Coronavirus updates (past)
I am delighted that after almost 8 weeks I am able to send out a positive communication to you all.
You will probably have seen reports over the last 24 hours regarding steps to ease the lockdown. These steps include the incremental unlocking of sports such as golf and tennis – but only within a social distancing framework.
During the course of the day, there has been conflicting advice from both the government and England Golf about when and how to reopen facilities. To some extent this is still work in progress e.g. practice facilities.
The arrangements that have been agreed by the Board this afternoon are set out in the Reopening Plan. We trust that Members will support the Board and work within these arrangements such that, in time, further easing of the restrictions is possible and that competitions and other golf club events can be resumed. These temporary arrangements will be reviewed on a very regular basis.
That said, the Board is acutely aware that Coronavirus has not gone away and that golf is in a privileged position as one of the few sports to be re-started at this early stage in easing the lockdown. Therefore, we are implementing arrangements which will both minimise the possibility of members contracting the virus and are in accordance with the governments social distancing advice.
As you will see from the Reopening Plan the tee booking sheet will open on Tuesday 12th May at 10.00am. We will try to make this transition to online booking as smooth as possible, however we have been warned by Intelligent Golf that there is a huge pressure on their systems due to the increasing number of clubs moving to online tee bookings.
I am available should you encounter any technical issues with the new online booking system.
I really look forward to welcoming golfers back to the club in the coming days.
Re-opening of golf - update 10 May 2020
We have now had another correspondence from England Golf - please click the link below for their statement:
England Golf Statement - click here
The Board will be working out how best to accommodate the new measures. We will issue a further announcement by tomorrow evening (May 11).
Thank you to all those members who sent in pictures - click here to view. Keep sending them in! (last updated 10 May)
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE - 8 May 2020
Re-opening of golf
Hopefully we will soon learn when golf courses can open again. Let’s see what the Prime Minister says on Sunday AND we will wait for instructions from England Golf, golf's governing body.
Over the past few weeks the Board has been working on the arrangements which will apply when golf resumes. Clearly we do not yet know what rules or guidelines will be imposed by government or England Golf, but we anticipate that – in the next phase – we may be restricted to:
2 Balls only
10 minute intervals between groups
Mandatory online booked tee times
Social distancing at all times (e.g. between car and 1st tee)
Clubhouse (excluding toilets) will remain closed until further notice
Experience from other countries indicates that there will be a high demand when the course re-opens, especially as few members will be away on holiday. Given that we have over 600 playing members and the principles set out above, we will probably need to limit the number of rounds, each member can play in a week, initially to two. This may change based on experience.
Although members are familiar with the procedure for online booking of tee times for competitions, using a booking system for social golf will be a change to our culture which we will have to get used to until restrictions ease further.
Our existing website and software management system, Intelligent Golf, has the ability to manage tee bookings. Within the members area you may have seen a recent addition under the ‘My Golf’ tab of the option to ‘Book Teetime’.
Over the past few days, I have been working with Intelligent Golf to set up the system to allow bookings to be made. I have enlisted the help of a few members to test the system to make sure it works and to identify and resolve issues prior to launch. So, if you are perusing the website and see names appearing on the tee sheet, this is only for test purposes.
As soon as we know more about the government’s approach to easing lock-down, we will finalise the arrangements to be applied within the Club. We will require a few days to implement these new systems. A full communication will be issued to members as soon as possible which will include instructions on how to book a tee time and the procedures to ensure we maintain social distancing.
Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you back at the Club soon.
