2018 Member Survey Results
An Update from the General Manager
Members Only
Diary Event

A couple of weeks ago I thanked all those who completed the survey and said I would begin releasing the results as soon as the Board had the opportunity to digest them. Well, now that they have, my first release of information is below.

248 members took part in the survey, roughly half of the playing membership, and the demographic breakdown of the 248 was very similar to the overall make-up of the membership. We have a good representation of men and ladies completing the survey, from all age groups and from all playing abilities. As for a test group, the 248 were very representative of the membership.

Responses here fell into just two of the four answers offered. 46% of you suggested the course was the most important, with 53% of you stating that all areas of the Club (course, clubhouse and social aspect) were of equal importance. The remaining 1% was split between the other answers.

IN WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING AREAS DO YOU THINK WE COULD DO BETTER? (This was in relation to communication)
47% of you stated that you are happy with the current level of communication received, leaving 53% who felt as though it could be improved in one way or another. The percentage split of the remaining 4 answers didn’t vary much from course information, clubhouse plans, communication in general or directly from the Directors/Chairman.

This is useful feedback for all concerned as we can begin improved communications in respect to all aspects of the Club. It is certainly something I support and hopefully you will appreciate the additional information I will make available to you all via the newsletters.

I can also confirm that nearly 90% of you that completed the survey are happy with email communication so this is likely to remain the most medium.

Rather than explain what the survey results showed, please see the table of results below:

Answer Options > Very Good - Good - Fair - Expensive - Very Expensive

Subscription fees - 17.55% / 43 - 24.08% / 59 - 44.49% / 109 - 13.06% / 32 - 0.82% / 2
Beverage prices - 21.05% / 52 - 40.89% / 101 - 34.41% / 85 - 3.64% / 9 - 0.00% / 0
Food prices - 20.56% / 51 - 42.34% / 105 - 33.06% / 82 - 4.03% / 10 - 0.00% / 0
Member guest green fees - 20.49% / 50 - 31.97% / 78 - 38.93% / 95 - 8.20% / 20 - 0.41% / 1
(the number to right of the percentage number is the number of members who completed the question and gave this answer)

The results show that the majority of you feel as though we are priced correctly, or on the better value side. Very few feel as though we are expensive or very expensive in all 4 lines.

The answers given were as follows:
Greens – 1.61% / 4
Tees – 2.42% / 6
Fairways – 1.61% / 4
Bunkers – 47.18% / 117
Woodland management – 2.42% / 6
Paths – 22.98% / 57
Presentation – 6.45% / 16
None – I am pleased with the course – 15.32% / 38

As you can see there is one area that stands out, bunkers, and another that closely follows, paths.

This result is what we anticipated and provides support for the current work taking place to improve both of these areas. What I will do below is highlight exactly what is currently taking place for each of them.

- Bunkers
The Greens Committee are currently reviewing all practices relating to bunkers. This includes the sand levels within the bunkers, how they are raked, the shaping of the bunkers, the type of bunker we offer and the general rebuilding and maintenance of the bunkers.

In addition, Marc Westenborg, the course architect I introduced last week, has agreed to conduct a full bunker review and audit, with a view to making proposals for the Committee to consider. Several members have spoken to me since my arrival about how many bunkers we have, should we have less, the course too hard, etc. so it was agreed to take Marc up on his offer (voluntary work I may add) of reviewing what we have.

I can also confirm that in recent weeks the green keeping team have completed a few pieces of work on our bunkers. The first is a test of “face presentation” in respect to our revetted, which will not only help create uniformity as we re-build bunker faces, but it will also free up some much needed maintenance time for the team, as the newly presented “clean faces” require less man hours to maintain. The second, is a full base turnover, which rotavates the compacted sand and soil, which in turn allows for fluffier lies and less hard ground under the ball. And third, overhangs on some of the edges have been cut back to improve the playability of the bunkers when balls are close to the face, and remove the effect of years of erosion caused by sand and wind on the faces.

Hopefully you can see that work is already underway to address the largest issue you have told us we should focus on.

- Paths
I think it fair to say that most of us would like to see no man-made paths out on the course and to utilise grass paths where possible. Clearly this isn’t possible in all areas but there are plans to reinstate grass paths where possible. As you know, last winter the team tackled the network of paths around the 4th tee and we have seen a measurable improvement this season in how the area now looks. It will still take a season or two for all the work to fully bed in, but the impact of removing the granite path has been immediate.

This type of project is now being considered for other areas of the course where possible and as advertised last week, this includes both the 1st and 18th holes. Other areas currently being considered are the 2nd tee walkway, that leads up to the fairway, the path from the 6th tee to the fairway and the path that leads from the road on the 7th hole, again to the fairway. Although no plans have been finalised, nor budgets put in place, each of these areas is being considered for the path improvements, with the long term plan being to remove all man-made surfaces where possible. The last part of the path review will be to consider alternative surface types for the areas that need to be “hard standing”, but as yet this conversation hasn’t taken place.

Having addressed some of the questions directly, my plan over the coming weeks is to address some of the additional comments and points raised by each of you. In total there were 208 individual comments, many of which focussed on similar areas, and it is these areas I will focus on each week.

Newly Cleared Areas – Between the 3rd & 4th hole; behind the 9th green; and in front of the 10th tee

Several of you commented on these areas and have asked when they will be “tidied up”?

The answer to the question isn’t as straight forward as you may think so I would like to give you all some history of the work.

S&A Golf Club signed up to the Countryside Stewardship Programme back in 2010, which gave the Club access to government grants and funding to manage ecological work on SSSI rated land. This programme has benefitted the Club by nearly £50,000 over the last 8 years and has allowed us tackle some large pieces of work that otherwise may have taken longer to complete. That said, part of the ecological requirements for managing our land, is that we allow areas to regenerate naturally, rather than planting and importing new plants and grasses. The 3 areas noted above are now deemed by Natural England as conservation areas and the brashings of heather you see on the ground are expected to “take” within 3 to 5 years. Until that time we are required to leave the areas as is, otherwise we are in breach of our contract with the Stewardship Programme. The Stewardship Programme is reviewed periodically and at the next renewal date the Committee will again decide its worth in conjunction with the plans we have for the course.

Below are some points I can address in a slightly quicker manner:

Ladies Online Competition Booking – Now in place.

Mounding the right hand side of the 18th fairway to hide the driving range – Plans circulated to do just that last week.

Over-staffing of the Bar – We are required by sensible H&S practices to always open and close with 2 members of staff and we also need to make sure we provide suitable service to members and guests at all times. This does result in some periods of “down time” for the team, but in our environment it is important to understand that we are a service industry and I am sure I would receive more complaints if people were left waiting.

Exposed Sandy Areas. Plant more marram grass to prevent erosion – The natural shaping of the dunes by wind is actually part of the design. No one can shape a dune better than mother nature, so when deemed suitable more grass will be added and natural grass growth will sure up the areas.

Fewer visitors but they should pay higher green fees – There is support for this from many areas, we just need to make sure that we offer on a daily basis warrants the higher fees. Our standards need to be excellent all year round and then the justification will be easy. The item is on the agenda for the Golf Admin Committee’s next meeting.

As you can see we have received a lot of information, of which I hope there is something here of interest for you. If not, there will be more to follow over the coming weeks so make sure you keep reading the newsletter.

Philip Worthington
General Manager

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25.06.2018 16:40
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