Business Irish

Saturday 25 November 2017

Profits down 46pc at Lahinch Golf Club as fee income plummets

Gordon Deegan

Profits at one of the country's most exclusive golf clubs last year declined by 46pc to €291,947 after income from new membership fees plummeted.

According to Lahinch Golf Club's annual report, the 121-year-old Co Clare club recorded a surplus last year of €291,947, compared with a surplus of €540,231 in 2011.

The links club counts Irish rugby international Paul O'Connell and multi-Major winner Phil Mickelson among its members. The chief factor behind the drop in profits was revenue from entrance fees declining by 94pc from €262,999 to €15,000.

The drop in income from overseas life membership fees was less stark, as it declined from €179,606 to €141,815.

In a report presented to members of Lahinch Golf Club yesterday at its AGM, club captain Ray Hennessy confirmed that the club has lost 500 fee-paying members since 2009.

Overall, membership last year dropped by 87 from 2,772 to 2,685, and this followed a loss in 2011 of 75 adult members through resignations, and a further 98 receiving leave of absence. In his report, Mr Hennessy blames the drop-off in members on "the financial crisis" and Lahinch facing the specific challenge of being a second club for the majority of members.

In response to the drop-off in membership, the club last year slashed entrance fees for new members from €25,000 to €10,000 and also proposed a new intermediate category of membership.

Contingency fund

However, Mr Hennessy reported a 7pc increase in green fee income to €1.13m last year – the average green fee charged by the club declined by 38pc from €111 in 2008 to €69 in 2011.

Last year, the golf club transferred €1m of its reserves to a contingency fund "in the event of a material downturn in green fee revenue".

The increase in green fee income and a reduction in operating costs of €1m over four years contributed to the club increasing its operating profits last year by 38pc, from €97,626 to €135,132.

That figure was before income from membership fees was taken into account.

Irish Independent

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