Chairman's Blog - April 2013
Welcome to this, the third Chairman’s Blog of 2013. As I write this I am looking at my thermometer and the reading is 2.2 deg C, so, like us, I am sure the golf course will respond very favourably to some warm and sunny conditions whenever that may be!
However, the snow and extreme cold have severely held back early-season growth everywhere – the golf course being no exception, and obviously we are all concerned about the rate of recovery of the course coming out of this extreme winter. However, congratulations to Gareth and the greens staff for getting us playing again so soon, and for their hard work in keeping us on the proper greens and for their playability, even if they are not as good-looking as we would have hoped for by this time of year. Unfortunately, in the battle of man versus mother nature, she continues to hold the upper hand!
The snow and frost have disrupted the early season programme of competitions, with early casualties including the traditional season-opener of Captain versus Vice Captain, which has now been rearranged for Sunday 27th October, and the inaugural Stoke Rochford Golden Jubilee Competition – to celebrate 50 years of the management of the course by the members, now rearranged for Monday 27th May. One benefit of the latter is that we had a relatively small field for this member-and-guest competition, and it would be really good to see a full field when the competition is finally played. By then, hopefully, the course will also be in much better order. So please make a note of these dates in your new club diaries!
The first presentation night of the new season was held in the clubhouse on Friday 5th April and it was good to see so many members and guests present. For those members who are perhaps new to the club, a presentation evening is held on the first Friday of every month from April through to December, when, in addition to the presentation of prizes to the month’s prizewinners, there is also a raffle, a member’s draw for those present (the £100 prize was unclaimed this month!) and some form of entertainment – this month it was a quiz organized by Peter Gill, your Captain, in addition to his speech. On other occasions it may only be his speech!
On a more serious note, those of you who attended the evening will have heard Peter announce publicly that he had developed an unexpected and potentially serious health issue which needed to be addressed sooner rather than later, so he would be restricted in his ability to play golf for a number of months. He would, however, continue his role as Captain of the golf club as soon as and whenever he was able, but in his absence, his Vice Captain, Gary Skerritt, would stand in and take over the role. On your behalf I am sure you will join me in wishing Peter a full and speedy recovery.
Management Meeting – April
On Tuesday 2nd of April we had a management meeting, the relevant points from which are summarized below :
The meeting commenced with the reading of a letter I received from Mandy and Phil Doubleday, announcing that they would be leaving the Club, giving us 6 weeks notice of their departure. As this was unexpected and the House Chairman was not present at the meeting, the process for finding their replacement was not debated and would be pursued by the House Chairman and the finance committee at the earliest possible opportunity.
Greens Chairman – (Jeff Purdy)
The Greens Chairman reported that the course spring maintenance programme had continued when possible, with all the meadow areas being scarified with chain harrows and waste materials collected to keep soil fertility low.
The greens had been fertilised and normal spring maintenance continued. However the ground temperatures were currently lower than those experienced in January which would, unfortunately, set back growth. The course manager felt that there would be no long-term effects, but the cold snap had certainly delayed the recovery programme.
The tree surgeon’s work had been undertaken and a site survey had looked at the future work required to ensure that it was properly planned and programmed. Some work was still on-going, but a number of the issues raised by members had been addressed.
The trees on the 14th had still not been removed, as a result of the potential damage to the course during the wet and cold weather, but the Estate still had the work in hand. .
The new path on the 9th hole had been slightly altered, and the old path down the hill had been lifted and relayed. In addition, the path from the bridge up towards the 9th fairway had been relayed with turf to move it away from the fairway.
An early spring newsletter would be issued shortly for members’ information, and, as in previous years, An open evening’s “Walk and Talk” would be arranged shortly for those members who were interested in getting a better understanding of the issues facing the Greens staff.
The Sports Turf Research Institute’s annual inspection would now take place on 5th May 2013.
New bunker rake stands had been manufactured and would be in place for the start of the season. These had been made by John Lemmon to whom goes our thanks.
A Greens’ Committee meeting was held on Wednesday 13th March at 7:00 at which items agreed or raised for discussion with management were;
It was agreed that the damaged areas of surrounds would be white-lined to give members the opportunity to take a drop if they wished.
There was an in-depth discussion about the quality of the hard landscaping work carried out by the Greens staff at the club; it was acceptable, but lacked finesse and final finish. It was therefore agreed that, given the financial constraints placed upon the greens budget, and there being no “fat or surplus” with which to fund any additional work, an approach would be made to the Management Committee to see if there was any way that additional funding could be made available to carry out some or all of the identified areas including the replacement of new boarding the back of the 8th Green with sleepers, the replacement of the new fence and chain on the patio with a more professional looking system, the purchase of a number of slabs to improve the area in front of the half way house, and the purchase of new bells for the 6th and 18th holes, to replace the home made and damaged ones in these locations.
The Chairman told the meeting that the request for additional funds would be taken back to the finance Committee, but as spending was already constrained, and considering how difficult finances were at present, he was not optimistic for this financial year.
