Open Forum – Summary
On Thursday 3rd October an ‘Open Forum’ was held at the club when about 90 members attended. I have tried to summarise the content for those members that were unable to attend.
The Chairman opened the evening and went through the agenda for the evening. He then gave a quick overview on how the Business Plan worked and was formulated and how we tried to set the budget within that business model. There was nothing new in the presentation to follow that was not already in the Business Plan which was approved at the AGM in March 2013. However it was an update on the priority in which we wished to proceed.
He reminded members that there was no vote tonight but that the Committee were interested in their views which would be discussed at a Committee meeting next week when a de-brief of this meeting would take place and the final budget would be set.
He congratulated Martin Coward (Head Geenkeeper) and Paul Staples (Deputy) on the condition of the course which in his opinion was the best he had ever seen (they were given a warm round of applause).
He also remarked on the impact of the new Committee system which enabled them to deliver projects more efficiently and that more had been achieved in the last 3 years than the previous ten. He did make the point that those that were in charge in those years put a tremendous amount of effort in but the system stopped them from delivering despite their valiant efforts.
He also thanked David Morgan (General Manager) who had now been here for three years for the impact he had on the improvements in the course and infrastructure.
He gave a quick run-down on Frank Pont’s career over the last 12 months. Since being employed by us he had been engaged on many other projects across Europe and the UK and with one pending in the USA namely-
Current clients in UK: Broadstone, Tandridge, Swinley, Blackmoor, Copt Heath, Blackwell, Brancepeth. Castle, Tyneside, and very likely Royal Wimbledon.
France: Hardelot, Le Touquet, Opio Valbonne, Servanes (5 courses in France)
Belgium: Royal Spa
Holland: R Hague, Kennemer, De Pan, Eindhoven, Toxandria, Dommel, Amsterdam Old, Hoge Kleij, Sallandsche, Oosterhout and 10 other clubs below top 20. (20 in Holland)
Pending client in US (Chicago area, not announced yet).
New builds Turfvaert (top 30) and Swinkelsche (Top 10 pos 5-10) plus 3/ 9 holes courses, all in Holland.
The Chairman handed over to GM - David Morgan
The General Manager welcomed everyone to this year’s Open Forum and spoke to the following -
I thought it might be useful to start of with talking a little on what we’ve achieved as a Club in the last 3-4 years and then perhaps move on to the rationale behind why we are looking to continue with making improvements to the course and clubhouse.
- Hopefully you will have noticed in the last couple of years an up-lift in the overall presentation of the golf course including improved pathways and walkways
- Better quality putting and playing surfaces being offered on a daily basis and not just on the “red carpet days”
- Improved clubhouse environs i.e. tidier and better presented flower beds, better paths & walkways around the clubhouse
- Improvements to the clubhouse such as new windows and doors, continuous maintenance to the fabric of the building (Including the roof repair above ladies locker room, which we are just about to start)
These are just some of the things we’ve achieved and worked on. I don’t want to dwell too long on where we’ve come from but it is important that we understand just how much progress we have made, and continue to make.
Investment in our course, the clubhouse and its environs has been steady and hopefully enjoyed by you as members. It hasn’t gone un-noticed by visitors and guests either who return to the Club year on year and comment positively on things such as our modernised locker rooms or the Bi-fold doors in the lounge or indeed the enhancements to the course.
I was chatting with one visitor recently about the course improvements etc and about how we wanted to ensure Broadstone remained the top Club, in not just Dorset but the Southwest. His reply was, “Wow it must be great to be part of a Club that is driving forward into the future with such a positive plan, I wish my club was bit more like that!
Our golf course is a classic that is unrivalled in this area, you guys already know this, but now quite a few of the industry professionals are getting to know this also, guys such as Adam Lawrence editor of the magazine Golf Course Architecture who visited us recently was amazed by just how beautiful our course is. More and more of the industry professionals are aware now of just how good we are and that’s down to the fact that we are continuing to make improvements and working with skilled knowledgeable professionals like Frank Pont.
I know I’ve said it before but it’s extremely important that we keep on moving forwards and improving. Investment into both the course and the clubhouse is essential to separate us away from the other clubs that are not as fortunate as us and don’t have the course layout that we have.
Under our identified Capital expenditure needs there is also still a requirement for investment into the clubhouse facilities. I hear quite frequently “how nice it would be to remove the corner where the television sits and open up that view” or “wouldn’t it be nice to have some new furniture in the 19th bar area” This is where the real benefit of our Business model and our Over Draft facility is... In that we can achieve all these things over the coming years without the need for member’s levies or the likes.
We have to future-proof our Club and make sure that it continues to thrive and develop, continued investment goes a long way to ensuring this. It helps us to continue to attract visitors to our course and also a steady stream of new members.
Finally, to summarise I think we have a fantastic golf course layout and a great team of green staff headed up by Martin Coward that delivers us, on a daily basis, top quality surfaces to play on, a top class head golf professional and his team providing all the services that go with his role, the Club office team of Val & Tracy also do a fantastic job of looking after the membership and as you all know we are going through a change in the providers of our bar & catering service and once our new company are in place we will then hopefully be in a position to offer what arguably has to be the best overall golf membership package in the area.
As I said when I started out some three years ago, we are on a journey to making Broadstone both the best course and Best Club in Dorset. And I think we have come quite some way towards achieving this!
I’ll now hand you over to Frank who will give you some insight into the ethos of a Colt course and the design principles.
Following on from this we’ll talk through the works that we undertook in phase 1 and the remedial work planned to resolve any outstanding issues then move on to planned work for this winter.