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE - 14 April 2020
In advance of the Open Meeting on 23rd April, the Board would like to provide information and communicate some proposals on the finances of the club so that members are prepared for the meeting. The summary is:
The club is solvent and remains in a relatively healthy financial position, but renewal of subscriptions will be crucial to the future stability of the club
The Board intends to freeze 2020/21 membership subscriptions at the 2019/20 level
As the owners and custodians of a private members’ club we have a collective responsibility to preserve and protect the club, especially in times of considerable uncertainty
The club is solvent
The Board is carefully managing the finances of the club and taking decisions daily to protect our financial position. Revenue for the remainder of this financial year (to end June 2020) has inevitably fallen, by around £215k, primarily from loss of bar, catering, visitors and society green fees. We have taken immediate steps to reduce our expenditure for the remainder of the financial year, deferring all discretionary spend and delaying our new equipment lease. This has resulted in a projected operating cost reduction of around £151k. Deferment of capital projects, including the bar refurbishment project, has made a further saving of £46k. We have taken many other steps to mitigate the position, including deferring satellite TV payments, applying for rates holiday and preparing a claim under our business continuity insurance. Our current cost reduction plans will not affect the excellent condition of our golf course which we continue to maintain.
We have made it a priority to take care of our staff. We have activated the government’s furlough scheme for all clubhouse staff and have introduced a reduced-hours shift pattern for greens staff, to allow us to take further advantage of the furlough scheme. We have budgeted to pay all staff 100% of their salaries at least until the end of the financial year. We have honoured our commitment to the club’s new professional and have paid him the first tranche of his retainer.
While the financial impact of the Coronavirus has been substantial, the club remains solvent. We started the year with a significant positive cash position and are forecasting a positive cashflow of around £140k at the end of the financial year. In addition, we have established a contingency fund to allow us to respond to future uncertainty. Finally, as a reminder, the club has no debt to service and we own the assets of the club outright, including the land, the clubhouse and house next to the 18th green.
In the light of the financial difficulty which affects all of us, the Board has a priority to retain as many members of the club as possible. The Board intends to freeze the membership subscription at the 2019/20 level. While there are payment schemes available to members to spread the cost of subscriptions across the year, we would encourage those members who can pay the full subscription to do so, as this has a significant positive effect on our overall cashflow.
The Board fully understands that individual members have very different financial positions and that the response to the global pandemic will cause serious financial difficulties for some. With this in mind the Board is working up short term measures on subscriptions which will be outlined at the Open Meeting on 23rd April. The Board is also working on further measures to make golf more affordable in the short term and these will also be outlined at the Open Meeting.
The finances of the club do not permit us to offer members refunds on their subscriptions for the time they have been denied access to the clubhouse and course. As a guide, a one-month refund for all members would cost the club around £75-80k. Put simply, we cannot afford it.
Ownership and Stewardship of Gerrards Cross Golf Club
While the members legally own the golf club we are also collectively custodians of the club. The course and the facilities we enjoy today are funded by the subscriptions and revenue that the club earns. More than 75% of the club’s annual revenue is contributed by members’ subscriptions. But we also benefit from all the actions and investments that previous generations of members have made going back almost 100 years. In the same way, we hold the club in trust for ourselves and for all the future generations of members to come.
Our financial modelling suggests that the next financial year will be challenging and the number members who renew their subscriptions is a critical, though unknown, factor. We would politely request that those members who are able to renew their membership do so promptly. If there are any members would like to pay subscriptions in advance for future years, we would be happy to discuss this. The Board will continue to take mitigating actions to preserve the financial stability of the club.
As we approach the centenary of the golf club, and especially in the current challenging times, we would ask you to reflect on the importance of our stewardship of the golf club and the principle that each generation of members should try to leave the club in a better position than it found it.
In closing, the Board hopes that all members stay safe and well in these exceptionally difficult times. We look forward to a time when we can get back to playing golf and enjoying the facilities of our outstanding club.
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE - 3 April 2020
We hope you are keeping well in these challenging times.
Whilst our primary concern continues to be the day-to-day wellbeing of members and staff we also need to address the future health of the Club. Thankfully our staff are permitted to undertake essential maintenance of the course so there is no immediate threat in this area. Our financial situation is not so rosy: revenue from bar and catering and from green fees has dried up and no new members are joining. These factors leave a significant shortfall of available cash to meet our future requirements. Consequently, over the past two weeks the Board and management have taken steps to protect the Club’s finances as best we can: for example, we have cancelled all discretionary expenditures and are applying for all of the relevant government initiatives.