The question of a new notice board on the approach to the course, to contain all the playing notices which were presently attached to various golf club shafts, was again raised, and the Greens’ Chairman explained that he had been looking at metal ones, but they were neither as aesthetic or affordable as wooden ones. The Chairman asked if there was any member in the club who might possibly be able to manufacture one, and the Green’s Chairman said he would look into it.
House Chairman (Mrs June Miller)
Since the last meeting, our new Captain’s name had been added to the Captains’ Board in the Clubhouse.
With regard to the investigation into low-energy lighting, further work has been undertaken with our electrical contractor to identify the most cost-effective use of the Club’s funds in reducing our overall electrical usage. With the Vice-Captain, Garry Skerritt joining the committee, he has taken over the lead role in taking this project forward, although the House Chairman would remain involved in the discussions. Sample lighting was due to be delivered to the Club in the next week or so, which would enable the Committee to see some of the suggested solutions.
During the Course closure due to the snow, Gareth and the Green staff treated the wooden patio furniture prior to the start of the season. This has now been completed and they have given the furniture two coats of teak oil, which will prepare it for the summer, so thanks to Gareth and his staff.
The Captain and his son had agreed to run a Race Night on Friday 19th April but had suggested that, on this occasion, any profit on the evening should go initially towards the current shortfall on the defibrillator, with any additional surplus coming back to the Social Fund. This was agreed by management, who thanked Peter for his offer.
We continue to chase MRH, the Management Company responsible for the fence between the back of the Clubhouse and the BP garage forecourt, to carry out repairs to the damaged fence. After a delay, they have responded by sending a team to survey the site, and we continue to push them to complete the work without further delay.
A member had asked about the difference in costs between the current paper towel driers and purchasing an electric air blade hand drier. Gary Skerritt reported that he had obtained costs for the electric hand dryers, and from the annual costs that he had been given for paper towels, it would seem that there could be a significant saving. It was agreed that a full costing exercise would be undertaken, including the necessary electrical installation work and the results reported back to the next meeting.
The Captain asked about the dark stains on the panel in front of the bar. It was explained that these were damp patches caused by the cooler before it had been moved, but that they required a specialist painting technique to renovate them.
Treasurer (Roger Rawson)
The Treasurer reported that he was now receiving payments for 2013 subscriptions at a satisfactory rate,
Following on from the membership offers that had been run at the end of 2012, and into early 2013, we had enrolled 28 new members and a number were still in the pipeline. To date we had been notified of 12 current members who would not be renewing their membership for the coming year.
Against the budget, In February we had seen an increase in takings, with bar, subscriptions and sundry income all up, but offset by a small reduction in green fees and the gaming machine. However, due to the adverse weather conditions we had just experienced, the overall takings for March would be down on last year, bringing the year-to-date figures back in line.
A finance meeting had been held on Tuesday 26th March, to which Malcolm Edwards had been invited, and who was subsequently seconded to that sub-committee, along with Gareth Sharp.
The Club had received notice of a price increase from Greene King from 1st April 2013, and the recommendation from the Finance Committee was that the bar prices would be increased by £0.20 per pint, and soft drinks by £0.10, immediately after the Captain’s April Presentation night. Our bar prices were still very competitive with the average public house prices, and after discussion, this was agreed.
The Club was coming to the end of the third year of our three year-agreement with Greene King, but it was the Treasurer’s intention to see what terms other Breweries were offering, and then have a meeting with our present suppliers and see if we could obtain better prices, discounts or rebates from them.
Handicap & Competitions (Chairman - Steve Cullington)
The Handicap and Competition Chairman reported that due to difficulties with the weather it had been necessary to cancel three competitions, including the Stoke Rochford Golden Jubilee Event, but it was hoped to play this on Spring Bank Holiday Monday 27th May.
Due to concerns expressed by several members, the criteria for qualifying competitions would be looked into at the next meeting of Handicap and Competition Committee.
The Club had received information on The Volvo National Challenge, which is supporting “Help For Heroes” and as it needed to be a mixed event, the Competitions Chairman was seeking agreement to play it in conjunction with either the MDJ Salver, on Saturday 25th May ,or the Pheasant Cup on Sunday 26th May. After a short discussion it was decided to play it on 26th as there was an “A” and “B” team match on the 25th. It was also agreed that Marshall Volvo from Grantham could advertise around the course and have one complimentary four-ball to use at a later date, and that a £1 levy be collected from each competitor as a donation to “Help For Heroes”.
All the engraving has now been completed on the trophies so that they now include last year’s winners.
The Competitions Chairman and Andy Watson had attended a South Lincs. Golf League meeting, and the only item of note that had come out of it that had any significances for Stoke Rochford members, was that under no circumstances would mobile phones be allowed on the course during league team matches.
So far, a replacement for Social Team Organiser has yet to be found, but Past Captain Roger Smith agreed to step into the breach until one could be appointed.
Due to the adverse weather conditions which had kept members away from the course over the past few weeks, it had been agreed that the cut-off dates for all the club knock out competitions would be extended until Sunday 7th April.
