General Manager's Notice
An update from the General Manager
Members Only
Diary Event

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MEMBERS' SURVEY – THE FINAL RESULTS

I hope you have read with interest the results of the Members’ Survey that have been communicated over the last few weeks. There was a lot of information to sort through, but it is now providing a useful reference for the Board when making some decisions.

Today’s final instalment will focus mainly on membership and visitor golf, followed by the remaining survey answers and some more individual replies.

VISITOR GOLF & COURSE ACCESS

Over recent weeks/months, the Board and I have received thoughts and comments in respect to the number of visitors we have and the value we are attributing to a round of golf here with us at S&A. To elaborate, the more detailed notes actually refer to member’s access to the course and course congestion, both of which have been noted by the replies as a result of the number of visitors. This is why some of the questions in the Survey were dedicated to this topic, we wanted to see how you feel as members in order to generate a consensus.

Before I go into the questions and responses, I will be fully transparent that the number one item raised, when considering the “general feedback” section of the survey, focused on the number of visitors and course access; something the Board are taking very seriously.

Question 21 from the Survey – Do you believe the number of members we have is:

The replies were:
At the correct level – 62.96% - 153 of the 243 who answered the question
We could have more – 2.47% - 6 of the 243 who answered the question
We have too many – 34.57% - 84 of the 243 who answered the question

On the face of it we could assume that the majority of you are comfortable with the number of members, however, if one third of the membership believe we have too many, this isn’t something we can ignore. Since the survey results were compiled, a full member demographic audit has taken place so we can understand how the demographic has been changing over the years and how the number of members has also been evolving. The document itself is quite extensive and not really readable via general communication methods, but the results were interesting.

Since 2011 we actually have less members in our playing categories than we do today. The number in 2011 was 518 7-Day, 6-Day, 5-Day and Colt Members; that number today is 506. In addition, the number of 7-Day Members has decreased from 292 to 260, with the main increase being in the 6-Day category. What these results show us is that it isn’t the actual number of members we have that are causing issues on the course or preventing access to the Saturday competition, it is when those members are now choosing to play their golf that has changed.

As a result of this study and feedback from the Survey, I can confirm that the Board have now reviewed membership numbers fully and have actually placed caps on each of the playing categories to ensure that the number of available tee times we have on any given day, is not suffocated by the number of members. For your information, the 7-Day category is now deemed full, the Colt category only has a few spaces remaining, and the 6-Day category will be used to introduce any new members to the Club.

Question 22 from the Survey – Would you be prepared to pay more for your annual subscription if it meant that we had less members?

The replies were:
Yes – 34.3% - 83 members
No – 65.7% - 159 members

The results probably speak for themselves, and whilst this is only an assumption, it could be feasible that the same 80 members prepared to pay more for their subs, are the same 80 members that feel as though we currently have too many members.

This question in isolation doesn’t provide many answers other than it would be a most unpopular decision to increase fees in order to lessen the numbers of member, thus providing more availability for the remaining members.

Question 23 from the Survey - Would you be prepared to pay more for your annual subscription if it meant that we had less visitors?

The replies were:
Yes – 33.33% - 81 members
No – 66.67% - 162 members

An almost identical result to question 22, showing again that subscription rates are not the way forward to try and address income levels.

Each of the above questions, coupled with your individual comments, gives the Board a good knowledge base to work on a membership and income strategy for the coming years. We know where the majority of you sit in respect to subscription rates, we also know that member numbers are really at their peak; so the question we need to understand, is how to continue to grow, continue to improve and continue to offer the high standards of service that you all hope for and deserve? This is the question that will be discussed by the soon to be formed Strategic Committee.

Although I have reviewed the questions from the Survey, I can hear many of you wondering how these results impact the number of visitors on the course and what action is being taken? Well the answer is to follow.

It goes without saying that as a business, we have many fixed costs for operation, and only a few areas that leave us room for trimming expenses. Evidenced by this year’s budget where we are due to make a loss on our P&L after we have completed the course improvement works. The horrible reality is that in order to cut costs we will need to change the culture of the Club and the services we offer. We could not complete course improvement works, we could close the Clubhouse earlier, we could only serve hot food until 3.00pm (which happens at other Clubs), all of which would make significant savings, but none of these are what we want to do as a Club.

The equation the Board try and balance is how much revenue can we make from outside sources, such as visitors and societies, versus the experience members receive on a daily basis. This “balance” isn’t a perfect science and on occasion both myself and the Board would likely reconsider decisions that have been made in the past. That said, it is something that is continually discussed with the needs of the business and members’ value, being the two main considerations.

