Member calls for changes to cope with tee time demand surge

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 10, 2021 07:48

One of the longest-standing members of one of the oldest golf clubs in the world has called for it to create new staff roles due to a membership surge in recent months.

Ian Colville, who has been a season ticket holder at Musselburgh Links in East Lothian, which hosted the Open Championship six times in the 19th century, for about 50 years, has called for a manager to be appointed to run the golf course as some members have been unable to get tee times due to the surge.

In the season before the pandemic, the club had 475 members. Last year (April to March) it had 729 members.

Colville said that tee times are fully booked for seven days ahead “within 30 seconds of going live” at 7am on the internet booking system.

“There were too many season tickets issued in the last year, making it extremely difficult to book a game,” he added.
enjoyleisure, which runs the municipal course, is planning to cap numbers at 500.

“They need to appoint a person with experience of golf course management or East Lothian Council could take over and appoint a golf course manager,” he said.

Bill Axon, chief executive of enjoyleisure, said: “In all our years of managing the golf course, we have never witnessed such a demand for golf as there has been in the last 12 months.

Musselburgh Links. Image from Facebook

“Since the resumption of golf in May 2020, enjoyleisure has witnessed a surge in demand for tee time bookings and membership requests at both Musselburgh Links, The Old Golf Course, and Winterfield Golf Course, Dunbar.

“As one of the first sporting and leisure activities to resume, and to continue without significant restrictions throughout the pandemic, the popularity and demand for tee times at both courses has been unprecedented.

“In July 2020, the introduction of an online booking system was welcomed by members and has proven to be invaluable, both in terms of managing bookings and providing a safe and accessible means of gaining access to the course amidst current social distancing restrictions.

“As we have come into the lighter nights and longer days, demand for tee times has once again soared.

“Following an upgrade on the booking system, enjoyleisure was able to address concerns raised by customers by amending the release time for bookings seven days in advance from midnight to 7am. At a more accessible time, the option to book online once again increased in popularity.

“To ensure there is fair accessibility of tee times for all, a number of tee times each hour are now only available to be booked via telephone.

“Currently a cap of 500 members has been placed at the course in order to maintain the quality of the course and offer fair and equal access – this will be kept under review. A priority rebooking period is currently in place for our long-standing members.

“Although the number of tee times has not reduced, social distancing restrictions have halved the opportunities for golfers to gain access to the course.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 10, 2021 07:48
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4 Comments

  1. PlayMoreGolf April 12, 12:54

    Membership growth across the country has been massive for most clubs. But managing, maintaining and making this growth sustainable for the future is the biggest challenge. Will this appetite still be there in 12 months time when the country opens back up? Are clubs futureproofing themselves? Are members getting value from their membership when not getting to play when they want??……….time will tell.. I guess.

    Reply to this comment
  2. MK April 11, 13:53

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  3. Langford April 11, 05:42

    That’s just a standard year in Dublin

    Reply to this comment
  4. RANGE SERVANT April 11, 02:13

    As a former GM myself, I have experience with such issues of availability. Usually, these problems lead to creative solutions, as here in Sweden. Good luck!

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