Having taken a €0.5million hit last year to stage the Irish Open, Lahinch Golf Club is now preparing for a loss of over €2 million in green fee business this season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With international travel grounded, particularly from the States which would be a strong market for Lahinch, the grim financial outlook on green fee revenue was outlined to members in the past week by club chairman, Martin O’Sullivan who also emphasised that sales at the golf shop will also be severely impacted.
“Green fee income has been severely affected by the pandemic. Projected green fee revenue from guests of members and possibly some visitors later in the year has been reduced by €2.4million to just over €100,000.
“The reduction on visitor numbers will also have a direct impact on golf shop sales which has been reduced by 85% (€825,000),” he cautioned.
Mr O’Sullivan said the club does not expect any overseas visitors before mid-August as hotels and other accommodation providers cannot open until July 20 at the earliest under the government’s roadmap for reopening society and business.
On top of that, all persons entering the country are currently required to self-isolate for a period of 14-days.
“If these restrictions remain, it is highly unlikely that we will be welcoming any overseas visitors to Lahinch this year. This will review the back end of the season in July as the situation continues to evolve on a daily and weekly basis,” he said.
On a more positive note, Mr O’Sullivan confirmed that approximately 90% of green fee visitors, scheduled to play the Old Course between April and July inclusive, have agreed to reschedule their trip to 2021.
According to Mr O’Sullivan this decision has “had a positive impact on the club’s projected cash flow for the remainder of the year”.
Another positive is that up to mid-August, both golf courses will be open to members and, when appropriate, members will be able to bring guests.
As regards employment, the club joined the Government’s Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme up to the end of June and Mr O’Sullivan pointed out that for the season ahead, the number of seasonal staff required across all areas of the club “will be severely curtailed and seasonal staff will only be employed when there is a requirement based on health and safety and/or to comply with HSE guidelines”.
He said that all cost centres across the club have also been reviewed and expenditure has been reduced by over €900,000 (30%) for the year.
Mr O’Sullivan explained that the development of the halfway facility on the Old Course and work within the Castle Course car park area had already commenced prior to lockdown. These programmes will be completed over the next few weeks, but all other capital projects have been postponed.
He said that as the annual fleet replacement for course machinery had already taken place in January, the total capital expenditure budget for the year had been reduced by over 50% to €250,000.
“While the Council fully acknowledges the frustration of members who are currently unable to use the club facilities, it is important that we continue to maintain both courses and all other facilities at the club. We require our full-time staff to carry out essential work on site and to engage with the many visitors looking to reschedule their golf trip over the next year or two.
“Council is very conscious of the financial cost to the club at a time when we have lost a significant amount of revenue. For this reason, there are no plans to rebate or reduce the annual subscriptions for 2020 as it is more important than ever that we maintain our annual subscriptions this year,” he added.