Unfortunately the club had been notified by the winner of last year’s Spring Open, that during a house move, he had lost the Elms Cup, with which he had been presented for winning the event. After many emails, texts and phone calls he has agreed that he is responsible for replacing the Trophy to a value of £160. It was agreed that The Treasurer and the Competitions Chairman would liaise with him, and try and agree on a suitable replacement. Because the loss of the Elms Cup had highlighted a flaw in our system, it was agreed that the Club would create a pictorial inventory of all our trophies.
Club Marketing Group (Chairman – Graham Miller)
The Chairman of the Marketing Group reported that as a result of other commitments, Dorne Werner had tendered her resignation as a member of the Marketing Group with immediate effect. As a result, the group now had no representation from the Ladies Section, so a new nominee would be warmly welcomed! Dorne has been a good contributor to the group and its predecessors over a number of years, and the Committee formally recorded their thanks to her for her efforts on behalf of the Club.
The last 4 weeks had seen some significant advertising activity. During the first week in March a 93-house leaflet drop had been completed at David Wilson’s Newton Grange, Colsterworth development, offering a complimentary 2-ball to every household, to be taken by the end of May. Despite the weather, the Club had already received a couple of enquiries, and we will continue to monitor the take-up.
At the beginning of March we targeted Melton Mowbray with a half-page “advertorial” in the Melton Times on 7th March, followed up in successive weeks with two further advertisements. Unfortunately the bad weather has probably blunted the effectiveness of the approach, but we remain hopeful of attracting some new members from this area
The Stamford based magazine “Active” ran their “get into golf” supplement in March, and SRGC got a fair mention in a number of areas, including the promotion of our £50 “taster” membership offer.
The advertisement for Grantham Station information board is scheduled to go on display on April 18th.
Following the agreement of the Finance Committee, the group had produced a month-by-month matrix of fees for 2013 showing the fee for each category of member joining during any month up to December. Unlike last year, where it was calculated on a straight pro-rata basis, this year the matrix had been weighted in favour of the early summer months (i.e. a smaller reduction in the first part of the season, with bigger reductions from September through to December). This has now been issued to the Professional and to Mandy & Phil, which would enable them to give an instant quote to any membership enquiry.
A new poster had been designed and displayed in the Clubhouse showing the 2013 membership fees and summarising the benefits of being a member.
Following the success of the “Christmas Cracker” 6 x green fee promotion for £99, it was agreed that we would run a similar offer for the spring – a “Spring Sensation” – at a similar cost. Although this would give visitors the same price as the 2-fore-1 promotion, it also meant that the buyer would have to play 6 rounds at the Club, rather than spreading his / her business across a number of clubs.
At the last meeting of the group, we addressed the options for tee sponsorship. A set of costings had been prepared, and Steve Greenfield is now pricing this to develop a suitable sponsorship offer.
At the last meeting we had recognised a need for better information for members joining the Club for the first time, particularly since the “welcome interview” had been dropped. A “New Members’ Handbook” had now been produced, some draft copies of which were available for members of management to consider. Feedback had already been received from a few key members, which had been incorporated into the printed version. It would be the intention to give a copy to every new member joining, and, retrospectively, to those who had joined since November.
We have been able to source some new help on the social networking side to develop the Club’s presence on Facebook, and Twitter. This would be followed up, and a report would be presented to the next management meeting.
Once again congratulations on getting this far! However, to finish with there are just one or two final things to mention.
A couple of dates for the diary. On Friday 19th April we will have another race night, so please come along and support this event - you can even win money if you are lucky! It’s a very enjoyable event, and the profit from the night will make up the shortfall in the funds already raised for the defibrillator.
The next Captain’s presentation night will be on Friday 3rd May, and once again it would be great to see the Clubhouse full.
The re-arranged Golden Jubilee Trophy will be held on Monday 27th May – the format is “member and guest” better-ball, so it’s a great opportunity to show the Club off to your friends by inviting them to play with you in this new competition. The entry cost includes a buffet, it will be a shotgun start again, and, hopefully, this time we will have finally got rid of the snow!
The “Social” Saturday team, and the Thursday “C” Team are both looking for players – both theses teams cater for players of all abilities, so if you would like to play competitively against other Clubs in the area, then it’s a great way to join your colleagues and represent the Club. The list for team members is posted in the Gentlemen’s changing rooms and there is plenty of room for volunteers .
Finally, we always welcome publicity in the local press for the Club and its players, and through Chris Jones, our Press Officer, we have a ready-made channel to all the local papers and magazines in the area. So for those who manage our teams, or any other member who has a newsworthy event that they would like to publicise, then Chris’s email address is email@example.com . Let’s see if we can get Stoke Rochford up there in the headlines, and hopefully our results for the coming season will keep us there!
By the time you read this I hope the weather will be better, the sun will be out, spring will finally be here, the course will be growing again, and that your golf will be taking shape for the coming season. I wish you good golfing until the next blog!
