Will coronavirus drive changes in golf club committee work?
I asked 3 golf club leaders from the UK & Australia what do they think of my question:
- Declan McCollam, GM at Brookwater Golf & Country Club / Troon Golf Australia;
- Marc Newey CCE FCIMSPA – Chief Executive – at Roehampton Club;
- Neil D Hampton – General Manager, Royal Dornoch Golf Club.
Golf Clubs that have been allowed to stay open and continue to have play on their golf courses had to adapt to the new laws and restrictions very quickly while thinking about the safety of their employees.
In Australia and particularly Queensland we have been fortunate to have been allowed to continue to trade since the pandemic restrictions were put in place.
Being part of the Troon family and Management Team, we had a wealth of knowledge to draw from and get ideas together quickly. We also spent time talking to other GMs in the area about how they were going to manage the situation.
The first thing we did was look at all of the elements that could or would put anyone at risk. We reduced golf cart usage to one cart per person. Carts were sanitized after each use. Tee, Pencils, and Score Cards were removed from carts and we went to electronic scoring with Golf Genius.
Rakes were removed from bunkers and flags from greens. Each day we produce a new hole location sheet so that players know where the hole is located on each green.
The holes are filled to 3/4 with a round wooden block so that the players do not have to touch the hole interiors. Our golf shop was reduced to a one in and one out policy to manage Social Distancing.
Our Board of Directors left the operational side of the business up to us to manage whilst at the same time we had to close down our F&B outlets and reduce any offering we had to members and guests.
Each day for the first two weeks we sent out an update to the members and used social media to inform guests of what we could and couldn’t do under the restrictions.
Now we send out a biweekly newsletter and post a minimum of three times per week on social media.
The member response has been incredibly positive, and the Board have agreed with the changes that have been put in place.
The agronomy team has remained as was prior to the virus restrictions and the golf course has been presented in immaculate condition each and every day.
We do not have a committee here, but our Board has left Troon and myself to get on the with the daily operations.
It has been challenging for all concerned but weekly updates and from within the Troon network via Tele Conferences and email as well as things like Momentsmatter.club from Troon have assisted immensely.
Marc Newey CCE FCIMSPA
First thing is to remember we are a Sports Club, not a Golf Club, so we have such a wide range of activities. That also brings its challenges as our 5000 members have high and varied expectations.
The first thing that has changed already is the upgrade of the online activities we offer to Members.
We already communicated very effectively with Members via a fortnightly ezine called the Roehampton Recorder and had a 94% effectiveness rating with our Members which when benchmarked with our competitors is remarkably high.
I have a superb team of Managers, Helen Bolt, Emily Hurse, and Nicki Davis, who are not furloughed but charged with compiling an online fitness, social, arts and crafts activity programme for the whole family to engage with Members on a new level.
So, we have an online Bridge, historical talks, gardening workshops, golf and tennis tuition, art workshops, cookery demonstrations etc.
We have 1000 members a week working out on our Pilates, yoga, Les Mills classes through Zoom.
Secondly, we are working out who can work at home just as effectively as being in the Club.
How can we react to the inevitable social distancing regulations but also adapt to having fewer people in the office at one time so they also can spend less time traveling to work but be as productive?
Lastly, we are fortunate to have a waiting list to join but we need to concentrate upon managing that waiting list in a more focused way as it could disappear overnight when we come to renewals in January.
Everyone is suffering due to this pandemic and we need to convince all our existing and prospective Members that Roehampton Club needs to be their Club of choice for the whole family to visit every week.
Neil D Hampton
After the initial period when things were changing by the hour we have settled down into a more normal routine of engagement.
Zoom is the new normal and everyone seems to be able to use it quite easily so we have been having club meetings using it. We did try Microsoft Teams but while a very comprehensive system is not as intuitive as Zoom so we have parked that at the moment.
I and the club are keen to try and keep the same pattern of meetings at this time so there is some order and focus.
We have a good subcommittee system, and this has worked well in the past and so we wish that to continue. Obviously, some are busier than others but they are all playing their part and reporting back to the main Council of Management at the regular monthly meetings.
It would be easy to let things slide, or do more impromptu meetings, but then chaos would ensue and my job would be even harder.
We have a good Captain and Vice-Captain at the moment who are also on the same page as me so we feel confident that the club governance will function properly and appropriately during these times.
With many of the committee members having a bit more time on their hands then it has been interesting to see who has been in touch more than before with comments and ideas, and who has continued in the same way as before.
As long as we keep the structure in place then we feel confident that we can work our way out of this situation without having any casualties along the way.