Knysna Golf Club Captain’s report
Thoughts and prayers:
Firstly, I’m sure we all offer our thoughts and prayers for those in our community who have either passed or had a loved one pass from Covid-19.
We also spare thoughts for all those around us that have been affected by the economic impact caused by lock- down, on businesses as well as individuals in our town.
Before further ado, I would like to thank my committee for their huge efforts during this past year. I cannot begin to tell you the amount of time and dedication this group has put in. With respect, I would like to mention them by name:
Judith Flevill – for teaching us and our staff on how to use “soft customer skills”. Wendy du Toit – for being the voice on behalf of our lady members, Hendri van der Merwe – for continuously providing us with a magnificent golf course. Malcolm Stevens – for bringing a fresh and professional approach to our club’s finances. Dave Mcilvenna – for your club competitions, sponsors and club communications. John Edwards – for your guidance and humility.
I salute you all.
Also, congratulations to Sam Bruce who earlier today became our new Lady captain.
I also thank our members for their unwavering support and the spirit in which you have all carried Knysna Golf Club.
Now before I report on what has been a torrid year internally, I would like to remind you that we are, first and foremost, a golf club. In respect of golf, we enjoyed some fantastic highlights pre lock- down. To mention a few:
- In September last year, we hosted our annual staff & caddie golf day with the winners being our own Gordon May and Neil Louw respectively. We also witnessed one of our juniors, Trent Huisamen enjoy his first hole in one on our 2nd hole.
- In October, we displayed our array of Greens equipment valued at close to R2 million for all to see. Team Dutchies beat Team Harry in our internal Ryder Cup with all proceeds going to charity.
- In November, during load shedding, we had 150 members watching our Bokke beat England to win the Rugby World cup. Our Ladies Bronze League team were crowned champions of the Southern Cape. Our oldest lady golfer, Mavis Halliday, won the Peggy Condon Trophy with a nett medal score of 71.
- In December, we hosted our 40th Knysna Men’s Open with our very own Ivan Palframan taking the honours.
- In January this year, we saw Mel Cloete and Tina Proctor win the annual Ashes Trophy.
- In February, we hosted Dale Hayes and Denis Hutchinson in a very special evening. We also saw Trish Leach, who had just become our most recent Honorary Life member, together with Mary O’Reagan, win the Finkelstein Trophy. In the same month we hosted Legendary Gary Player.
- In March we had Dalene Weir and Peter Zeeman win our Mixed Club Champs. Soon after we held our Annual Club Champs where Doug Griffin and Johan Greeff shared the spoils. Lizzy Lightley came out as our lady club champion. Alva Fisher and Annie Watkins won the Ladies Summer Knock out while Tim Proctor and Brian Fitzimmons won the Men’s Summer knock out. Congratulations to all of our winners!
- On the 24th March, we closed our Club.
Pre lock- down:
Before I go into any further detail about pre lock-down, it would be amiss of me not to mention that John Edwards and myself won the 2019 Knysna Winter knock-out competition…
My previous captain’s report was in August 2019 and at the time we were boasting about our achievements in the previous year and communicating how we were going to face the challenges in the new year. Suffice to say we had no idea what was to befall us in 2020 with Covid- 19 on the horizon. During February this year your committee attended a two- day strategic planning session which produced wonderful ideas and plans that we aimed to implement for the betterment of our club.
By introducing a new Treasurer with a fresh approach, we identified some financial challenges facing our club and we immediately began structuring a turnaround plan. We introduced member retention programmes and implemented course improvements. We also commenced with the securing of our diesel storage area, the relocation of our green fee office, introduced global on- line marketing, on- line booking and on- line checking- in. We commenced with a Human resource audit with the aim of up-skilling and restructuring our club staff. Then lock down happened.
