“We have already closed 29 days this year”

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 7, 2024 10:54

Golf clubs in the UK and Ireland have had a difficult start to the golfing season due to constant wet weather.

As we reported in April, many clubs had reported that they had experienced about twice as much rain as they would expect during the autumn and winter months, which hampered their ability to prepare for spring.

UK Met Office data shows the meteorological winter from the start of December 2023 to the end of February 2024 was among the wettest on record, while April was the UK’s sixth wettest since records began.

This has hampered the recovery of courses that experienced high rainfall between October 2023 and March 2024, and deterred (some) golfers from playing.

“It’s been rough,” says Gary Madden, club manager at Glenlo Abbey Golf in Ireland.

“The season seems to be getting shorter and shorter every year. You might get deeper into November, even December, but everything from then on is a wash.

“Members are a lot more demanding and discerning then we might have been, growing up and playing golf in the 1990s. They aren’t as tolerant of temporary greens and tee boxes as we may have been. They expect more, which puts more pressure on staff. It’s one thing keeping courses open, another keeping them open to a standard that lives up to members’ expectations.”

Dromolond Castle Golf Club’s director of golf, Eamon O’Donnell, agrees: “We have closed 29 days from January 1 until today. Every single one of those days is an on-the-day call. Effectively we are a month behind. Our membership has been extremely patient, but it’s amazing how reliant you become on getting one fine day to kickstart the whole season.”

“We couldn’t open during January and February, but we couldn’t do any of the maintenance you might usually get done either,” adds Woodstock Golf Club’s course manager Eileen O’Grady.

“We needed to hollow-tine the greens, but it was so wet the past few weeks, we could only do it just as we were opening again, which is frustrating for members.”

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 7, 2024 10:54
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  1. Par 3 May 7, 17:24

    Is any data available that reflects the “lost green fee income” for the UK golf industry for the last 6 months? I have heard some incredibly high numbers, just looking for data if anyone has it

    Reply to this comment
    • George May 9, 09:10

      It would be very hard to estimate the green fee income lost though course closures. It’s easy to come up with a number for refunds issued by third party booking companies, but that doesn’t really reflect the whole picture.

      First, some people may have just deferred with a booking company.
      Second, people just booking directly with a club may not have paid, so no refund would be paid.
      Third, some people who were considering playing may have called off, expecting the course to be closed when it turned out to be open.
      Fourth, it’s hard to estimate food and beverage losses without resorting to averages which don’t reflect cold or wet weather (eg people buying tea and soup instead of beer and crisps)
      Fifth, people may be more inclined to buy waterproofs or umbrellas or more balls if they are going out to play in bad weather. That won’t happen if the course is closed.
      And sixth, once people get out of the habit of going to golf, they may not get back into it for a while – maybe going to watch football instead.

      Reply to this comment
    • Truck May 9, 19:27

      There is also the lost memberships, I’ve heard of lots of people giving up membership as the courses in the north east of England near me have been shut 60-70% of the time from October.
      They just see it as money wasted

      Reply to this comment
    • Nick E May 9, 20:32

      @Par3 we (The Revenue Club) have green fee data from our 190+ course partners. I can share that our average club is actually up 6% on casual green fee YTD vs the same period last year if that helps. Southern clubs have definitely fared better.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Andalucia Golf May 7, 14:53

    We are very sorry to hear that news. It must be very tough for golf lovers. We invite to Spain, especially to the Costa del Sol, where the weather is perfect for practice your favorite sport.

    Reply to this comment
    • djm May 9, 12:04

      Golf on the Costa

      5 hour+ rounds behind Swedish & German players

      I’ll pass, thanks.

      Reply to this comment
    • Bobby May 9, 13:04

      I’m Scottish and have played 6 rounds of golf at Easter on Costa del Sol and and one on Costa Blanca.

      Out of these 6 rounds I had rain during 3 of them.

      Reply to this comment
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