Frank Pont (Golf Architect Infinite Design) gave a quick reminder and over view of Harry Colts design ethos and principles which he was applying to Broadstone within his restoration programme (Full presentation to follow)
Then together with David Morgan they gave a quick overview of the remedial work to be carried out this year from lessons learnt from 5th, 6th, 8th and 14th.
I will try and summarise –
- Angle of bunkers – some of the steepness would be lessened slightly to help the sand stick to the banking. It did appear that our local sand (Wareham white) had grains of a round formation and we really needed a more angular sand which was being experimented with. It was also an exceptionally dry summer and many courses had similar problems as very dry sand does move easily.
- Bunker edging – we would be revisiting some of the bunkers to ensure more heather and fescue grasses were introduced. Martin Coward has been doing a lot of research into the transplanting of these materials and this would happen over the off season. Some of the bunker edges would also be refined slightly where exit and entry was a bit steep such as the right of the 6th bunker. There was also an issue of stones entering the bunkers from above and some would be re-edged to form a lip to stop stones falling in. This again had been exacerbated by the extremely dry summer and was mirrored by other courses who suffered similarly.
- Peripheral areas damaged – over this winter some more work would take place including some turfing to repair some areas that were not responding.
- Green reshaping – the 8th in particular was so full of thatch that it would be necessary to re-turf with green quality grass and re-jig the irrigation, this would again be completed in the off season to make the lower half a usable area for pin placements.
They then went on to give a presentation on the new 5th tee and the widening of the bail-out area before the bunkering, the new 6th tees which would be lifted including the ladies tee and the leylandii removed. Finally the 11th green where bunker restoration would take place to restore to the colt ethos. (click here for presentation).
Jim Robertson – would it make sense to remove the large pine at the back of the green to open up the views?
FP - in my opinion yes and take the deciduous birch which stops the heather from growing.
Steve Purdy – Is there a plan to move the tee on the 14th
DM – yes it is just a cost restriction at the moment as well as building a tee we would have to instate a path and move the irrigation system.
Jim Kirsch – what is the plan with the removal of the gorse at the 14th as my experience is that when you cut something down it grows with more vigour?
DM – this is part of the Managing Heathland Project and a lot of it was straggly. We have since sprayed it with ‘Laser’ a product that kills gorse and grass but allows heather to flourish. It is on-going and we are unlikely to have huge swathes of heather but it is showing signs of returning.
Mike James – when will the restoration project finish?
DM – it depends on funds available but at least 5 -7 years at the moment.
Graham Butson – thanked Frank Pont for his presentation and the Green staff for the fantastic work undertaken and condition of the course. He wanted to make the point that he and other members wanted to see holes finished before we moved on to others making the point that he thought that the key design feature of the 14th was that it would be a dog-leg with the tee moved over to the right. The 5th is the same without the new tee.
DM as I said before it is a cost restriction at this point and we are ensuring that we complete 5th and 6th as we ran out of time last year due to the weather. But it was appoint well made.
FP said that he considered both the 8th and 14th finished as a design albeit there was some remedial work to be undertaken. The moving of the tee at the 14th would be the icing on the cake but it did not detract from the design of the hole or its stunning appearance.
Alan Jones – I do not remember the 8th green having such a steep slope it was a gentle step and then up to another
FP – we have studied the black and white photos from the 30’s and it shows a steep incline on the green. I can only think something was done between then and when you started to play here.
Charles Doggett – last year at the forum I recall it being said that when the ball hit the slope of a bunker it would run back. It has been quite common this year for it to plug and then it is extremely difficult to get up the face to play it.
DM – because of the shape of the grains the green staff have almost had to build layers of steps to support the sand up the bank which was then to deep hence the ball plugging. As said previously we are looking at softening some of the slopes and using different angular sand.
There were no further questions and the Chairman thanked the presenters and those members that raised various issues for discussion. He said that was the whole point of the forum so that the Committee could hear member views and then discuss. It was also useful for members to have an ‘experts’ view point on the restoration and lessons learnt.
David Holmes (Finance Officer) then gave a quick overview on the business model which was working well and he anticipated that instead of reaching the £250k overdraft limit that was planned it was more likely that we would only reach £220-225k.
The surplus forecast was not going to be as healthy due to a slight drop in Green Fee income and a substantial increase in Machine Maintenance, but a small surplus would be achieved.
He had been asked by the Chairman to raise the issue of extending the overdraft. He stated that so far the overdraft facility was serving us well and we paid around £2k on interest per year, this would drop as the amount we borrowed dropped. It was also off set in that during the 6 months we were in credit we were being paid interest on that money. If the interest rate rose than the amount we were paid whilst in credit would also rise cancelling out interest we paid the bank whilst in debit. At present we planned to do without the overdraft in 5-7 years which could be extended.
Mike Buxton – I was involved in the early stages of this and saw your initial figures. Did you also build in a surplus for each year?
DH – yes I have built in a surplus for each year but I am trying to forecast 10 years ahead each time we revise the business plan, so it is a forecast and not set in stone.
There were no further questions and the Chairman made the point that the model was working well but we were in terms of development and investment dealing in small sums and there was an historical spend of things that we had to have to operate. When we get an emergency this makes our finances and surplus forecast very difficult to achieve. It was therefore worth considering making use of the overdraft in a more flexible manner.
There was then an opportunity to a General Q&A but there were no further questions.
The Chairman thanked all those attending and the presenters and promised to put together a summary for all members to go on the web site.
He said that the Committee would consider those comments put forward at a debrief meeting next week and thanked those people that asked questions or made valid points.
Finally he reminded members present just what good value members we were getting at this club especially in comparison with subscriptions at neighbouring Golf Clubs. The Committee would explore how we took the issue of extending the overdraft facility forward which might mean presenting two Business Plans at the AGM. If approved this might enable us to do more work quicker but it was something we had to discuss further.
END OF EVENING