Presidents Newsletter May 2022
President’s Newsletter May 2022
Our club seems to be bouncing from one disruption to another. The current period of wet weather is causing us some issues, but hopefully we will see normal operations soon. Please see my latest update on the club performance below.
It does appear that the worst is over for the disruptions caused by the pandemic. I must reinforce that any members who exhibit any Covid symptoms should get tested and not attend the club until a negative result is received. We have many older members, who are very susceptible to serious illness, especially during the colder months, so if in doubt, please stay home.
Our course is under severe stress from the ongoing period of wet weather, and it doesn’t look like stopping any time soon. We are attempting to allow carts on the course whenever we can, but members should realise that any damage done to the course by their use now, will not grow out and be repairable over the winter period. The cost to repair the course will be significantly higher than any revenue lost.
The Board has approved the purchase of a smaller zero turn ride-on mower for a number of reasons, but it has proven very beneficial in getting some of our rough cut, where the larger rough mowers haven’t been able to access.
There have been a couple of changes to our greenkeeping staff. Our 2IC, Joel Paget, left us in March, and we have been very lucky to find a very competent replacement in Mitch Hall, who has been going gangbusters since he arrived. We have a new first year apprentice, Will Simmons, who also started at the same time.
Pace of Play
The Match Committee has been continuing to monitor the Speed of Play for our Saturday competition.
Our round durations have suffered as a result of the heavy conditions and long rough, and we have taken that into consideration in our monitoring. But members should be aware that this is not a reason to keep the foot off the throttle, and warnings will still be sent out if warranted.
The wet weather has certainly had an effect on our bottom line over the last couple of months.
As an example of this, the April results showed a negative $50K impact against budget and May is heading the same way.
Luckily, the club has had a very good year prior to this wet period, and our YTD result is still positive.
Our membership was approximately 1100 prior to the new membership year commencing 1 April. Unfortunately, we are seeing a trend of members delaying their renewal payments until either the end of the one-month grace period or even after that.
At the end of the grace period, (30 April) there are still 200 members who have not re-joined. As a guide, the normal percentage of members not re-joining a golf club each year ranges between about 8 to 13%. We are currently sitting at about 20%, which is concerning. We understand that we signed up many new members during the Covid period, and there was always a chance that they may only stay for one year.
Unfortunately, we are seeing evidence of some members deliberately not re-joining because of the current wet weather course conditions.
Our membership should note that our annual budgets are prepared at this time of year, and membership data has a major influence on what we can allocate to perform improvements to your course and facilities.
The payment grace period was not introduced to allow members to deliberately delay payment. It is there for members who have a legitimate reason for not being able to make their payment on time. For members who may not be able to pay the complete 12-month membership fee, there is a 6 monthly instalment option as well as “Pay as you Golf”, which allows monthly payment at a slightly increased fee.
As a result of the recent issues, the Board has approved the following changes to membership payment terms.
- There is no reduced pro-rata payment for periods longer than 9 months. That is, there is no 10- or 11-month pro-rata payment. If you delay payment past the end of April, you pay the full 12-month fee or you lose membership for an additional 2 months until you can then pay for 9 months.
- Those members who pay after 31 March, pay a late fee equivalent to the House Credit amount of $50. That is, you pay the same membership fee, but you don’t get the benefit of the $50 house credit.
If a member finds him or herself in a position that prevents them from paying on time, they should advise the office of their issues prior to the payment date. Retrospective advice will not be considered.
Other changes were also discussed, and these included the implementation of a joining fee for those members who do not pay on time and basically let their membership lapse.
None of these changes or potential changes make pleasant reading, nor are they pleasant to implement, but we have been left with little choice.
House Activities and Functions.
The vacant catering supervisor position has been filled from within, with the ever smiling and popular Lechelle Simmons taking on the position a couple of months ago.
Along with her sister Mindy, we are lucky to have this dynamic duo working in these vital roles.
Our clubhouse revenue continues to be slow, but it will hopefully start to build as trading conditions return to normal.
We are continuing to search for new hospitality team members to work with our existing staff. If you know anybody who you think would be a good mix for us, please get them to contact Jono.
