May I wish all our members a Happy Christmas and a Joyous New Year. I hope you enjoy reading about our club’s operation since my last newsletter in September.
New General Manager I have previously advised the membership by email that our new GM, Jonathan Towns, will be starting with us on 6 January 2020. Jonathan is a PGA member and brings with him a wealth of golfing and retail knowledge. Please make him welcome when you first see him.
New Club Captain Unfortunately, our Club Captain, Nathan Pearson, resigned his position in December, due to increasing work commitments. The Board has appointed our Vice-Captain, Barry Lalonde to fill the role and Nathan has agreed to support Barry as his Vice-Captain. I would like to thank Nathan for his efforts in the Captain’s role as well as Barry for taking on his new responsibilities.
New Honorary Member It gives me great pleasure to announce that Blake Windred has accepted our invitation to become an honorary member of Waratah Golf Club. Blake has an outstanding record of achievement at WGC and we are proud to welcome him back to our club as he starts his professional golfing journey.
Financial report Unfortunately, our club has continued to perform below our budget expectations, and at the end of November, we currently sit at $55K below our nominal breakeven annual budget. On a positive note, we are moving into our strongest trading months over the Christmas period and we are hopeful that we can move back closer to budget during this period. Our YTD income is reasonably healthy and is above budget, but the costs we are incurring during these dry weather periods in keeping the course in good order have resulted in significantly higher than normal outgoings. The major contributing factors to the course maintenance cost have been in the repair and replacement of vital ageing reticulation infrastructure. In my last newsletter I announced an increase of our competition fees by $1 per round from Sunday 6 October. This was the first increase in over 2 years, and I thank our members for accepting this increase without complaint. Our membership numbers continue to rise and are now sitting at 761 across all categories. This is a fantastic result to have our membership numbers increasing by about 8% in a total market that is diminishing by 1-2% per annum across Australia. Much of this increase can be directly attributable to the outstanding promotional efforts of our recently departed General Manager, John and all our golfing team. In discussing our finances, I must again reinforce with our membership, that your annual fees do not give you the right of playing our course without paying green fees of $7. Your membership entitles you to full use of all the practice facilities on site, but the golf course is user pays. If you wish to have practice playing access, without paying green fees, your membership should be upgraded to silver status, or you should pay the extra annual fee to allow it.
House Activities. We continue to develop plans for the upgrade of the clubhouse to improve our members and visitors experience. The short-term aim is to attempt to apply and receive government grants to perform the construction works, but the shortage of funds is hindering our attempts to develop these plans. We require the services of an architect and quantity surveyor to develop our vision, and the fees for their services are currently outside our means. Our ladies committee recently donated the funds required to purchase new shade cloth blinds for the deck, and they have been put to great use in recent weeks blocking out the summer westerly sun. Our talented volunteers used their carpentry skills to install the blinds and my thanks go to both the ladies committee and the volunteers for their generosity in both money and time.
Functions Function season is in full swing and our clubhouse is becoming a much sought-after venue for functions of all shapes and sizes. Our growth in this market is due exclusively to the efforts of our functions and hospitality team and our thanks go to them for their efforts. We have a very small catering and hospitality team and they work incredibly hard at this time of year. Please give them a thank you when they serve you next. I would like to thank our membership for their understanding when the clubhouse is full of revellers and the inconvenience that it causes to them.
Golf Activities The junior golf clinics on Sunday mornings under the management and tutelage of PGA professional, Mitch Peattie, are going gang-busters and it is amazing to see so many keen youngsters enjoying themselves at our course. For details of these clinics, please contact the office or the pro shop. Mitch came to the Board about 12 months ago to offer his services to operate these clinics and he has done a wonderful job in generating the interest and participation from a new generation of players. I would also like to thank Lorraine Smith and Sue Oakey for their ongoing support of Mitch and his program. The Match Committee has compiled the new golf program for 2020. The most significant change is to move the club championships away from the very busy October period of the calendar. The championships for 2020 will now be played in July, when the course is always in fine order and the greens are running quickly. Our greens staff have found it increasingly difficult to maintain the greens in championship condition for 4 or 5 consecutive weeks over this hot weather period. Moving the championships to July results in the course only needing to be set up for championship play for 1 or 2 weeks in the damaging hot weather.
