Charles Giddins, former golf pro and director of the company which held the lease of the clubhouse and course at Beauport Park from 2005 until July last year gives HIP his thoughts on how Roger Hyder can get the club and course back on track

What the Beauport Park club needed to find was a new but experienced operator, not just someone ‘having a go at running a golf course’. I have known Roger for over 30 years. He helped me out behind the scenes when I was running Beauport, and I am sure he will do an excellent job. He should have come in a year ago! I am also very pleased for greenkeepers Eric Green and Glyn Pollard.

Revenue streams at Beauport include membership fees (from a very loyal group of members); casual green fees from a significant number of visitors; buggies; the driving range; and a golf academy. The advantage of having a PGA professional running the facility is that he can also head up the academy and not have to bring in a third party. A food and beverage facility is also required and can be profitable. It is really is all about understanding the requirements of your members and customers.

All who are familiar with the course know that it is a stunning location in the summer months; the winters, depending on the weather, can be challenging, to say the least. The clay soil makes maintenance very difficult, as the surface gets rock hard in the summer and very wet in the winter.  Eric Green has done a fantastic job with assistance from Glyn Pollard over the last 12 years on a limited budget.

Sadly the number of people taking up golf has declined in recent years, and the average membership of most of the neighbouring clubs is in the 66-69 age bracket. I suspect that Beauport is no different in this respect.  On the other hand the people who play get great benefits from it, not least to their health. Several members at Beauport in their 70s and 80s play a nine-hole round every weekday morning, which is in the region of a four mile walk.  I often joked that we should be subsided by the NHS for keeping people out of GP surgeries!

Third party on-line booking companies have been a particular contributor to the  decline in club memberships all over the country. Their sale of green fees for a fraction of the normal price devalues the loyal membership subscriptions covering the
full year. There is also a completely different regime of taxation and liability for business rates between proprietary clubs, which Beauport has always been, and member-run clubs: the latter get significant exemptions. That discrepancy is something that the government needs to look at .

On a bright note a recent survey indicates that golf participation is on the increase again. While we are still seeing a significant number of courses closing down, others are investing significantly in their facility, to the extent that members are having to book in advance to get a game.  I wish Roger best of luck in turning Beauport around.

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