How do golf clubs respond commercially to coronavirus? – Part 3.

By: April 13, 2020

New week, new ideas about how to manage coronavirus crises in our golf clubs. Probably in the next part of this article series I will be able to share with you best practices from Vietnam too.

Just as a quick reminder. I am asking my contributors to answer these two questions:

  1. How do you minimize your golf club’s losses due to coronavirus/COVID-19?
  2. Have you got a recovery plan/idea for the post-coronavirus era?

This time my contributors are:

  1. Alexandre Barosso – Director of Golf, Troia Golf, Portugal
  2. Michael Braidwood – General Manager, Education City Golf Club, Qatar
  3. Janne Pelkonen – Managing Director, Pickala Golf, Finland (largest golf center in North Europe)
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How do you minimize your golf club’s losses due to coronavirus/COVID-19?

Alexandre Barroso:

The world is leaving an experience that very few thought that was possible, golf courses weren’t exceptions and the immediate losses were tremendous.

I am looking forward, the first actions have to be to control those losses, and a few measures can be taken.

In Portugal, the government helps the companies authorizing a lay off the system, where the employee loses 1/3 of the wage, and the others 2/3 will be paid by the company 1/3 and by the state 2/3.

This can cover 80- 90% of employees of the course, because some need to keep maintaining the course. The majority of the course, the hand power is more than 50% of the costs, so this is a great help.

Then, a few works can be done, like hollow coring. This operation is normally related to a reduction of revenue, once those golf courses have to give discounts during hollow coring period. 

Also, electricity cost has to be reduced to a minimum especially on the clubhouse, but with fewer cuts on fairways, tee and greens the consumption of the machine is reduced.

All travel visits are suspended, so probably the marketing budget will be reduced as well.

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Michael Braidwood:

We have kept the team busy over the closure period and managed to do our golf course rejuvenations now which will save us doing them in June.

We have kept all staff on, a majority are from overseas so we cant send them home. We have made savings by pausing third party supplier contracts – F&B, Cleaning, Security and made a number of other operational savings.

We are waiting to hear from our insurers if we have a business interruption claim and also as a semi-government entity we are waiting to hear from the Qatari government what support they will lend due to the forced closures.

At present we are ensuring staff leave is up to date so we don’t have to deal with a backlog later in the year.

Janne Pelkonen:

We adjust operative work so that our service level is 20% below normal. We try to break even this year and continue our five-year plan with a year delay.

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Have you got a recovery plan/idea for the post-coronavirus era?

Alexandre Barroso:

The reopening will be taken slowly, first with some local market, then with the countries that are getting out of emergency plans.

In this situation, golf courses have to adapt, implement and communicate their safety plans of disinfection, procedures to guests: keep some distance between them, easy / self-check-in tools…

The communication will play a major role, and golf courses have to give trust back to their client fell safe as they should on the golf course.

Michael Braidwood:

Our sales, marketing and events team are primed to re-book all that was canceled and we have also taken time to develop some new event concepts.

All our plans are on a rolling basis – if we open by Ramadan then we can activate our Ramadan plan, if not then we will activate our summer promotion and so on.

It will be interesting to see how the consumer will react to group activities in the immediate aftermath of Covid19/coronavirus.

Janne Pelkonen:

If we can not make then we recover in 2021 or 2021+2022 and continue the five-year plan.