Business Irish

Thursday 8 December 2016

Lahinch finances out of rough after staff cutbacks and hike in fees

Gordon Deegan

Published 23/04/2011 | 05:00

Finances at one of the country's most exclusive golf clubs have come out of the rough -- but only after hiking up members' subscriptions by 17pc and imposing a three-day week on staff.

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In a report presented to members of Lahinch Golf Club's annual general meeting yesterday, club captain Eugene Gilligan reported "a modest surplus" of €65,280 for 2010.

According to Mr Gilligan, this represented "a significant reversal of the trend of recent years", in which the Co Clare links club reported a combined operating loss for 2009 and 2008 of €1m due mainly to the collapse in green-fee income. The club recorded an operating loss of €476,580 in 2009, which followed an operating loss of €551,323 in 2008.

Mr Gilligan said the 2010 surplus "was achieved mainly through the 17pc increase in the annual subscription for 2010 coupled with the introduction of a three-day week for all staff from January to March and October to December".

The club captain said that achieving the surplus was "the result of a cost reduction policy introduced in 2008 and continued through to this year".

"Significant cost reductions were also achieved in course materials, administration, upkeep of the clubhouse and golf activities," Mr Gilligan said, adding that staff numbers had been reduced through voluntary redundancies.

In response to the drop in green-fee income, the club has also put on hold all major capital works, including a planned €140,000 irrigation system and refurbishment of the club-house.

Revenues

The club counts Munster rugby captain and Irish international Paul O'Connell as one of its members. In a bid to boost revenues, the club admitted 56 new members last year, which generated €636,785 between entrance fees and overseas life membership.

The fee income from new members, along with a members' draw, resulted in the club recording an overall surplus of €744,440 last year.

The club's accumulated fund at the end of 2010 stood at €5.559m. A further 5pc hike in members' subscriptions for 2011 in response to the drop in green-fee income was agreed at a special meeting at the golf club last October -- but only after heated debate.

The minutes of that meeting, which were circulated at yesterday's AGM, record club member Michael Roche telling the meeting that there was no justification for the increase and that it only ignored the club's problems. He said the club was budgeting to lose 200 members if the subscription increase went ahead. Member Brian McInerney also forecast a loss in members if the subscription was increased.

Members

However, most members agreed to the hike, after a motion proposed by Mr Roche that the vote be held by secret ballot was defeated.

Placing staff on short time during the club's shoulder season and the voluntary redundancies reduced the club's staff costs from €1.32m to €1m last year, though last year's figure included unspecified redundancy payments. The hike in subscriptions helped increase income last year to €2.3m from €2.2m in 2009, with staff reductions and other cuts resulting in expenditure dropping from €2.69m to €2.24m.

The club's accounts show that green-fee income decreased last year from €944,522 to €927,040. Mr Gilligan said that the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud caused cancellation of green-fee visitors, while adverse weather caused the loss of 54 days, including 11 weekends.

Irish Independent

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