January 2021 Newsletter
Happy New Year to all members of Horsforth Golf Club.
Well this isn’t the newsletter I had been hoping to write at the start of a new year, but we have to look forwards and with hope of vaccines, sunshine, golf and socialising. One blessing may be that most of our family of golfers have so far escaped too much personal loss and sadness through the Pandemic. My sympathies to all who have suffered. Thank you to all those who have continued to work on behalf of the club, to progress projects, administration, finances and course management in anticipation of better times. Your support and dedication is really appreciated.
Let’s be honest, along with almost every other club around Yorkshire, with the amount of snow and rain we have had, the course is under severe pressure. Surface water is running off many fairways, including a new stream down the 1st and across the bottom of the 2nd and 18th.
There is flooding in places not seen before. However, amazingly the churned up muddy areas have recovered with the lack of traffic in lock down, and if we can get some air and sun to it, the course will repair and be ready when we come out of this.
A walk around other local clubs suggests that Horsforth is coping better, with fewer waterlogged areas and surface water, which bodes well.
The recent snow provided some spectacular views which only a few members got to see, so here are some examples.
There were a number of members dragged out by their kids to go sledging on the steeper hills like the 10th and a couple of snowmen here and there decorating the fairways. It is helpful if walkers keep off the greens as the compacted ice can cause damage.
There were a large number of broken bows brought down by the weight of snow all over the course.
The Greens staff have been clearing blocked ditches and undertaking maintenance and repair of machinery, so much so that we have almost completed all the annual servicing requirements and its only January!
We have also offered our sharpening services to other clubs in the area to try to get some money in.
A full greens report for the coming season will be distributed to members in due course.
We were getting close to finishing the 19th at the end of the year, and it is now completed with the wall hangings back in place. It is a really smart area, bright, modern and welcoming for members to relax.
Many thanks to Simon Hurd for loaning us some great golf memorabilia to adorn the walls.
There has been a lot of discussion about the options for this area and plans have been submitted and acknowledged by the planning department. It is funded by the brewery loan.
Once we have Building Regulations approval, we can plan in the work to build a members’ area accessible through the 19th and from the side by the pro-shop and off the main patio.
It will be a wooden construction reserved for members to use when the main patio is in use for external events, or just for a pint outside the 19th on balmy summer evenings.
We should be able to get it ready for the new season.
The temporary fix to the clubhouse roof has held up through this rain and snow which is good news, although a week of dry weather is needed before the full repair can be started.
With the club closed, we are working to stem the losses and protect the cash balance for the second half of the year. We have been able to secure a couple of grants from the Government which is a great help. Thanks to the members who have written in about the possible sources of benefits – we are on it.
All the catering and bar staff remain on furlough, and the greens staff are working 50% of the time whilst we can claim 80 % back, so the net cost is better for all parties.
With the loss of sales, green fees and the rebate we gave to members last year, we are looking at a year-end loss of around £20k, which is acceptable if disappointing.
Council and the sub committees in Business Development and Finance have been reviewing the subs for next year, and are bringing forward plans to publish in March. There are many variables to consider so we are delaying a decision as long as we can to get the best information to hand.
We understand the need to consider the loss of playing time and the demands of maintaining the club finances, recognising that for some members it has been a difficult year.
Last year some 80 members paid in full on receipt of their invoice, which was a great boost to our cash position before the new year started, and if repeated this year could prevent us ending the year in a negative position.
November and December were very busy, although it has been a slow start to the new year due to the state of the ground, we are now up to 65% of the expected amount. As soon as they can get back on, we should be seeing the contouring take place pre-season. The completion of the 18thand associated drainage is still dependent on the ground being firm enough for the heavy machinery. We did ask if it could be done with smaller gear, but the contractors are confident they will get it done in a week or so once the ground is firm enough.
The process we are following has been covered under separate communications so I won’t do it again here. Suffice to say that voting forms have now gone out, with the option to ask questions, and the event on the 17th February will posted as a video for members to view.
These are now scheduled for March, and a project team is going to remove the old metal boxes next month. The removal will give us the opportunity of looking for the source of the bad smell in the locker and committee room, which has been evident some say for over 40 years. Let’s hope we can get to the bottom of it this time so to speak!
As announced earlier, Jonathan Pearson will take over from Simon in the first quarter of the year. It is great that he has already been in the office getting to know some of the systems and ways of working.
He is frighteningly enthusiastic, and I am sure will be a great asset to the club. Simon is staying on to give a good handover and induction over the coming weeks.
I hope you are all keeping safe and well, and as occupied as you can be. Let’s all look forward to longer days, dry fairways and slick greens.
David Coverdale, President, Horsforth Golf Club
P.S. Final Note
Members do enjoy getting out for a knock with their mates over winter, but experience tells us that golf in Northern England is a 9 month activity from March to November, and any opportunities to play in December, January and February when the weather and climate allow, are a bit of a bonus. I have a suspicion and hope we will be playing in some form by March!