Open letter to the Traralgon Golf Club
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To Traralgon Golf Club Board,
I am writing today on behalf of a section of your membership in response to the recent communication that competition fees will increase by $2 of Jan 1st.
Firstly I’d like to address the responses my fellow members have received so far. There seems to be a misunderstanding from the chairman that we are only thinking about our own pockets and not the long term viability of the club. This could not be further from the truth. If you were to class our demographic, we would represent the ‘younger’ section of the members so having a flourishing club in 10,15,20 years’ time logically appeals to and affects us more than most. Assuming that we are accepting of a club that is ‘losing money each year’ is an uneducated view and frankly insulting.
This leads me to my first point. To ensure the club has a long term future there needs to be a business plan that caters for a wide range of factors, including finance. If such a plan exists than I would like to know:
-How many more future increases to members (membership increase, fee increase) are scheduled for the next 3-5 years?
-What is being done to prevent members cost continually increasing outside standard CPI increases?
-What is the club doing to retain its members against joining/playing comps at rival local clubs?
-Is this additional comp fee revenue going to assist generating income via other sources?
-What other revenue sources have been created/increased over the past 3 years?
Is there an opportunity to utilise some under used areas of our course to increase revenue? I’ve previously proposed a ‘pitch & putt’ course be made from the current practise facility. This could attract social, junior or beginner golfers as it would be less intimidating than playing the full course. Nathan has indicated it would take very little to set this up and maintain so there would be no additional costs other than perhaps marketing. The area could support 4-6 holes and at say $5 per round be very attractive to non-members. The members would lose the dedicated practise area (how many use it now anyway?) however could still use the setup to refine their short game which honestly, is the only current use of the facility anyway.
What about the locker rooms? What current usage do they have at the moment? I’ve never seen any more than 1 other person in there at any time and that was in the rest rooms. Could we look to follow some of the metro courses and create an indoor mini golf course? There would be some demolition/setup costs however I’m sure you could lend on members to assist with the design and construction to keep costs down. I personally would be more than willing to lead up such a project. Parky’s Putt Putt I believe is the only other in town and only open during limited times so there seems to be a real opportunity here. They charge $10-12 for a round and $40 for a family. This could become a substantial income source that is independent of the current membership.
Both suggestions above have the obvious pro of creating income from a different source as well as the long term benefit of turning those visitors into members, especially the juniors. Run some school programs to help market the new facilities. You could even tailor the social membership to include these facilities at a lower cost. Perhaps this may even have a flow on effect to our members draw and other social functions.
Whilst I love playing golf, it is absolutely a discretionary expense. The standard cost of living for a young family is ever increasing so if I need to choose between my family/future and golf I will either play elsewhere or give up entirely. The membership section I represent are in similar positions so losing just 15 of our full paying memberships would 100% negate the additional revenue from your comp fee increase. The other option is we don’t play as many Traralgon comps (we don’t play at all or look for value in other clubs competitions). You then decrease your weekly fee intake and the associated (drinks, food) income that goes with it. Not a very sustainable plan in my opinion.
This leads me to my second point being the communication around the increase and the ‘value’ you are providing for our competition fee. A lot of the anger towards this is the perception that we, the regular playing members, are being taken for granted. You are offering the same ‘product’ that you did 2 years ago for an extra $208 per year. None of the prizes have changed and if anything the increased fields have meant the chances of winning the only decent prize ($40 grade voucher) have decreased. At odds of $2.85/1 you would want your ‘horse’ to be a better chance than 1 in 35 of winning.
Why not take this opportunity to revamp the Sat & Tue comps? Trail a month with no birdie &/or decreased DTL balls (I’d love to know how many are not collected anyway) and introduce a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place prize per grade. What about rounding the increase up to $15 and having a running jackpot each month where the top scorer in each grade receives an equal share of the extra $1 revenue. These are just two possible ideas from me so surely with the experience and resources at board and sub-committee level it wouldn’t be hard to come up with a revamp. You would at least show that you are trying to give something back and not have this come across as a ‘lazy cash grab’ from the section of the membership that most support the club.
Currently you have 3-4 (3%) players per week getting a profit/equal return from their investment. My first suggestion above increases those odds to 12-16 (12%). The club still gets its intended increase in revenue however the competition players feel they are getting something more for their money, a true win/win situation.
This is not a direct attack on the board so please do not take this personally. This is your members exercising their right to question decisions and provide feedback to the board that applied for or accepted nominations to their current roles.
A lot of us are either contributing or have contribution significant time into this club so I am expecting a response better than ‘what about this for an idea, come to a board meeting and call a special general meeting’ as per a previous communication.
To finish, the biggest question that has been noted over the past 2 weeks is actually from our partners/friends/wife’s.
‘I don’t see why you have to pay every week, you already pay your membership?’
With each fee increase it’s getting harder and harder to answer that question…
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