In spite of the restrictions that we are living under I hope this newsletter finds you all well and managing to get some golf played, in what is increasingly some colder weather. I wanted to use this newsletter to keep you up to date with what has been happening around the club.
The greens staff have been busy with the start of their winter work particularly on the greens. They have been coring and dressing the greens in preparation for next year. The course is softening up as it always does at this time of the year and it is particularly important that we remember to repair any plug marks on the greens to give them the best chance to recover.
Our new greenkeeper Robbie started some weeks ago and has settled in well and is proving a valuable addition to the staff.
Our prize-giving was due to be held next week but owing to the present restrictions it has been cancelled. A date for 12th February 2021 has been pencilled in which hopefully by then will allow us to hold what is always a highlight of the golfing year. Once all the competitions are finished we will publish a list of the prize-winners for this year.
As we all know the hospitality industry has been hit hard over the past few months. It has had a significant impact on the income to the golf club, as well as affecting our caterer Nicola. She has been very proactive in trying various ways in which to cater for us all, while we are unable to use the clubhouse. At the moment catering is available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 4 pm on a takeaway basis.
As well as the usual bacon rolls etc, she is also doing afternoon teas as well as a selection of main courses. I am sure members will give her every support during these difficult times.
Over the past couple of weeks there has been a lot of work going on in the lounge. As well as painting there is new carpeting, the chairs have been recovered and new tables purchased. Sandra Love our house convenor has worked extremely hard on this project and I would like to express my thanks to her for all her efforts. In Sandra’s words there are one or two ‘’ finishing touches ‘’ still to be done. However I am sure that when we are able to re-open the upstairs parts of the clubhouse members will feel that the lounge is somewhere that they will feel comfortable in either enjoying some food or a drink.
I am hopeful that we will be able to keep the locker rooms open over the coming months. As I mentioned before course conditions are becoming very soft. This obviously has as effect on our golf equipment, particularly our golf shoes. With the ban on the use of air hoses I appreciate that shoes are very muddy after a game. It has been noticeable that some members are cleaning their shoes in the locker rooms and leaving the grass and mud lying on the floor. I would ask that this practice stops as it is having a detrimental effect on the ability to keep the locker areas clean. I would ask for your co-operation with this.
CLUB INCOME AND SUBSCRIPTIONS
As we are all aware this year has been difficult financially for everyone and the golf club is no exception. It has been a challenge in trying to keep unnecessary expenditure to a minimum while ensuring that the club can continue to function in the future when eventually things return to some sort of normality.
I would like to highlight a couple of areas where we have seen the biggest drop in income compared to last year.
Our green fee revenue from outings and visitors is down by about £20000. Last year our bar income to end of August was £88,000. This year up to the end of August it was just over £44,000 (total sales not profit).
However we saw a significant increase in new members, many paying a pro rata membership fee during the year which helped to offset some of this lost revenue.
Some members may not be aware that we pay an affiliation fee to Scottish Golf and the Lothians Golf Association. The subscription fee for 2020 was made up of members’ subscription £719 + affiliation fees of £16. These affiliation fees are mandatory. Scottish Golf collect £14.50 per member and the Lothians Golf Association £1.50. For 2021 we have already been advised that we will be due £8236 to Scottish Golf and approximately £750 to the Lothians. Liberton has always included this affiliation fee in the annual subscription but from this year we felt it was helpful to show it separately.
Although our fees were £735 for this year in effect we had £719 of income from each member once the SG and LG fee is taken off.
I would like to put on record that despite the year that we have had the club is in a healthy financial position. Not unexpectedly we will post a loss on the year’s figures but it will be entirely manageable and given the hope that we can return next year to a ‘’ normal ‘’ year we are confident that our income streams will return somewhere close to where we would expect them to be.
On Tuesday we had a council meeting to fully discuss the finances of the club. The constitution states that we have to inform the membership of the annual subscription for the following year by the 31st October.
We looked at what the effect would be in not increasing the subs and if we did increase what amount they should be raised by. Can I say at this time that the loyalty and financial commitment given by the members over this most difficult of years has been greatly appreciated. I know of some clubs who lost many members this year and we are very grateful to everyone for their continued support.
After a full and frank discussion about the subscription for next year a decision was taken to increase the fee by £15. This rise equates to just under 29 pence a week. The fees for next year will be £734 + £16 affiliation fees giving a total of £750. All other categories will be increased proportionately. We discussed not putting the subs up but felt that to do so we would at best stand still and in effect with rising costs move backwards. Everyone knows that our domestic costs in the home are rising and the golf club is in the same situation. Course materials cost more, heating and lighting for the clubhouse are the same. This year the cost of preparing for the clubhouse re opening after the lockdown cost us about £1500 to supply all the cleaning and sanitising products as well as all the signage that was required. There has also been an increase in staffing costs to accommodate table service. Some of these costs will be with us for some time to come. A further loss of income resulted with the inability to host functions in the clubhouse such as funerals and hiring the lounge out for weddings etc.
I realise that the decision to raise subs will not be universally popular, however we are still one of the cheapest clubs in Edinburgh for membership. The condition of our course during the season is one of the best in Edinburgh. It is important to continue to invest in the course both to give us the members the best course possible but also to attract visitors which adds to our income.
The decision to raise the subscription was not taken lightly but council felt that it was necessary in order to keep the club moving forward.
I was just coming to the end of this newsletter when the First Minister announced the new tier system. We will be in tier 3 which allows for some re-opening of the hospitality industry.
Nicola will resume catering in the lounge from Monday 2nd November. She will serve a restricted menu between 10.00 am until 4.00 pm. Please note that payment will be by cash only as Nicola does not have the facility to use the Club card.
We are not able at this stage to open the bar for alcohol and council feel it is not economically viable to open for soft drinks only.
Please remember to fill in the track and trace form in the lounge.
Members should also note that from Monday until further notice the clubhouse will close at 5.00 pm.
I hope you all continue to stay safe.