Chairman, Stoke Rochford Golf Club
Chairman’s Blog. March 2013
Welcome to the 2nd “Chairman’s Blog” of 2013 – an early springtime edition, but looking at the snow on the ground (yet again!) it certainly feels more like another “midwinter” version ! Never mind, they keep reminding us that “Spring is just around the corner” but it would be nice to see a somewhat straighter road ahead into the spring and summer.
Nevertheless, an early indication of springtime came on Sunday March 3rd with the Captain’s Drive-In, a very well supported competition and social event to start Peter Gill’s and Marion Carvath’s year of Captaincy. Two very successful and creditable drives off the first ( shame on those of you who put some of the stickers on the chart very close to the tee!) certainly bodes well for their term of office.
Despite some continuing concerns about the rate of recovery of the course after the winter’s work, the scoring on the day – 95 points (23-under!) by Simon Mulvey, Paul Verner, Brian Talbot and Simon Yelland, and 89 points by the father-and-son combinations of Andy & Rory Croft, and Richard and Matt Allan suggests that we might be moving in the right direction. All we need now is a bit of warmth to promote some growth on those areas worst affected and the course recovery should be well under way again.
Some good news is that we have been able to attract 26 new members so far since the new financial year, and we continue to receive an encouraging number of enquiries regarding membership. To our new members a very warm welcome, and to our existing members a hope that we will do all that we can to integrate our newcomers into the life of the Club and to help them settle in and enjoy all the benefits of being a member of Stoke Rochford.
On the Management side, since the AGM there have been two management meetings, on February 22nd and March 5th, the relevant points from which I have summarised below :
At the first meeting after the AGM we appoint the committee members to the various standing sub-committees. For 2013 the sub-committee members are as follows :
Finance Committee : Myself as Chairman, Graham Miller (Vice Chairman), Roger Rawson (Treasurer ), Peter Mills (Trustee), and Arthur Wheeler ( Secretary ).
Greens Committee : Jeff Purdy ( Chairman ), Andy Watson, Steve Cullington, Gareth Sharp, and Mrs Avis Griffin
Handicap and Competition Committee : Steve Cullington( Chairman ), Peter Mills, Steve Greenfield, Keith Helstrip, and Simon Glencross
House Committee : Mrs June Miller ( Chairman ), Mrs Marion Carvath (Lady Captain), Mrs Carol Hamilton, Roger Smith, and Garry Skerritt (Vice Captain )
No Junior Organiser as yet been appointed, but in the interim James Footitt has agreed to continue in the role until the position is filled.
At the March 5th Meeting, it was agreed that, in addition to the standing members of the Finance Committee, both Gareth Sharp and Malcolm Edwards would be seconded to the Committee to add their professional expertise to the group.
The Various Committee Chairman presented their reports, the main points of interest being :
Greens’ Chairman – Jeff Purdy
Following the comment in the last blog regarding the removal of the fir trees to the right hand side of the 14th fairway, the estate has been contacted again but so far no action has been taken to date.
The new bunkers on the 4th have had the turf laid which is knitting in well, and bunker lining and turf base layers are now in place. It is hoped that they will be brought into play during the Easter weekend. The bunkers on the 3rd have been altered to address members concerns, and all the bunkers on the course have been topped up over the past few weeks
The silver birch trees have been removed from the right of the 4th hole in line with the suggestion from the course architect to facilitate a reshaping of the fairway in recognition of the installation of the new bunkers.
The course spring maintenance programme has now started with all fairways being solid tined. Greens have been solid tined using the 12mm tines and will be fertilised this week. There will also be more frequent mowing and rolling taking place on the greens, weather permitting. Areas such as walkways will be attended to next.
Gareth would normally be looking to apply a heavy top soil dressing in early March, However he would like to reseed at the same time and the current soil temperatures are too low to guarantee germination. It is the intention to overseed the surrounds of those greens where the bare patches are, and this will be done as a matter of priority when the growing conditions are right. If the temperatures do not rise quickly then he will top dress before the Easter weekend as a matter of course.
The tree surgeon work will commence within the next week.
We will be placing white tees out into selected positions too be used during the match v Newark and the A v B and Capt v Vice Capt practise games. These will not be used yet for general play or any of the upcoming competitions.
An early spring newsletter will be issued shortly for members’ information.
House Chairman – Mrs. June Miller
As a result of a clash of visitors’ fixtures, including a long-standing annual Charity Day for Friday 26th July which would have coincided with the start of Captain’s Weekend and the Club’s Summer Ball, the Summer Ball has had to be moved to Saturday 27th July. The Band has now been re-booked for this date, but it’s a date to put in your diary if its not already there!
The Club continues to develop and refine the proposals to reduce our electricity costs by installing more energy-efficient lighting throughout the Clubhouse. There was a meeting with the Club’s electrical contractor on Friday 1st March, and we are hoping to have a formal proposal shortly to put before the Finance Committee. We believe that the electricity tariff for the Club is about to rise in April to 15p (up by 28%) so obviously the sooner we can move on this the better.
