Clubs abolish joining fees in bid to lure new members
NEW Forest Golf Club members, many of whom paid between €10,000-€17,500 to join, have accepted the end of entry fees at the Tyrellspass resort. The members are voting with their wallets to help ensure the future of the club, which is owned by the Northern Ireland-based Eassda Holdings.
They want to see the club survive, but required assurances from the owners before they agreed to pay their 2010 subscriptions.
Last Thursday at the club's AGM, members were satisfied that they can pay their €1,000 annual sub in instalments over five months.
New Forest, and its sister club, Moy Valley in Kildare, also owned by Eassda Holdings, will not have any joining fee.
A new member can link up with New Forest for the sub of €1,000, while new entrants to Moy Valley will only pay the 2010 subscription of €1,250.
Reports that both clubs had gone out of business were wrong. They were shut for a period, but that was mainly due to the bad weather in the new year.
It's clear, however, that during that time there was some plain speaking by members before they decided to pay their 2010 annual dues.
They wanted to play their golf, but were also aware that as a property development company operating in the restrictive financial climate, Eassda Holdings has to manage its portfolio of commitments very carefully.
Dave Bollard, the 2009 New Forest captain, is one of those who paid €10,000 for his preference share, and he outlined the position of the members regarding the removal of entrance fees.
"We don't have an issue about it," he said. "Getting members in is more important. New Forest has done well from green fees and societies. Some would say it's the best parkland in the country, and it has exceptional drainage.
"In regards to getting new members, it was never going to happen at the price they were pitching it at.
"Long term, any course needs a bigger pool of members. We have a high percentage of active members, and there's a great spirit and camaraderie in the club."
New Forest has around 160 members, and Moy Valley about 100. After the AGM on Thursay at New Forest, six new members joined the Tyrellspass facility on Friday.
John Lawlor, director of golf for Moy Valley and New Forest said: "We have eliminated the joining fee. I won't pretend it hasn't been a difficult last two months, but both are fantastic places and I'm very confident about the future."
The tough climate for golf and for every business overshadows the facilities available at these two venues.
Moy Valley, designed by Darren Clarke, has a 54-bedroom hotel and a well-regarded golf course.
When it opened, a €25,000 entrance fee was required, but the market for golf at that price was already on the wane.
The banking crisis of 2008 accelerated the downward trend and many clubs have now done away with joining fees.
New Forest, which was designed by former Walker Cup-winning captain Peter McEvoy, is situated on a scenically impressive 300-acre estate.
Phone faults are being fixed, but in the meantime John Lawlor can be contacted at 086 382 5466.
Massive response to free Druids Glen offer
THE email links to Druids Glen Golf Resort were pulsing at a frantic level yesterday as golfers raced to book a free round.
Druids Glen's website offered a complimentary round of golf between now and March 10 to anyone who filled in an information form.
In the first four hours, over 15,000 hits were recorded on the website. Not all of the people would have filled in the form, but word about the deal was spreading at an amazing rate in Dublin yesterday.
A round at the renowned championship course at Druids Glen normally costs €90 at this time of year.