We were thrust into major uncertainty. The very survival of our club was at stake. Your committee had to consider the reality of having zero rounds, zero revenue and salary commitments for an undetermined period of time. Many emergency committee meetings took place, not only considering our own safety, but the livelihoods of our 43 staff and our 31 designated caddies. We had to position all our safety compliance issues as well as affirm our commitment to staff. I am most proud of the fact that although our 31 designated caddies were not on our payroll system, between our generous members and the club, we managed to raise in excess of R186 000 for our caddies. I repeat, we raised R186 000 for our caddies throughout lock-down. I don’t think we realize how this would have impacted on their pride and dignity, not to mention their ability to put “food on the table”. The financial forecasting was inconceivable.
Our Treasurer spent COUNTLESS hours preparing best, middle and worst- case scenario budget forecasting amidst huge uncertainty. I cannot begin to thank Malcolm enough for the amount of hours and analysis he contributed towards this cause. Your committee had to make seriously tough decisions with regards to personnel and the potential future of the club. To give you an example, we were gearing to possibly go from a 38 000 rounds per year club to a 25 000 rounds per year club….from a 930 membership club to a 500 membership club……from a club staffed up to accommodate swallows during Summer to a club staffed to accommodate locals only……from a club with 17 ground staff to maintain our golf course, to a situation where our greenkeeper with the help of members, would ride the mower himself. The commitment made by our ground staff to obtain travel and work permits in order to continue maintenance of our golf course, was simply overwhelming.
Lock down commenced around 24th March. Your committee decided to continue paying full staff salaries until the end of May. Again, this amidst huge uncertainty. One of the toughest decisions to follow was the decision to reduce staff salaries and wages from the 01st June with no end in sight. Given our intention to preserve jobs as opposed to retrenchments, your committee negotiated individual salary reductions and our staff accepted. In hindsight, although the salary reduction period only lasted 3 months, these were three tough months for club and staff alike.
During this period, our committee called on members to pay their annual subscriptions as early as possible. Significantly, we had a zero increase in Subscription fees. In fact, we even asked those “discounted senior memberships” who could afford, to pay full subs. Our members responded extra-odinarily well and we could immediately see that our members would go to all lengths to preserve our club. For this, I thank you all.
During this period, our club manager, Mr. Quinten Webster, left the club having passed retirement age. Regrettably, Mr. Webster’s departure from the Club was not in the committee’s preferred manner. However, I can assure you that Mr. Webster was at all times dealt with respectfully and the club remains grateful for his 26 years of service to our club.
Post lock-down level 1:
Not only was our Treasurers forecasted budget the most impressive tool in gauging our performance while exiting severe lock-down levels, but you, our members, came out in droves to support our club by playing many rounds of golf without the prospect of enjoying the 19th hole. We all had to adapt to social distancing, masks and hygiene protocol. We had to adapt to a restricted halfway house, on- line checking in, pool noodles on our course (in the cups), not raking bunkers, not having caddies and not handling the pins. Who would have believed?
On the bright side, I am proud to announce that since the 01st April 2020, we have had 33 new members join our club. Sadly however, we have had 115 members either resign or fail to renew their subscriptions. Many of those members who have resigned have sent me emails commending our members on making them always feel welcome. Our club will continue to assist those less financially fortunate to become or remain members. Although we still have to come to grips with the new realities facing our club, we have an obligation to those of you who have continued to prove your loyalty and sacrificed your finances to remain members of Knysna Golf club. For those of you who have remained members, I believe that our club’s efforts to continue offering you value for money should be driven by the strategy session held in February this year and therefore it is my opinion that there should be maximum continuity in your duly elected committee.
The Elephant in the room:
When I became captain in 2018, I promised you two things. Firstly, to always act in the best interests of our club. Secondly to be transparent in every respect. I believe I have made every effort to deliver in both respects. On this note it was heart-breaking to learn of an un-precedented ”motion of no confidence” against me on our club noticeboard.
Nonetheless, I believe this motion was withdrawn this morning and I won’t draw any further attention to it. Where I do draw inspiration from is that before lock-down we were a happy group of members. Whoever the newly elected committee members are at the end of tonight, I can only wish them well in restoring our club to that position.
In closing, I have had a truly wonderful committee, developed magnificent friendships and enjoyed overwhelming support from our members during my journey as Captain.
It has been an honour and a privilege to serve you all.