Handicap & Competitions Chairman – Steve Cullington
The handicap review, which took place on Monday 21st January, looked at the performance of 33 players, as a result of which 15 players received adjustments. Those handicaps which had been revised came into effect on 1st March
The following team organisers have been agreed for the forthcoming season :
A Team – Paul Lewis
B Team – Andrew Watson
C Team – Martin Bellamy
Social Team – Roger Smith if no-one has come forward.
The H&C Committee proposed to change the rule regarding prize winners attending the Captain’s Presentation Evening. Their view is that all winners should still, where possible, attend the Presentation Evening to receive their voucher. Apologies should be given if they are unable to attend and they will be available again the following month. Non-appearance at that evening will, however, result in the voucher being presented to their Pro Shop account. The H&C Committee did not think there was any justification for a member winning a prize in a club competition and not receiving their voucher, and as we are looking to encourage greater participation in events and we hope this change in awarding prizes will do that.
The Management Committee unanimously endorsed this change.
The H&C Committee proposed an increase in the level of prizes for Club Competitions in 2013.
After discussion, it was decided to retain existing 4 prizes but to increase the prize payout from £95 to £115 while still retaining the £2 entry fee. The competitions would be open to all categories of members with first, second and third prizes available to all entrants and a prize for the best gross score of the competition.
It was also agreed that there would be a review at the end of the current season of the level of team subsidies for 2014 and team organisers would be advised of this intention
Treasurer – Roger Rawson
The Treasurer reported that the recent offers we had been making had attracted 26 new members, made of 3 old members, 2 students, 5 young and 16 full members with still several more in the pipeline who would hopefully join.
There have been 2 resignations and 1 held in abeyance for operation hoping to return October 2013.
It was noted that both bar, and green fee takings, had shown increases up to Christmas, however due poor weather, mainly the snow, the takings in January had been poor.
Due to increases imposed by Greene King, bar prices would have to go up across the board, for both members, and visitors.
The main task in February had been the preparation of invoices for membership subscription renewal, and then getting them distributed as quickly as possible to all members. This had now been completed and renewal documents were available for collection in the Clubhouse
Work had now been done in preparing a revised budget for 2013, and this would be fully discussed by the Finance Committee at their next meeting.
Club Marketing – Graham Miller
Graham Miller reported that the Group had been actively promoting the Club in a number of local publications during the last 6 weeks. There was good coverage in the March issue of the Stamford and District “Active” Magazine, with their feature “Get into Golf” where we actively co-operated with the journalist working on the article to promote SRGC
The Club has taken a 1-year space (A4 sized) on the Grantham Station Local Information board, located on the London Departure Platform. We have secured the only golf-related advert on the board and an option to renew it next year.
The Melton Times has been running a series of articles on “Local Sports Clubs”. We took the opportunity to take a full half-page advertorial (part advert, part editorial) which has turned out well – many thanks to our Press Officer, Chris Jones for his work on that one. With two follow-up advertisments to come, we are hopeful of gaining some membership interest from that area.
The promotion aimed at the residents of Newton Grange, Colsterworth, in return for the David Wilson sponsorship of the Club’s flowerbeds has now be revamped and 93 individual letters were distributed by hand as a “Spring Offer” with an invitation to visit Stoke Rochford between March and May. It will be interesting to see the take-up!
The next meeting of the group will be trying to finalise the proposals for a tee sponsorship package. This is being led by Steve Greenfield. It is hoped a scheme would be in place by 1st April for the new subscription year.
A draft of a “New Members’ Handbook” is under development which will be available shortly for consideration.
It was agreed that a questionnaire would be sent to any member who leaves the Club, except for those with obvious reasons (i.e. request to leave through ill-health, financial hardship etc).
Nearly at the end! Just one or two points of general interest to finish off this version of my blog.
The Secretary had received the results of the England Golf Questionnaire, collated from their 2012 survey of Clubs. The information will be digested and a summary presented at the next Management Meeting. From a first reading, however, it would look as if we share many of the same issues about recruitment and retention of members – 13,000 + affiliated members lost from England Golf in the last year, so we need to work all the harder to attract and retain members at Stoke Rochford, and spread the word that this is a great Club and a great place to play golf. And don’t forget, at this time of year when your friends are thinking of rejoining their current clubs, that the £75 “Member get Member” incentive is still available, so if you could persuade them to come to Stoke…….!
A big date for your diary - Easter Monday - 1st April 2013 will see the 50th anniversary, to the day, of Stoke Rochford Estates handing the management of the Club to its Members, and Steve Cullington & the Competitions Committee have organized the “Golden Jubilee” competition to mark this special occasion. It’s a shotgun start – morning and afternoon start times, a Member plus a guest, so please look at the noticeboard to see all the details, find a friend and come along and take part in the celebrations! It’s another opportunity to showcase the Golf Club as well for our visitors, so it would be great to see a full field in the Competition
Friday 5th April will see the first of the new season’s Captain’s presentation evening, and it would be great to see the Clubhouse filled with members to enjoy the social event and to join in the celebrations with our prizewinners. New members will be especially welcome, and I am sure, thanks to Peter Gill, we will be assured of a great evening.
