Note from the President – The Club, the Member and the Financial Challenges

Members will be aware that we have made many changes to the way the Club operates in recent weeks. The course is currently open for social golf and we hope to be able to keep it open for as long as possible.

The Club is aware of the re-stated position of Golf Australia that all golf courses should be shut. This recommendation however has not been adopted in Directions issued by the State’s Chief Health Officer (CHO). Ultimately the Club is overseen by the Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming OLGR) and it has specifically referred to and is guided by the advice and Directions of the CHO. The Direction in summary notes:

Licensed Clubs are a non-essential business although outdoor based sporting activities limited to two people observing social distancing is permitted. The directive specifically notes Golf and Tennis as exceptions to the requirement to close.

It is difficult for our Club, with its kaleidoscope of opinions across our membership, to adopt a position that is more restrictive to members than that directed by the CHO and the OLGR. I believe we have adopted a reasonable position with strong health-based protocols to keep members and the community safe. If Directions change or the Committee feels that we cannot operate a safe environment, we may need to close the course again.

The Club

We have received feedback from some members enquiring of subscription refunds, credits or compensation for time when the course is shut. While we are hopeful that the course will remain open, members should understand the Club’s position on compensation. The enquiries have been from members who have paid for the full year up front and others who still have payments remaining. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide some guidance on how the Club exists and is funded.

The Brisbane Golf Club was established and continues after 124 years because the members with a common interest in golf make that happen. Our Club and similar based not-for-profit clubs (golf, bowls, croquet…) should not be viewed in the same light as for-profit clubs such as gyms which offer membership to consumers with profits flowing to the owners, sometimes large public companies.

The Brisbane Golf Club has Rules that govern its existence, the powers of the Club and Committee and importantly the role of members. In summary, some of the more distinguishing elements you will find in our Rules and not on the wall of the gym:

  • Our primary object is to provide a golf course and clubhouse and to compliment these with related facilities and activities conducive to the playing of golf;
  • The Club can buy, borrow, lease, invest and undertake many other functions, under the watchful eye of the Committee and the members;
  • The Club is a not-for-profit incorporated association. All profits stay in the Club and are reinvested into the assets and activities of the Club for the benefit of members;
  • We recognise and celebrate long-standing members, not of two years but of 25, 50, 60+ years of membership;
  • Our members elect the Committee that oversees the running of the Club;
  • The Committee has limited powers and on occasion must seek the support of members for change;
  • Members review the performance of the Club and the Committee annually and may be heard at General Meetings;
  • All membership subscriptions are at an annual rate and no member is entitled to a refund of the annual subscription.

This framework is supported by many members in voluntary roles on Committees, Sub-Committees and helping with events and functions. There are those who contribute their expertise to specific projects and the small army of course volunteers and those who tend our gardens. These contributions are for the benefit of all members, not just those volunteering.

The Club has survived through two World Wars. The Spanish Flu and more than our share of floods. This survival would not have happened without the hard work and financial support of members.

The Member

We have many membership categories that address the needs and wants of members. These have become complicated and contentious and are part of our plans for review this year.

Our members are at the core of why we as a golf club exist. The assets, the activities, the functions, the services are all directed to members or for the benefit of members. The Committee considers the financial position of the Club each year and determines the financial impost to be placed on members to support the Club’s needs through the annual subscription.

Each member agrees to pay the annual subscription to maintain membership. Most members pay this subscription at the beginning of the year but the Club also has provision for payments semi-annually and in some cases monthly or weekly. From the commitment for the annual subscription, the Club can meet its expenditure and obligations for the year and the member receives the benefits of membership from the respective category.

Importantly, we are all members of a Club not members of a Golf Course.

Financial Challenges

When the Committee set the budget for the current financial year we did not anticipate that large sections of our operations would be curtailed. We have lost all functions, weddings, kitchen and bar trade and have been severely hampered with golf operations and retail, possibly for the rest of this year.

From the ruins of our 2019/20 budget we are managing change as best we can to keep the course open and accessible to members. We have sadly needed to stand down most staff while maintaining reduced hours for others to keep the golf and course going. These steps were taken to offset the loss of income from external sources and members’ regular trade. We remain very confident that we will navigate the remaining half-year but we exist, as always, with the support of members.

Some additional services we have offered to members cannot be provided in the current climate, so we are considering the equitable financial solution to those. The annual subscriptions do not form part of that consideration. As members, particularly during the difficult times, we need to support the Club for the Club to survive.

As I have previously stated, our Treasurer Geoff Moore will provide a half-yearly update to Members in the middle of this month. It will give some further commentary on the financial outlook for the balance of the year.

Please continue to enjoy our course and maintain good hygiene and social distancing.

Phil Wikman, President

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