As a business, the Club is fundamentally reliant on subscription income and – given that the new subscription year starts on 1st July – we will soon need to take decisions on the level of subscriptions for 2020/21. To inform this process, we have developed a set of medium-term scenarios and have worked up a series of financial models to assess their implications. It goes without saying that if our membership falls then so does our revenue and, with it, the quality of the amenities the Club.
The Board would like to share its current thinking with members and – in more normal circumstances – would invite you to an Open Meeting at the Club. Sadly we cannot offer the opportunity to come along, meet friends and have a drink in the usual way. However, hopefully, technology can come to our aid.
I am sure many of you have explored new ways to of communicating since social distancing was introduced. One widely used method is an app called Zoom which the Board has been utilising to hold meetings and discussions. We would like to use Zoom to reach out to all members and hold a Zoom Open Meeting on 23rd April at 6.30pm for members to listen to the Board’s thinking.
An email will be sent out prior to the meeting which will include a link for members to click on in order to join the meeting. There will be an opportunity to submit questions, which will be answered as best we can on the evening, but it may be that we have to revert back to you with a more detailed response later.
If you are unable to join the online the meeting will be recorded and the transcript will be available on the website for members to view.
I hope as many of you as possible will be able to join us on 23rd April.
UPDATE - 24 March 2020
I am now sure by now you will all have seen the Prime Ministers speech from last night or the email from the golf club. We have now had further clarification on the position through golf’s governing body, England Golf on the issues around golf course opening/closing and the ability to be able to maintain it.
In essence the two main points are:
All golf courses around the country are closed until further notice
Green keeping staff can continue to work to provide security and essential maintenance
To read the full statement from England Golf click here.
We would like to say thank you to the vast majority of members who acted on our decision that the course was shut – however as a reminder to the very few that felt that this did not apply to them – it applies to all of us, and for very good reasons. May I also confirm that the practice range is also closed.
We have also now had confirmation from our Golf Professional that he will not be offering coaching sessions until further notice. In the current circumstance we fully understand and support this decision. It goes without saying that what should have been an exciting time for Alex to launch his new venture is disappointingly on hold, but we are sure you will all be supporting him once we can get back to normal times.
The Board are continuing to meet (via Conferencing) on a regular basis with the following immediate objectives.
- To ensure that arrangements are in place to maintain and improve the golf course such that it is in excellent condition once we are allowed to resume.
- To manage our finances in such a way that we emerge from this period with a successful financial base for the future. The present circumstances have a significant negative impact on our revenue, but we are closely controlling all expenditures and have delayed major investments. We are confident that we can manage our cash profile through to the end of June.
- To ensure that our staff are well looked after (both those who are classified as essential workers and those who are not working) so that we are well prepared once we are allowed to resume business as usual.
- To continue planning on activities that will help to develop the club once we are allowed to open both course and clubhouse. In this regard we will shortly be sending out a questionnaire re the design aspects of the club house refurbishment. Clearly there can be no financial commitment until we fully understand our long-term financial position.
We will continue to keep members updated with any further news or guidance.
Update 23 March 2020
Following the Prime Minister's announcement the course is closed immediately until we understand exactly what the implications of tonight’s announcement is for the course generally and the people who maintain it.
We are seeking clarification on the detail of the announcement and we will get a further communication out to members tomorrow. We regret that we have had to take this decision, but this is part of a much bigger global issue.
Update - 17 March 2020
Since the club’s update last week re Coronavirus events have moved on at a significant pace. In the light of the Government’s updated advice regarding the Coronavirus situation the Board met yesterday evening to decide the Club’s response, and we have agreed the following way forward with the intention of protecting the well-being of both our members and staff.