These and other fixtures will be published shortly in your Club diary, which will be available in return for the payment of your subscription. In the meantime, all the Club’s forthcoming fixtures are available through a link on the website www.stokerochfordgolfclub.co.uk , so, to keep up to date with what’s happening, just log on!
I hope that, once again, you have found this blog both informative and interesting. Striking a balance between a mass of information and presenting it in an interesting way is always a challenge, but any constructive suggestions you might have will be favourably received and carefully considered. Until the next Blog, then, may I conclude once again by wishing you “good golfing”, good weather and goodbye until the next edition.
Stoke Rochford Golf Club
Chairmans Blog. January/February 2013
Since my last “Blog” it was with great sadness and great shock that we heard of the passing
of Chris Jones in an accident on Christmas Day, but we can all count ourselves very privileged to have known such a fine young man, indeed a “gentle giant”. All our sympathies go to Barry, Rachel, Will and family, and I know they all have taken great heart in the support shown to them over the last month. The funeral took place in Grantham on 14th
January, and the high regard in which he was held was evident from both the massive turn-out at the Church, but also the number of people who came to the Club afterwards to pay their respects.
In our continuing effort to communicate more effectively about matters which affect the Club, I will try in this blog to summarise some of the management items which may be of interest to members, which have arisen since the start of the year.
On 7th January there was a management meeting, the relevant points from which I have
summarised below :
Greens’ Chairman – Jeff Purdy
The estate had been contacted again about their wish to see the removal of the fir trees on the
right-hand side of the 14th hole (Colonel’s hide) and we had been advised that the work would be done shortly.
We had approached the Estate to see if they had any trees to donate to the Club this year, but they had responded that none would be available. To commence our long term tree under-planting, we may therefore need to purchase some, if the Woodland Trust are not going to be giving any away this year
The course spring maintenance programme has been started, with fairways being solid tined during the past 2 weeks, and is still ongoing.
The Greens were still growing and needing to be cut, which was encouraging, with some of the more damaged areas on the surrounds beginning to close in.
The new bunkers on the 4th had had their turf laid, and, weather permitting, the bunker linings and turf base layers will be installed by the middle of January.
The bunkers on the 3rd would be altered to address members’ concerns raised at the architect’s open meeting regarding the distance to the back edges of the bunkers, and these would be extended to provide a more level and fairer playing area.
The tree surgeon had visited on 7th January to discuss this seasons’ work, and it was hoped that the work identified would be started in February
A comment had been written into the member’s book regarding stones in bunkers to which the Green’s Chairman had responded . If the drier spell continues, other bunkers on the course would receive much needed work, moving sand and topping up during January.
House Chairman – Mrs June Miller
The House Chairman reported that she had had a meeting with an electrical wholesaler, a lighting equipment supplier and our own electrical contractor regarding the proposed energy-efficient LED Lighting Scheme, which was designed to improve the lighting in the clubhouse while at the same time reducing the usage, and, consequently, the cost. The Treasurer reported that our 3-year electricity supply contract was due to be renegotiated at the beginning of March, and we faced an increase of the order of 30%, so this scheme was essential if we were to keep our costs down.
Our contractor had had a few different ideas which he had put to the club, and the suppliers had now gone away to come up with alternative suggestions.
Further progress awaited their detailed responses after which a financial case would be put to the Management Committee.
Handicap & Competitions Chairman – Steve Cullington
The Handicap and Competition Chairman reported that the Christmas Competitions had not been a great success, due mainly to the poor weather conditions that had prevailed throughout the week, but after the cost of prizes had been deducted £77 had been presented to the Captain’s Charity.
A handicap review was scheduled for Monday 21st January, after which those handicaps which had been revised would come into effect on 1st March
The Vice-Captain’s suggestion for a review of the format of the Captain’s Presentation Evening was still being considered, and it was noted that, somewhat disappointingly, there was £500 of uncollected vouchers outstanding from last year from prize-winners who had not attended to collect their prizes.
Treasurer – Roger Rawson
The Treasurer was due to have a meeting with the Green’s Chairman and Head Green Keeper with regard to their budget proposals for the coming year which was scheduled for 16 January 2013
Takings from the gaming machine had declined substantially with the passing of one of our well-known members, and the gaming machine was not now generating a profit after leasing and licensing costs are covered. An agreement had been reached with the Company from whom we lease the machine, that, for a trial period, they would cover all the costs, so that we had no outgoings at all, other than electricity, and they would now take 50% of any takings made, with the Club retaining the remaining 50%.
The Committee discussed a proposal that members should be allowed to pay for their 2013-14 subscriptions up front, at the 2012-13 rate, in line with the special introductory offers that were available to new members joining the Club for the first time. The financial implications were spelled out, including the benefits of improved cash flow during the months of January, February and March, against the loss of income of the increase in April.
After some debate, there was a vote not to proceed with the suggestion, as the loss of income outweighed any financial benefit we could obtain by using the cash generated profitably.