Slow Play We are not alone in fighting the seemingly losing battle to reduce the duration of our competition rounds to 4 hours and under. Many of us remember the times that 3 hour rounds were the norm and that was without carts and modern equipment. It may be a stretch for our fields to complete rounds in 3 hours but it should be noted that the first group out on a Saturday regularly completes their round in under that time. Why do we end up with 4.5 – 5-hour rounds at the end of the day? On average, we would have about 45 groups playing on a Saturday and if we are losing 90 minutes between the first and last group, that only equates to each group losing 2 minutes per round. Or it could mean that 5 groups losing 18 minutes a round, which is roughly the equivalent to a hole for each slow group. The Board is of the belief that if a group is not making a conscious effort to increase their speed of play, they are in fact making a conscious effort to play slowly. It is not acceptable for groups to ignore the requirements of the majority of the members, so that they can enjoy their game at the pace they desire. Increasing speed of play is not rocket science – it just needs our members to all be thinking about it and trying to improve. The Board will be trying to highlight issues by promoting a practice of the week that will speed up each group by just a little. Remember that if each normal group only picks up 2 minutes per round, the result is fantastic. The other more macro issue for the club is that it is very difficult to attract new members to play competition golf if it takes all day to get around. The time it takes to play a round of golf is one of the major restrictions to growing the game and it will only get worse if we don’t start to fix it. Note that the Board considers habitual slow playing groups who make no attempt to improve their speed of play could well be in breach of the Code of Conduct detailed below and may be subject to some sort of disciplinary action. It would be much better if everyone makes an effort, rather than going down that track.
Code of Conduct The Code of Conduct mentioned in my last newsletter has been executed and is now available for review on the club website and on the noticeboard. It is disappointing that we have had to implement this procedure, but hopefully some of our membership will recognise that their behaviours may require modification going forward. As stated in my last newsletter the Board does not understand why some of our members feel the need to abuse and harass other members, but we do understand that it is a practice which must cease if we to grow the prosperity of our club.
Development Proposals/Asset Sales for WGC Housing Development It is my belief that our developer partners and WGC have now come to agreement on the details of the shareholders agreement, which is the final contract for execution. The contract is currently sitting with the trustee of the funds for our developer and I am advised that they believe approval to proceed will be given early in the new year. Their confidence is sufficiently high that they are now engaging the services of an architect to commence the designs of the development. This work is being performed now to attempt to expedite the processes through council. The expected schedule for the development is- Rezoning and DA period – 12 to 18 months Planning and Financing of Stage 1 of development (20 units adjacent to 4th tee) – 12-18 month Construction of Stage 1 – 6 months. Construction of other stages plus golf course work – 3 years From this rough schedule, the first actual construction activity will probably not occur for another 3 years at least, and the completion of all works perhaps 6 years away.
Cycle Way The contracts with council have been signed and executed in the week commencing 9 December. Commencement of works under the contract is unknown at this time. Poker Machine Licence Sale We have entered into contracts with a local club for the sale of 3 poker machine licences for $40,000. We are having some minor problems with the execution of the contracts, but they should be sorted out early in the new year.
Volunteers Way Our outstanding group of volunteers have decided to branch out into civil design and construction and as a result a new pedestrian bridge over the drain on the 7th fairway has been constructed from waste materials from our site. It was formally opened by our Club Patron, Col Johnston in November and serves as a constant reminder of the terrific work our volunteers do every week of the year. Thank you one and all.
Till next time, play well and enjoy our wonderful game,
Regards Peter Dyer President WGC
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