It seems as though this last summer passed through rapidly with attention now turning to many activities throughout the winter period, Autumn Ball, Christmas Festive Menu, New Year’s Celebrations and Burns Night to name a few.
As per previous member updates, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide members with an in-depth report on many areas across the club.
Members will be aware that earlier this year the Board regretfully accepted the resignation of the Director of Health and Safety. Until September, the position remained vacant and was recently filled by Mr Stewart Boyce, who has been co-opted for the remainder of this club year. On Wednesday 5th October, we wrote to members with a specific Health and Safety update which can be viewed here.
Members will be aware that the process of amalgamating ‘Fairhaven Golf Club Limited’ and ‘Fairhaven Golf Club Bar and Catering Limited’ has now been completed. Having had our auditors carry out extensive forecasting from previous years, it was understood that combining the businesses back into one entity will financially benefit the club moving forward.
Staying with finance, I felt it prudent to provide members with an update, especially given the financial crisis being experienced by many in the UK. Like many individuals and businesses, we are experiencing rising costs in areas across the club. As a team we continue to work hard to ensure minimal financial waste, although, with RPI currently sitting at a yearly average 2.7% above the subscription increase for the current membership year, the budget has continually been flexed to ensure we mitigate risk and maintain optimum financial performance. Unfortunately, this model cannot be sustained, especially with the assumed increases across the business for the 2023 membership year and beyond.
In addition to general increases to basic essentials such as fuel, we continue to see further price rises in areas such as gas, which will hugely impact club expenditure. To continue mitigating these increases, whilst sustaining our model of maintaining limited financial waste, the process for setting next year’s budget commenced some 2-months earlier than normal. The reason for this was to ensure that we can best manage the club's finances through this difficult time. Certain items within next year’s budget will no doubt see significant increases and we continue to review all available options to ensure financial optimisation continues to be achieved. Further information on the subscription fees will be provided to members at the earliest opportunity.
Throughout the year there have been many success stories from within the team's financial operation. The Food and Beverage team has continued to exceed the projected levels of revenue for the year, and despite at the beginning of the year ambitiously aiming to increase income by 9.1%, we have exceeded this and forecast an uplift of 16.3% for the year.
Our GP is also reflective of the sound sales figures, achieving a collective average of 61%, which I believe to be a very solid figure against clubs with comparative turnover expectations. In addition, our staff-to-turnover ratio remains controlled, currently projecting a year-end outcome of 66%.
Continued evaluation of events has taken place throughout the season, and now having completed the summer of Open Competitions we are pleased to advise that these provide excellent levels of profit to the operation, with a collective net profit of £12,200 for the year being achieved.
With this positive uplift in income and the efficiencies being made within the department on a daily basis, we are forecasting to make an improvement on the previous operational deficits, which averaged £132,000 for 2021 and 2020 (Note – 2022 has been excluded as the figures included covid-19 grants). We continue to navigate the increasing cost of materials (food in particular) to ensure we carry value to our members. Although these purchases have increased significantly this year, we remain positive we can continue to see reduced operating costs through increased efficiencies being made.
In line with external revenue, we have continued to make excellent strides with average visitor green fee income and this year will see an increase of £23, up to £76 per visitor. This is reflected in the number of rounds played by visitors this year, which compared to last the full season (2019) shows a reduction of over 300 golfers but an increase in revenue of over £20,000.
* Impacted by Covid
The Golf Course
In addition to the recent Winter Maintenance Programme update for 2022/23, a copy of which can be viewed here, I would like to use this forum to present further information relating to greens.
THE PRACTICE GROUND
The practice ground is a fabulous member facility, and it is one that we must protect.
On 7th July 2022, I wrote to all members advising that the number of balls being reported landing in neighbouring properties had increased and would like to take this opportunity to explain why this may be the case.
In November when we experienced Storm Arwen, members’ attention was initially drawn to the catastrophic damage to the practice ground and many trees on-site, such as those to the right of the 18th green. Sadly, damage wasn’t limited to these areas. To the right-hand side of the practice ground we lost a leylandii tree approximately 140 – 150 yards from the teeing area. This tree fell onto one of the neighbouring properties and had it not had been for a concrete fence post, the damage sustained would have been much more severe. Thankfully there were no casualties and the damage was somewhat limited.
Moving forward to the present day, the loss of this tree is clearly causing problems as it no longer provides a barrier between the range and neighbouring properties. Although we are exploring options of alternative protection for this year, we expect that there will be no cheap or quick fix.
Taking the above into consideration, I must echo the previous message that should your ball be heading towards the practice ground boundaries, a shout of FORE MUST be given so that both golfers to the left of the facility (10th tee) and neighbours to the right are warned of errant shots and can take precautions.