Club Marketing – Graham Miller
The Club had received a good response to the £50 “taster one-month membership” offer, and so far three prospective members had taken up the opportunity to join as full members.
.The “Christmas Cracker” green fee offer had had a modest take-up and the response was somewhat disappointing.
The two alternative posters on the A1 continued to be rotated on a 14-day programme, and
thanks to Roger Rawson and his company for the design and fabrication of the posters which allowed this to happen with relative ease.
The work to set up Twitter and Facebook accounts had come to a standstill with Chris Jones’ passing, but this would be resurrected as soon as possible, although some help would be required from Members who were familiar with the operation of
these social media systems.
Steve Greenfield was still actively pursuing sponsors for tee signs, and a proposal would be developed for a number of alternative sponsorship packages.
We now had 1000 new Stoke Rochford brochures in the Club House, including an application form to join, which would also contain a single sheet insert which detailed the membership fees for all categories. As these inserts were loose, it would be easy to keep them current.
Dorne Werner was thanked for her design input to the leaflet which looked very professional
Secretary – Arthur Wheeler.
Three proposals had been received for the AGM,
two generated by Management, relating to the proposed subscription increase from April 1st, and a proposal to change the basis of the Club’s subscriptions from 2014 as a single Club subscription for both gentlemen and ladies, in addition to which the various affiliation fees to England Golf, the County Associations and the LGU would be shown separately.
This would allow the Club to comply with the discrimination & equality legislation, as well as making a fairer comparison between competing Club subscriptions, where the majority of Clubs in the area already
showed their subscriptions on this basis.
A third proposal had been received from Mr Jim Price requiring the Management Committee and Sub-Committees to publish their minutes within 10 days of any meeting taking place.
The proposal, having been seconded by Mr Trevor Harvey, would be debated at the AGM.
The Captain reported that he and the Lady Captain had arranged a meeting with the Ambulance Service with regard to the cost of a defibrillator and the necessary training.
He reported that after due consideration he had decided to cancel his “Last Supper” event.
With regard to the ball washers however, negotiations were progressing, and it was hoped to be able to install between three and five new ball washers around the course.
Steve Greenfield reported that following an entry in the suggestion book, he had looked into the situation with regard to Wi Fi in the Club House and he was still waiting for cost figures.
Andrew Watson informed the meeting that he would take on the role of “B” Team Captain, for what would have been the last year of Chris Jones’ tenure. The “B” Team players had requested that as a tribute to Chris, they be allowed to wear red team shirts for the coming season. This was agreed.
The Secretary told the meeting that sponsorship for the 2013 diary was progressing well and he hoped to be receiving the draft proof very soon.
This summarises the proceedings of the Management meeting.
Annual General Meeting
On the 6th Feb we held the Stoke Rochford Golf Club’s AGM, which was attended by 90 members.
Once again I would like to summarise the proceedings for those members who were unable to attend :
The captain started off the AGM in presenting a cheque to the Alzheimer’s Society for
£4256.85 and, on Roger’s behalf, I would like to thank everybody who contributed to this very worthy charity.
The Chairman then called for a few moments silence to remember absent friends
After apologies for absence and approving the minutes of the AGM held on 1st February 2012, there being no matters arising, each of the officers of the Golf Club then presented their reports. In accordance with the Club’s rules, individual reports were received from the Captain, the Secretary, the Green’s Chairman, the Handicap & Competition Chairman, the Fixture Secretary, the House Chairman, the Treasurer, and finally my own report on the year as your Chairman.
Questions were invited after each report, and after the treasurer’s report, which reported an operating loss for the year, club member Mr Trevor Broadhead expressed great concern over the future viability of the golf club if the continuing financial climate were to continue. After a long and open discussion where these concerns were openly debated, the members were told that the Finance, Marketing and Management Committees were watching the club’s finances with great diligence, all costs and expenses were being monitored, and every opportunity would be taken to reverse the trend of the last few years.
After all the reports had been presented, the three proposals notified to the Secretary and displayed in the clubhouse were tabled :
The first proposition,
“That the Standard Rate Annual Subscription for 2013/2014 shall be increased to £660 with the House Membership to remain at £5 “was proposed by Roger Rawson and seconded by Graham Miller. Both detailed the reasoning behind the increase, after which I invited anyone to speak for or against the proposition, and as no comments came from the floor, a vote on a show of hand took place and the
proposal was passed
The second proposition
“In order to comply with the Equality Act 2010, and to recognise the merger of the English Golf Union & the English Women’s Golf Association, Section 4(e) of the Club’s Constitution and rule book be changed, reference to the EGU and EWGA be changed to “England Golf” and the words “ agrees to pay” be amended to “agrees to collect and remit” was proposed by Graham Miller and seconded by Keith Helstrip
and was in line with the explanation for the changes to which I made reference in my summary of the January Management meeting. Once
again I invited anyone to speak for or against the proposition, and as no comments came from the floor, a vote on a show of hand took place and the
proposal was passed
The third proposition,
“ Stoke Rochford Golf Club Management Committee and each of its “feeder” sub-committees must publish the full minutes of each and every meeting within ten(10) days of a meeting having occurred. The first time of publication must be for meetings held in March 2013” was proposal by Mr. Jim Price and seconded by Mr. Trevor Harvey
After Jim Price had spoken in favor of his proposition and a somewhat shortened supporting speech was received from his seconder, Trevor Harvey, I asked if anyone else would like to respond to the proposal, at which point the Secretary, Arthur Wheeler explained in detail that the Committee had discussed this request on three occasions in the last 12 months, and spelled out why they had voted not to accede to it, on the grounds that a number of personal and
commercially sensitive issues were covered at Committee. The Committee had decided that it would not always be in the best interests of the Club or its members if these were put in the public domain. I had already pledged that as much non-sensitive material would be included in my regular blog, and after the Vice-Chairman elect Mr Graham Miller had made a couple of further points, and there being no more speakers from the floor, a secret vote was taken at the request of Mr. Price in accordance with section
9(d) of the club’s rules.
