2013 Another Highly Successful Year At Pontardawe Golf Club ............... So Whats The Secret ?
One of the biggest factors undoubtedly is that Pontardawe Golf Club is a members club owned by the members. In theory that means that every member is a shareholder and has an input into decisions that the committee makes on club and course expenditure and fees etc. Although members are confident most of the decisions made by their own elected committee are the right ones so the members rarely need to have any input.
Members at privately owned clubs don't have that luxury and no matter how good their elected committee is, sometimes it's a puppet committee and any decisions they make can be overturned by the owners at the drop of a hat.
Over the years, golf courses and golf clubs have changed. "They are no longer golf clubs, they are multi million pound businesses and have to be run like a business, by business minded people"
I remember making that statement when I was on the golf club committee several years ago and in fairness that's the way that the old style committee seems to have evolved into the committee we have now. They've moved forward with the times and out of the old school golf club committee regime, relaxing some of the old school rules to suit the modern day business requirements, whilst keeping the prestigious traditions of a golf club alive. Good business heads making good business decisions, but at all times keeping the members requirements at the forefront.
My view of my committee election was as I said, all the members are theoretically, shareholders of the club and after being elected onto the committee by the members my first and most important task was to look after the members investments. I knew if, I looked after my investment at heart, I would be looking after the members investments the same time.
We are now, without any shadow of doubt, one of the best run golf businesses in the South Wales, that's not just by chance, it's through making the right business decisions at the right times. Don't get me wrong, we've all have made some bad decisions along the way, but so long as you learn from any bad decisions, rectify any issues caused by bad judgements and ensure they don't happen again, you're on a winner.
In the back of your mind remember one thing " Even when you fall flat on your face, you're still moving forward, a measure of a good business can quite often be how quickly and at what cost you put a something right."
One of the best ways of judging how you are doing as a business is hold a share holders or members meeting, in affect that's what could be deemed the 'Annual General Meeting' in a golf club. If there is anything controversial on the agenda or anything contentious that has happened over the past year, or isproposed to happen over the coming year. You normally find a packed house on the basis of the members not being happy with decisions committee's have made, or are proposing to be make, then you see members attend agm's in thier droves to oppose what they see as bad decisions.
When you attend a packed house for an agm. as was the case at Pontardawe Golf Club this year, when there was nothing on the agenda, apart from the election of officers for the coming year and handing the reigns over to the 2014 club captain. You sit and listen to the financial report for the previous year and how expenditures will work for the coming year and nobody asks any questions at all, that's got to mean the members are happy with the way the business is being run by the committee that they elected for the term, instilling confidence in all.
Over the years, we've looked at the way we work with our staff, making them fully aware of how decisions they make affect the business, especially with our head green keeper Jamie Probert by bringing him more and more into the business side of the course and machinery expenditure decisions and by using his abundance of knowledge we now have an excellent cost effective, business working relationship with Jamie and his green keeping team.
" The proof is plain to see, look at what we've achieved over the last few years by making the right decisions."
New tees, better greens, buggy paths and new buggies. New Bridges, new ditches and an ongoing yearly drainage plan which is already allowing us to play winter golf in drier ground conditions, albeit we've just had one of the wettest winters on record. We've invested over two hundred thousand pounds on new machinery, reducing the man hours required for cutting greens, aprons, fairways and the rough. Our ground staff now have more time to carry out other essential course work owing to the fact that the new machinery is far quicker and even after reducing the ground staff by one man they still have more time for other course works. Again the playability of the course, even through the winter has increased our visitor green fees and I'm confident that this year we will see a further increase in summer visitors and societies.
Our club pro shop employee structure has been changed and the shop is now being stocked with better more saleable stock items, which is proving to be a very good financial decision.
Golf clubs traditionally are busier in the summer than the winter, due to our climate. The decision to change the competition structure for the winter league proved to be a huge hit with the members and provided us with a massive increase on competition entries and even more importantly a very healthy upturn on the bar takings.
The steward and stewardess and their staff have provided the members with a friendly professional service second to none, with plenty of variations of lovely hot food and good ales making it a pleasure to be in the lounge or bar. The clubhouse and restaurant have been used for function hire and we've received glowing recommendations from all our guests. We also have a very good darts team which keeps the bar ticking over quite well on darts nights. The introduction of food theme evenings was a firm favourite with the members and turned out to be another financial success. All the Saturday night shows, functions and gentlemen's evenings have been a roaring success and have had a tremendous financial impact on the success of the clubhouse finances.
"So what are the key points to what we've actually done to be so successful "
- We've listened to our members and taken on board what they really want out of Pontardawe Golf Club and worked hard to implement their wishes.
- Improved the course and it's playability which is what all golf club members want.
- Improved our clubhouse facilities and service to our members and guests.
- We ensured the membership numbers are at a manageable level for our members playing the course, but more importantly the membership levels are right for the finances, we've had just under 50 new members this year. There isn't another club in the South Wales Area that has increased their membership levels by that number. That confirms we've got the balance spot on and people really want to join Pontardawe Golf Club, even in the the tough current financial climate.
- We've kept a good tight rein on the finances and invested wisely, without any detriment to the course, clubhouse or members, ensuring the fees remain as low as possible, taking into consideration the pristine course and clubhouse facilities we provide.
- All in all what we've actually done is made the right decisions at the right times to provide our members with a full value for money course and clubhouse package.
The only way I can put Pontardawe Golf Club into perspective is that when speaking to a member who joined over a year ago from another local club, he said to me "Your right" I looked at him a bit bemused and said " What do you mean ?" He replied "Can you recall what you said to me when I joined the club and first met you ?" with that I remembered what I'd said to him. "It's not all about hitting the ball"
What I meant by that statement was Pontardawe Golf Club provides the whole package, an outstanding golf course, with a superb clubhouse and facilities with great friendly members, at a fair cost, its not all about the actual playing of the game of golf . He summed it up in a nutshell by telling me,
" It was the best decision I've ever made to join Pontardawe Golf Club, I love it here"