As a direct result of the Survey a new green fee structure was approved by the Board last week. It will be implemented from April 2019 and in the simplest form, our prices are going up. We hope to maintain the income received from our visitors, whilst lowering the number of rounds played to generate that income. We are implementing a charge for industry professionals to come and enjoy our course (including PGA pros and Greenkeepers) and we are moving our fee structure closer to our neighbours across the railway line. Our member guest fees will be remaining the same, and we will be monitoring more closely not only when group bookings are being taken, but also the amount of revenue we receive for course closures.

In addition to the new green fee structure, consideration is also being given to who can come and play at S&A during the winter months, in respect to our fellow Passport Scheme golfers, and larger visiting groups. The Board are conscious that not only do we want to give members the best access possible to the course, whilst maintaining revenue streams, we also want to prevent excessive wear and tear during periods of slower growth.

CLUBHOUSE RENOVATION PHASE 2

Another question raised by many of you was in relation to the continued Clubhouse Renovation. As you all know the Main Lounge area, Spike Bar and Dining Room were renovated a few years back now, and plans to complete the rest of the Clubhouse have been a working progress. Well, following our House Committee in July and the Board meeting last week, further progress has now been made.

Due to the cost of building a new front entrance, installing a new staircase, lift and reception area; plus completing a full redecoration of the upstairs corridor and the old office, the larger project has been parked for the time being. However, it has been agreed to break this project down into smaller sections so that the money in the bank will cover the cost of works and no further Clubhouse development levies will need to be applied. The House Committee are now working on plans to complete the old office renovation which will involve knocking through the wall from the spike bar to create a double door entrance, blocking up the old door (this area will be needed for a lift shaft one day) and blocking up the two smaller windows. The wall space we create in the newly refurbished room will be used for some of the honours boards not currently being showcased, and it is also being discussed to create a double sided display cabinet when the current display cabinet is in the corridor, as this will improve light to the room and allow us to display more of our fantastic historical documents.

Costs are being obtained at the moment, and final plans will be discussed by the Board again in September. Depending on what is agreed, work may commence this winter for completion early next year. We will keep you updated as information is available.

QUICK ANSWER QUESTIONS:

5 & 6 Day Members should have a vote – For whoever wrote this, they actually do have a vote. All full members, and if you read the handbook full members are determined as those in membership categories 7-Day, 6-Day and 5-Day, will receive a vote after 1 year of membership as per the Articles of Association.

Slow play on Saturdays – In recent months I have been on the course trying to help players with the pace of play and offer support where needed. As I am sure you can appreciate, not all members wanted my help or advice, nor do they see it as an issue if they want to take their time to enjoy their Saturday morning. We have now appointed Michael as our Saturday Marshal, and the Board discussed the matter at our last meeting. It was agreed that whilst improvements can always be made, the onus is really on the members to keep up with the group in front and play ready golf, something that is now supported and advertised by the R&A.

The Board – Not an overly elaborate comment, but nevertheless it gives me the opportunity to inform you all that the Board are actually currently reviewing the governance structure and have been using some of the industry published material to help in this process. Any changes in the current system would of course need to be presented to all members via an EGM or AGM as the rules with the Articles of Association are binding until a Company vote has taken place, but all areas of the Club are being reviewed systematically and if improvements can be made then they will be considered.

Better Practice Facilities – This matter will be presented to the Green Committee once plans are confirmed for this winter’s work. I am fortunate enough to have worked on some fantastic practice area re-models and I think it would be a great addition to our facilities to improve what we have currently. That said, financing is always the question that will need to be answered and when spending the member’s money, other projects and plans also need to be considered. A good suggestion and one that will be considered as part of the Club’s 5-year plan.

Improve Newsletter Communications – Hopefully this person has noticed a change over recent months with more and more information being communicated. It takes a little time to gain an understanding of how any membership would like to be kept up to speed with information, and what that information should be. Hopefully I have now gained some understanding and you are reading the newsletter with more interest.

The 2018 Member Survey and Results are now complete, and I would like to thank those of you who participated. All the results and information will be kept on file for use, and as more decisions are made by the Board you will be updated accordingly.

Thank you.

Philip Worthington
General Manager

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Course Status
Currently open
25.06.2018 16:40
Course Open as Normal Until Further Notice.