across a spectrum of operational functions such as food and beverage, staffing, as well as in aspects of club culture and capital management.

“Unfortunately, what the research also confirms, is that clubs find implementing change extremely difficult and rarely achieve the outcomes they intend,” Hill continued, “which consequently greatly hinders their club or organisation’s overall success.”

Implementing Change, conducted with the support of GCMA (Golf Club Managers Association) and the England region of the CMAE (Club Managers Association of Europe), can be download at www.ggapartners.com/insights.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 12, 2020 12:02
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  1. Buckstopper May 21, 14:15

    When you bear in mind how heavily a lot of members club are subsidised by the tax payer you have to wonder why they are in trouble

    Reply to this comment
  2. David W May 13, 18:16

    Leadership and Management need to complement each other. Managers have an eye on bottom line where leaders have an eye on the future. Managers copy others, leaders challenge the status quo and show originality. Managers have short term perspective where leaders have long term perspective. From looking at results from survey it appears that majority were responding as managers and not from a leader’s perspective! The big challenges lie ahead over the next few years and not necessarily now from a economic perspective.

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  3. Darshan May 13, 13:09

    Thanks for ringing the alarm bells Rob

    Reply to this comment
  4. Andrew B May 13, 10:50

    A lot of opportunity for clubs to make use of the technology that is out there which is helping thousands of other clubs generate revenue and increase engagement from members and visitors. A great time for change!

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  5. Todd May 13, 07:50

    No way.It is not an industry that can play online. It will thrive after the lockdown.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Peter May 12, 16:54

    And…those numbers are likely to grow ! Almost every club will be affected in some way as the economic decline from this virus is not only serious but will be long and deep ! It will be “all hands on deck” in terms of increasing membership value with internal marketing. Taking advantage of advocates and ambassadors and turning out that club pride ! Higher levels of engagement and communication with members and others and likely a re-focusing on families ! Attracting members and maximizing club usage in tough times, requires an “all hands on deck attitude”, contrarian strategies and a great deal of “connection” in addition to highly maintained facilities and grounds !! It is going to be a tough fight and road demanding Bold Leadership and Brutal Honesty !! Some have it, others never will !

    Reply to this comment
  7. David W May 12, 16:50

    A key reflection from this- massive lack of self awareness around change and a low level of adaptability in most clubs. How many businesses in golf prioritise adaptability as the key skill they look for when recruiting or promoting staff?

    Reply to this comment
  8. David W May 12, 16:09

    Also recent research has identified that 70% of today’s top performers lack the critical attributes for success in future roles.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Declan May 12, 14:29

    Lots of hard work & creative thinking ahead for the passionate people who love the game which will benefit the industry in both the short term and the long term. ‍♂️

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