With 30 votes in favour and 60 against, the
The last item on the agenda was the election of the Club’s Officers & committee members for the following year.
The results were as follows :
Messrs Richard Skelton, Rod Rawson, John Martindale, Gerald Morley, Fred Atter and Ralph Davenport
Myself, Kevin Dodds
Mr Graham Miller
Mr Peter Gill
Mr Gary Skerritt
Mr Arthur Wheeler
Mr Roger Rawson
Mr Keith Helstrip
Handicap & Competitions Chairman: Mr Steve Cullington
Mrs June Miller
Immediate Past Captain: Mr Roger Smith
Mrs Marion Carvath, ( Ladies Captain ), Mrs Carol Hamilton, (Ladies Secretary), Messrs Malcom Edwards, Steven Greenfield, Simon Glencross, Peter Mills, Gary Sharp and Andrew Watson,
At the AGM James Footitt
and Greg Shelton stood down from the Committee, and I am very grateful to them both for their work throughout the year on your behalf.
With James Footitt standing down, we have a vacancy for the position of Junior Organiser, which James has filled with distinction for the last 3 years, and who helped us to achieve our “GolfMark” accreditation for the organisation of coaching at the Club for our junior members.
We are always grateful to any adults who are able to assist in the development of our junior section, since the juniors are the “seed corn” for the Club’s future, so if you are interested in finding out more about what might be involved, please contact me and let me know.
In addition, our Handicap and Competitions Organiser, Steve Cullington is looking for a Captain and organiser for the Club’s Social Team for the coming season, so if you would like to give him a hand, please do not hesitate to give him a call.
The meeting concluded with your outgoing Captain, Roger Smith, presenting his successor, Peter Gill with his Captain’s tie and pullover, and in turn, Peter giving a gracious acceptance speech, as well as presenting Roger with his past-captain’s tie and a framed souvenir – a Stoke Rochford flag surrounded by details of all the Club’s Presidents, Chairmen and Captains – to mark his year as Captain.
If you have had the stamina to read as far as this, you will be pleased to know that you are nearly at the end!
Just one or two points of general interest to finish off this version of my blog.
Captain’s Drive-In will be on
Sunday 3rd March, where Peter Gill and Marion Carvath will be organising a shotgun-start competition, followed by the actual drive-in and a buffet in the Clubhouse.
It would be great to see as many members supporting your new Captains and the start to new season by coming along on the day. Look out for the posters for details.
Easter Monday - 1st April 2013 will see the
50th anniversary, to the day, of Stoke Rochford Estates handing the management of the Club to its Members, and Steve Cullington & the Competitions Committee are organising an event to mark this special occasion, so please look at the noticeboard to see what they have in mind, and come along and take part in the celebrations!
These and other fixtures will be published shortly in your Club diary, which this year, through the hard work of your Secretary Arthur Wheeler, will be self-financing on the back of advertising from our suppliers.
I am sure you all agree the winter weather has not helped either the golf course or the finances,
but now the snow has gone, we are still one of the few golf courses that are not playing on winter greens, so please spread the word that Stoke Rochford is still one of the best winter courses in the area, and that you can play golf at Stoke when you cannot on a lot of the other local golf courses.
Our promotions have brought in an encouraging number of new members since Christmas, to whom we offer a warm welcome, but we could still do with lots more, so with the new fees now in place for golf up to 1st April 2014 , which are very competitive with those of our neighbours, who still have to fix theirs, any new members that we can attract will certainly improve the financial position of the Club.
Please remember that the “
Member Get Member Offer” which we improved last year, and which allows you to introduce another member and get
£75 off your next year’s subscription, is still open.
6 members were able to take it up last year, but It would be nice to think that we could all spread the word to attract new members and ensure the continuity of the Club.
I hope that you have found this blog both informative and interesting. I always welcome feedback, preferably positive (!) but as long as its constructive and helpful, then you may rest assured that it will be carefully considered by both myself and your Committee. Until the next Blog, may I conclude by wishing you “good golfing”, good weather and goodbye until the next edition.
Stoke Rochford Golf Club