Our new assistant pro, Daniel Buyers, has hit the ground running and his ladies and cadet/junior clinics are proving very popular. Most days you can see a bunch of new players both young and old practicing together under the tutelage of Daniel. One thing that I have noticed is how good their swings are, and most of them have only been learning for a few weeks. The flow-on effect of these clinics is proving to be very beneficial for our future membership and marketing plans.
The junior programme is structured extremely well and introduces new players to the course in a very structured way, which doesn’t discourage them or hold up play unduly.
The very new players are taken to the 100m mark and play the hole from there. Once they reach their limit for the number of shots, they pick up their ball and place it on the green to putt. Once they start shooting 45 or below from the 100m mark, they move to the 150m mark and start again. Next step is the orange markers where they receive an unofficial 9-hole handicap. After they master that distance and learn to score, they play from the members tees and potentially earn a GA handicap and are ready to go.
The beginner ladies are also being assimilated into our ladies’ competitions in friendly team events and when ready will move into their ranks. Many of these beginner ladies feel more comfortable in the presence of their beginner partners, so it is vitally important that they receive input from our lady members about how the game is played outside the clinic environment.
These beginner environments would not have been possible without the efforts of both Mitch Peattie and director Loraine Smith, who have both been running the junior programmes for a couple of years now. Thank you to all for your efforts in growing our game.
Our new MiClub software has been installed, commissioned, and working well for the most part. I think most of us have now got used to the changes that came with it and are not having too many problems.
One feature of the software is the MiScore App which allows members to do their scoring on their smart phones. Most users of the App are very impressed with it, for its simplicity and speed of use. From a club perspective, we make a saving on the purchase of scorecards, which cost approximately $2,000 p.a.
Most of the benefits from MiClub are in “back-of-house” functionality and these include management of membership data, communications to members, linking of membership accounts to our Point Of Sales systems plus many more.
Development Proposals/Asset Sales for WGC
The Rezoning application was submitted to council earlier this year and is currently working through due process.
When the process has reached the “GateWay” milestone, rezoning approval is assured, but not actually approved. The Board is not willing to commence any course redevelopment until this stage has been achieved. Initially, our plans required the receipt of income from the early sales of residences to fund our first course construction phases. The buoyant trading conditions over the last 2 years has resulted in the club having sufficient funds to commence this construction utilising our own money.
The early start to construction works will result in less disruption to the membership during the later periods. The date of the GateWay milestone has been estimated as mid-2022, but this is far from certain.
We have been researching the issues from construction works from other local clubs and that has provided us with some valuable lessons. One very important lesson is in the supply of the fill used to shape and construct the new green complexes. The fill used is non-expanding clay, which is readily available from local housing and other construction works. This is supplied at no cost if it can be sourced in the appropriate time frame. If we start construction without it, we will have to buy it at considerable cost, as well as potentially delaying the works in waiting for it. Jono has been talking to local construction companies, who should be able to provide us with what we want in the appropriate time frame. If you start seeing some piles of clay appearing in the vicinity of the 2nd hole, you will know why they are being stockpiled. Unfortunately, the wet weather is causing havoc with these plans, as very little construction works is underway locally.
Our current desire is to commence the construction works on the second fairway in springtime. These works will result in a new par 3 second hole played from the existing tees to a new green approximately where the mounds are on the right-hand side. A new third tee will be constructed on the left-hand side of the fairway, which turns this hole into a par 4 playing to the existing second green. During construction, there will be a temporary tee placed on the fairway past the construction works, which plays to the existing second green as a par 4.
There are many factors that will influence the commencement of course construction works. Apart from the actual rezoning process, the major influences will be the climate conditions suitable for efficient grow-in and the golfing programme, so nothing is certain yet.
Our Vice-President, Sue Oakey has tendered her resignation to the Board, effective 18 May 2022, so that she and husband Trevor could recommence travelling as and when their hearts desired. Sue has been serving on the Board for nearly six years and been Vice-President for about four of those. Sue has been an outstanding contributor to the Board, and her advice and business experience will be sorely missed. Thank you Sue for making a massive difference to our club.
As a result of Sue’s resignation, the Board has appointed director, Stewart Knight to the position of Vice-President. In his new role, Stewart will also chair the House Committee.
Damien Grogan has accepted the invitation from the Board to fill the casual vacancy created by these movements.
Congratulations to both Stewart and Damien on their new appointments.
We continue to live in ever-changing times.
Till next time, stay safe and play well,