If you, unfortunately, strike a ball that leaves the facility, specifically to the right-hand side, you MUST now report this to the Professional immediately. If the Professional Shop is closed, then members MUST report such incidents to the Administration Team either in person if the office is open or by email to email@example.com.
Sticking with the Practice Ground, I would like to advise members of two important updates that must be adhered to whilst using the facility:
- Shots should not be hit from outside of the designated bays, particularly from the available space to the left-hand side. This is strictly prohibited.
- Shots are restricted to a maximum of 230 yards. Clubs should not be used that can reach that distance or further at any time.
Members are reminded that the Course Managers Blog can be viewed by clicking here.
Whilst it is a cross-over between Greens and Membership, I wanted to touch on the ever-improving Junior Section.
To continue with the excellent progress achieved to date, we must look to improve the development pathway of Juniors from the range to the course. It will shortly be evident to members that markers are being placed around the course, allowing the younger members who need a shorter course the opportunity to play. It is, however, worth noting that any member may use these new, shorter tee positions should they wish.
The location of the tees has been identified by assessing the difficulty presented to the Junior Golfer, whilst reviewing the implications on the wider membership and greens operation. The teeing ground will be a fixed position, marked with a flat disk on the floor, not dissimilar to the example below (wording will read a single number for example “1”):
We hope that this will aid the continuous development of the Junior section, making it easy for new golfers to transition from the range to the course.
The junior section
For those that have been down to the Club on a Sunday afternoon, you cannot fail to notice the increased buzz and activity on the practice ground and putting green. Back in April Gill Jakeman took over as the Junior Organiser and since then the section has continued to evolve quicker than anyone could have imagined. This is a true reflection of the tremendous work going into the provision of golf for our younger members by many, in particular Gill.
Since then, we have seen a steady increase in attendance from existing members and also new juniors who have joined our ranks.
It's great to see the Junior section coming to life again and there are several initiatives in place to support the development and growth of the section.
- Regular weekly coaching sessions are back up and running. The structure of the sessions will continue to evolve as attendance grows and we better understand how to manage the different requirements of the very new/young golfers vs the more experienced/better players.
- The Heja app is now in use to manage attendance at the coaching sessions.
- A small number of tee times are being made available on a Sunday afternoon (post coaching session) for juniors who are course ready and working towards gaining their handicap. We ask that you are patient and supportive of these juniors. Volunteer members walk the course with them and endeavour to teach basic rules, etiquette, remind them of pace of play etc .... but they are learning and it doesn't always go to plan!
- A Junior/Short Course is being developed which will provide a good opportunity to the ‘newbies’ to get onto the course and obtain a handicap whilst not being too punishing in the first instance.
- A couple of Junior competitions have been held this year and two fun member/junior greensomes competitions have been held with great success. A full schedule of Junior competitions is being planned for next season, including the reintroduction of many of the trophies which have not been competed for over the last few years.
- We are hoping that we will be in a position to field a 'Fairhaven' junior team to represent the club in the Fylde Junior League events once again in the not-too-distant future.
There are lots of other ideas on the table and also organisations we can engage with that support junior golf e.g. England Golf, and these are being explored, but the main aim this season was to get the existing junior members re-engaged and provide a consistent, weekly coaching session.
Finally, Gill Jakeman, our Junior Organiser, has a loyal band of volunteers but is ALWAYS looking for extra helpers, to either help with Sunday coaching or walk the course with the juniors. If you are interested please get in touch.
Despite the season drawing to a close, I wanted to finish this particular member update celebrating the conclusion of the 2022 Lady Captain’s Finals and Captain’s Finals. Through the 2022 season, a staggering 1091 attempts to qualify for the Finals were made, with 332 rounds played collectively over both weekends.
The Lady Captain’s Finals was competed for on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th August, two days which saw blistering heat welcome all competitors. The golf on display was equal to the weather with some excellent scoring recorded.
Our congratulations to go to the overall winner, Mrs Paula Leah, who recorded two fantastic scores of 68 and 75 for a 143 aggregate total.
More recently, the Captain’s Finals were staged on the 3rd and 4th September, with no fewer than 160 qualifying for this year’s event. At the beginning of the weekend, the forecast did not look favourable with storms at times being predicted. After the opening round, 83 players sat with a score of 78, seventeen returning a score of even par of better.
With one of the most exciting finishes in recent years, the eventual winner claimed a tight 1-stroke victory. Our congratulations go to Mr Jim Fisher whose return of 71 and 69 for a 140 total aggregate saw an end to his wait of more than 33 years for the title.
Mark Duncalf | General Manager | October 2022