AS GOLF courses, resorts and clubs alike try and deal with the current pandemic situation, containing many variables including; membership renewal periods, furloughing staff, reducing other costs significantly, one club answered the cry of all their members the very same day that the news broke.
Haydock Park Golf Club, in Newton-Le-Willows, has frozen their membership year and will only start again for a period of 12 months once the lockdown was lifted and normality restored. Furthermore, to help encourage members to commit to their renewals now, the club promoted their monthly payment scheme, run by Fairway Credit, and are paying the interest on all payments for all members during the closed period.
The club’s business manager Stephen Nicholson explains the reasons for the move and the prompt response to the situation: “The board and I have been holding regular conference calls to keep abreast of the situation and we had arranged another one for the morning of Tuesday 24thMarch, half expecting further developments. This placed us in a great position to discuss the situation in detail. Our membership year runs April to the following March so the timing of the enforced closure could not have been worse. At that point we had only received 15% of the renewals for the new membership year.
“The Board agreed that members should only pay for when we’re open, so that made the decision to freeze the membership straightforward.
“The problem with the move to us as a business would be the effect on cashflow. We considered members might not want to pay all the money upfront for their subscription, but the club didn’t want to have multiple and split payment methods. We have the two-payment options; upfront and monthly using Fairway Credit. For the monthly payment option Fairway Credit charge the member an interest fee of around 7% which on a 7-day membership costs around £70 for the year over 10 monthly instalments. The scheme has the following benefits:
- Members commit to their subscription, but only paying monthly instalments at a fraction of the cost to paying upfront in full
- The golf club receives the entire amount of subscription up front
“With these benefits in mind it made sense for us to promote this payment method to help boost our cashflow and the respective members cashflow whilst taking a calculated risk in covering the interest payments for our members during the closed period.”
The result of the move sees the club with over 70% of their renewals now processed whilst they have also extended the deadline for members to renew by as well as confirming with their respective captains that their year of office will extend into the 2021/22 season – whatever that may look like.
“The majority of our members have always come up to the office to pay their fees, with this now no longer an option we have been directing our members to contact us and pay by the other methods, such as; BACS, online transfer, over the phone etc. This might take some getting used to, so we have extended the deadline for membership renewals to the 15thApril. We hope to get another 10% of the membership renewing by this point and once this whole crisis blows over the remaining body of the membership who haven’t been able to commit to us will hopefully come back as well.
“We had just about managed to stage our Captains Drive-In the weekend before the closure which was well attended given the social distancing measures and circumstances. Unfortunately, it looks as though a large part of our captains’ respective years will be wiped out and as a result, we have already agreed with all respective parties that their years of office will run into 2021/22.
“We felt we needed to be decisive to help appease our members during this difficult time and that decisiveness looks to have paid dividends.”
These are exceptional times which call for exceptional measures. Measures that the Government themselves have taken to try to ensure that the UK economy survives this global pandemic. In an industry that seldom makes change maybe this is the time for golf clubs to make more decisions of this nature and safeguard their futures too.
Pictured is Haydock Park’s business manager Stephen Nicholson.