Golf Course and Practice Facilities
The golf course and practice facilities will remain open although members are asked to follow some sensible practical steps as set out below.
- Change your shoes in the car park and put on a golf glove – use the gloved hand when making contact with doors, keypads or other hard surfaces.
- Play with flag sticks in and therefore no need to touch them.
- Bunker rakes will be removed – please smooth bunkers with your club or foot.
- Do not use the ball washers.
- Keep at least 2m from others at all times – do not shake hands.
- Take litter home with you (bins on the course are being removed).
- The range baskets will be removed so please bring your own basket or container.
- The shoe/trolley cleaning facility will be disconnected and therefore out of use.
- When accessing the course or side gate to the practice facilities please use your members card, not the key pad. On leaving the course please do not use your bare hand when pressing the green exit button. We are reviewing this position.
The greens team will continue to maintain the course in the best possible condition, but we would ask members to avoid interaction with greens staff as we want to minimise the risk of critical members of staff being unavailable for work.
For now, guests and visitors will continue to be allowed to use the course upon payment of the normal green fee. We are planning to introduce an on-line payment process so that there is minimal contact in the pro-shop. Alex or a member of the pro shop staff will formally sign in members guests and visitors when you report to the pro shop.
Unfortunately for hygiene reasons we are closing the restroom facilities by the 11th tee, again in the best interest of all of our members and the cleaning staff.
We have considered the possibility of continuing with competitive golf, however given the difficulties we envisage in administering these we have decided that all competitions, including knockouts are cancelled with immediate effect. We are investigating, using the IG technology, whether we could run fun comps/supplementary cards through the system. We will update as and when we make progress on this.
The greatest risk of transmission of the virus is in the clubhouse. The Board considered partial closure but came to the conclusion that full closure was the only realistic option. Therefore, it has been decided that the clubhouse will be closed from 7pm tomorrow (Wednesday 18th). Access to the locker room will be permitted until the end of Saturday so that members can remove equipment from their lockers. We appreciate that some members may be unable to remove kit in these timescales – in these instances please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com to arrange access.
There will be no access to toilet facilities for health reasons. We consider this to be in the best interests of our members and cleaning staff.
The defibrillator will be re-located to a readily accessible location either in or adjacent to the pro shop.
It obviously follows from this that all external events and club activities that use the clubhouse will be cancelled. Adam is liaising with organisers as appropriate and we are particularly sad that this also impacts on upcoming member funerals.
Professional Shop / Coaching
Alex has decided that he wants to keep both the shop open and to continue coaching. We are supporting him in this approach, and we are all agreed that a range of sensible measures can be put in place to ensure no unnecessary risks are taken. It is unlikely that there will be any group lessons. The shop will therefore remain open and Alex will use his discretion and judgement about giving lessons in the swing studio and on the range,
Administration and Finance
Obviously, the office will be closed but both Adam and Janet will be available online to deal with member queries as appropriate. They may well be working from home, but this will not impact on responses. They will also be periodically remotely accessing the phone voice messages should any member prefer this method of communication.
The current situation will place a strain on the club’s finances. Our bar and catering income will be hard hit, but we will continue to pay our full-time staff. Other discretionary expenditure will be put on hold until the position becomes clearer. We are sure that members will understand that any refund of fees / cessation of direct debits is not a realistic option in these circumstances.
The Board considers that, for now, these actions strike an appropriate balance between avoiding the risk of virus transmission and allowing members to enjoy some fresh air and exercise. For information, the Board meeting yesterday was held using teleconferencing facilities and future Board and Sub-Committee meetings will be held in this manner as a way of avoiding personal interaction.
We are in extraordinary times which haven’t been experienced in our lifetime. There is no definite right/wrong re the decisions we have taken, and we most certainly will have forgotten some things. We will be continuing to monitor the situation and any suggestions from members will be welcomed.