We hope this letter finds you safe and well during these unprecedented times.
Although this letter is intended to provide you with an update of our current position, please appreciate that we are continually receiving updates from Public Health England and golf’s ruling bodies, so the content we are sharing here may already have been revised before it reaches you.
We trust that you are enjoying a return to golf; time seems to have flown since we re-opened on 13th May to a huge collective sigh of relief after some 50 days of closure. From the looks on members’ faces, it was quite obvious that many were hugely relieved to be allowed out on the fairways once again. It may seem like a distant memory now, but the lockdown had followed one of our longest wettest winters in memory, so these are certainly proving to be trying times, but we are more fortunate than most and as one of the first sports to return, also the envy of many.
Whilst we are grateful to be trading again, many members have commented how much they look forward to the time when we can return to our full range of services, and enjoy either a bite to eat or a leisurely drink with friends before or after a round. Let us hope that we receive the green light for this very soon although we understand that it may take a little time for customers to re-gain confidence to return, so our clubhouse trading hours and menu’s will initially be trimmed down a little.
Moving forward, we remain confident that we will survive this crisis but it won’t be without a significant impact on the business. Ours, like many others will not emerge unscathed and only time will tell what the future holds. With regards to our future development plans that up until recently we kept you abreast of in the monthly Golf Managers report, it is far too soon to say what impact if any these recent events will have on the Bromsgrove District Plan review so we are unable to update you at this moment in time.
In terms of membership, we hope that we have helped by doing what we felt was the “right thing” in suspending All-Inclusive membership payments during the time of closure. This was an extremely difficult decision for us to make at the time with many of our costs still ongoing, and even though many clubs decided against this option we believed it would be in the best interest of our members and feedback is that it has been widely appreciated. What is quite apparent at the moment is that golf, which for many years has seen little or no growth is now seeing a much-welcome boom. Records indicate that the industry is seeing a huge upturn in memberships and participation with everyone keen to get outdoors. Let’s hope it lasts, and thank goodness when we re-opened that the weather was kind and coincided with the hottest May on record.
Not only are we delighted to be trading again but also thankful for the responsibility shown by our members who initially had to adapt and embrace a new style of golf. The attitude of our members and visitors has been excellent and we continue to receive many encouraging messages of support and compliments on the course. Everyone has been very considerate and embraced the challenges we are facing. We are also extremely grateful to those members whose subscription renewals that have already been sent out, have been able to pay their fees by a single premium this year rather than by direct debit, and humbled by members who still offered to pay through the time of closure. We hugely appreciate the support and commitment that has been shown.
It is important that we first give a mention to the volunteers that helped us keep on top of the course during lockdown. Their assistance in keeping key areas of the course maintained has been invaluable in allowing us to restart the business at a moment’s notice and to those who volunteered their time, we are extremely grateful. Mark Cunningham (Head Green keeper) has been unbelievable in his tireless pursuit of keeping the course in the best possible condition in the circumstances. We are indebted for his remarkable efforts, loyalty and commitment and on behalf of all at BGC, wholeheartedly thank Mark for this.
Part of the arrangements that we had to conform to before allowing staff back on site during lockdown was that all bunkers had to be taken out of maintenance, and as you have probably noticed we now face a mammoth task of bringing them back into play. This will be a high priority as we welcome staff back from being furloughed in a measured and controlled way. A number of non-essential bunkers may be decommissioned for the foreseeable future as we focus on key maintenance issues, it is very much a season for re-adjusting our expectations.
We regret to inform that probably the only disappointing result of our return to play has been the reports of a high number of unrepaired pitch-marks on the greens which were particularly noticeable during the initial period when the course was reserved exclusively for members. Whilst we understand that this was most likely a result of the initial elation of returning to play, may we please remind members of the benefits that all enjoy from this bit of course care. Whilst mentioning holes and greens, a massive thanks to Barrie Claridge for helping us in procuring the new devices fitted to the flag pins to retrieve the balls from the hole.
For information, the Academy short course is now available for both Members and Academy Members to use (with modified holes) and the putting green will open very soon.
