Alistair Dunsmuir: What we learnt about golf club management in January
Here’s the top three things we learnt about golf club management in the last month:
3. Despite evidence of an improvement in the economy, many golf clubs are still in serious trouble.
In fact one 24-hour period in January was probably the worst since the downturn began – Garnant Golf Club in Wales went into liquidation, Belmont Golf Club in Herefordshire announced it is to close down and Doonbeg Golf Club in Ireland had receivers appointed to it. To complete the UK outlook, those announcements came just a few days after Torphin Hill Golf Club in Scotland closed.
2. But that doesn’t mean things generally are not on the up.
One of the strongest barometers of the state of the UK golf club market is the annual BTME exhibition in Harrogate, which showcases new products to the industry, particularly those that are used to maintain golf courses.
One exhibitor said: “This has been the best show for many years in terms of numbers and quality of visitors. On the Wednesday, for four hours, we just didn’t stop. It was literally customer after customer.”
1. UK golf clubs are split down the middle over the VAT ruling.
These days there are almost as many proprietary golf clubs in the UK as there are private members’, and it seems your views on the EU’s recent VAT ruling, that green fees at private members’ golf clubs should be exempt from VAT, which could lead to the UK government paying those clubs up to £500 million in a rebate, depends on which one you are an employee or member of.
Private members’ clubs have welcomed the announcement, with many saying it is just what is needed to ensure they will survive. Proprietary clubs view it as distortion and a threat – with many demanding that the rebate is given back to golfers.
It’s a divide that is set to dominate 2014.