Club System V1 app
It is great to see so many of you downloading and using the V1 app from Club Systems. You can register and download from the members area of our website. www.bromsgrovegolfcentre.com The app includes many awesome features, including a link to the BRS tee booking system and “Real Time” updates so when we load our greenkeepers with their links they can update course information on the fly from the course. It’s been encouraging to see so many of you paying using the Howdoipayreference on your renewal, this is a really neat piece of technology that pays straight into our bank and also reconciles your renewal account at the same time. The same app also allows you to see all your member card transactions at the centre and top up from the comfort of your own home. The print handicap certificates will be a welcome feature also.
New tills and Club Systems Software
Thank you for your patience as we continue to work on introducing new till systems and software. What was always going to be a fraught and challenging procedure has been massively compounded by the lockdown. The Club Systems team were here on site working on our installation when we received the notice to close. So, basically, we were left with a conference room that looked like PC World at the end of a Black Friday sale, bits of PC’s everywhere. When the call came to re-open, we fully expected to utilise our old software system and tills initially and export over to Club gradually. Unfortunately, our support was expiring, and they wanted a significant payment up front, so we instigated plan B and converted our bar tills to work as reception tills just for the short term. Members card balances were imported, and we have managed to hijack all our previous membership notes from the old system and import into Club Systems, so we have a modicum of continuity. There have been reports of major issues across the BRS tee booking network as there has been a massive demand for clubs installing tee booking software to aid contact tracing etc. We continue to make tweaks to our systems as we amend and introduce new categories. Therefore, if you experience any problems please do not hesitate to contact us. Please remember to check out our website for regular updates.
As part of a phased return to play, England Golf advised that up to four golfers from four separate households can play together in one single group which took effect from the beginning of June, and in addition, Clubs may choose to run competitions provided social distancing and safety regulations can be strictly observed at all times.
After much consideration, your Committee has taken the decision to cancel the Trophy and Major Trophy competitions until further notice due to ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 outbreak. As these competitions attract a large entry field, concentrated over a relatively short time scale, the concern is the running of these competitions may result in groups congregating either before, during or after the round, which may contravene the Government guidelines of gatherings of more than 6 persons which are not permitted.
In relation to monthly medal and stableford qualifying competitions the Club and Centre are investigating ways in which some of these competitions could be run. The use of the PSI would not be practicable as it would need to be sanitised after each user. The investigations therefore are looking at alternative ways of entering these competitions including the paying of the entry fee online, a process which would normally be done through the PSI. Another issue that needs to be addressed is the returning of scores, which again would normally be done by entering into the PSI, and we are looking at ways that this may be done through an app, which would eliminate a source of virus transmission, ie the scorecard.
If these investigations and testing prove to be successful then entry to the qualifying competitions would only be possible online, which of course means that we must ensure that members have the ‘Howdidido’ App set up and ready to go on their phone or computer. To assist members with this we are looking at the possibility of compiling a video on the website leading members through the set-up process. Your Committee believes this is the way we can move forward and run some competitions during the remainder of 2020, in a way that ensures players are kept safe.
Captains Away Day
Due to the restrictions posed by COVID-19 outbreak and the likelihood that the bar and restaurant at Kings Norton Golf Club would be closed, your Captains have taken the decision to postpone the Away Day until 2021.
World Handicap System
The new World Handicap System (WHS) will come into operation on 1 November 2020.
The current CONGU Unified Handicapping System will be replaced by WHS which will unify six different handicapping structures currently in place throughout the world. With one single system in place golfers will be able to obtain and maintain a handicap index; use their handicap index on any golf course around the world; and compete or play a casual round with anyone else on a fair and equal basis.
The initial handicap index will be calculated by taking the average of the lowest 8 of the most recent 20 score differentials, rounded to the nearest tenth, over the last 2 years. If due in part to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 you will not have the full 20 scores at transition you will have a handicap index allocated by the same process as an initial handicap would be allocated and developed. Moving forward you will be able to submit both social and competitive scores to build up a fully developed handicap record
While Covid-19 remains a live threat in our communities, we would ask everyone involved in the game to act responsibly, show respect, and protect the wellbeing of golfers, staff and volunteers.
We hope this update has given you an insight into the continued work during and post lockdown here at BGC to enable our members and guests to enjoy and experience golf safely during these challenging times.