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An update from the CEO

Thursday 07, May 2020
Paul Vardy, Chief Executive Officer

Golf clubs sit across many industries. The Coronavirus has brought this into focus.

The past couple of weeks for GMA has been budgeting and forecasting, talking with our corporate partners, industry governing bodies, and planning with GMA’s board and GMA staff about what the 2020/21 year will bring. Whilst there are many things to work on in the short term, in the medium term it looks unclear with a large number of GMA activities being deferred into 2021 with impacts flowing into 2022!

I get the sense that golf, in general, is not too badly off. Golf rounds on both public and private courses are thriving under current conditions (although, sadly not in Victoria as yet). Is this a renaissance for golf with all the extra time people have away from commuting and other sports? A discussion at the Australian Golf Industry Council this week was around how we can invest in golf promotion whilst these conditions exist. A campaign is being planned.

The Coronavirus conditions have exposed golf as being quite unique to the sporting landscape. We are sport and recreation, we are hospitality, we are tourism, we are health (mental and physical), we are environment, nature and turf management. And, of course, we are clubs.

The various operational restrictions affect different aspects of our business in different ways. Yet, if we're allowed to play golf and maintain our courses, we can get by quite well. We’re naturally pre-disposed to social distancing and we don’t rely on the coordination of other clubs for leagues or draws in order to compete. So, it seems, golf for now is booming. For a wider perspective on what was happening in Australian sport and in golf in more normal times, be sure to check out the latest Ausplay results and trends, based on 2019 data.

Despite some positives, quite a few managers have said the last month or so has been the most difficult time in their careers. Managers have lost the control that comes with the club routines. Managers instinctively know where things should be at and can work accordingly, paying most attention to the things that are in most need of addressing. That’s all changed. Being on constant alert to review everything in the short and medium terms can be energy zapping. There’s an uneasy feeling that something could be missed, or that you could be expected to be doing more. Then, there are the endless options of things that could be done, but it turns out that in reality few of them are really feasible or value adding.  

So hats off to all GMA members for getting through this as best you can.

Pick up the phone and chat

Emails, text messages and social media can never replicate a voice. According to Celest Headlee, the power of the human voice is really underestimated. The human voice activates the pleasure centres in the brain and increases your sense of belongingness. This is a big deal psychologically.  After shelter, food/water and safety, the number one human need to survive is belongingness. 

So, when the stress builds up during a difficult day on the job, a talk to someone face to face, or a chat on the phone is very important.  

The ‘loneliness epidemic’ is a thing. It’s a big issue with people, particularly older people at this time. Headlee suggests if people don’t fulfil the need of belongingness, they will have health consequences leading to premature death. “Loneliness degrades your internal organs” she says.  Well, when you say it like that, we’d better pick up the phone and save some lives!

There may be some members who feel the need to stay in some form of self-isolation until a vaccine is available or who might just avoid people. These people need a call from the club.

There are tonnes of good ideas being created by managers to show they care. Here’s just one. With casual bar or catering staff often the most loved by members, who better to do the phone calls to some of the older members than these people.  With no drinks or food to serve and a healthy JobKeeper subsidy keeping them afloat, here’s a job that can add real value to the club!

Support your club campaign

Clubs need their members to renew their membership. A video campaign, created by Golf Australia and released this week, has two key messages:

  • Golf clubs exist for their members; and
  • If you can, support your club and renew today. 

The unbranded video puts the focus on the message - a message delivered authentically by club members themselves.  It’s something we can all proudly share in our clubs to our members.

View the video

Golf Australia's Marketing Support Program

GMA Podcast

In the latest GMA podcast, brought to you by MiClub, we hear the unpacking of a range of club management issues such as:

  • membership renewals
  • preparing for re-opening
  • using this as an opportunity to change the way the club operates
  • opportunities for the sport of golf
  • the value of club membership, and more

It’s a great listen and thanks to Peter Busch (Green Acres GC), Mark Tan (Mount Osmond GC) and Rod Morri for the discussion.  

Thanks to those who have have joined our podcasts so far. The podcasts are going to become more of a feature of GMA in the future.

Listen to the latest GMA Podcast

Webinar Series

A webinar series is up and running with Golf Management Australia working with Golf Australia on the topics. The Webinar series is provided free of charge. You may like to encourage registrations by staff or board members, depending on the topic.

Hosted by people with some expertise in the subject matter and with some context around the changes experienced at present from the Coronavirus, the first topics are:

  • Cashflow survival
  • Marketing for membership renewal

These will be held over the next few weeks. A governance topic is in the pipeline for soon after with the world’s leading expert on sports governance, Professor David Shilbury.

Golf Australia's Webinar Series

Support the companies that support us!

GMA is fortunate to have a range of fantastic corporate partners who provide funds to allow us the range of bursaries, networking and education events that we benefit from.

We ask all GMA members to keep them in mind and find out more about their products and services. Get familiar with the logos at the bottom of this EDM!  

All clubs need to review their operations and here are a couple of pertinent messages from two of our partners:

GMA Winter Journal

The winter edition of the GMA Journal is scheduled for publication in mid-June. We’d love some contributions from members, so if you would like to send something in, please get in touch. 

Here’s one of some (unnamed) club staff playing with ducks!

Don't forget to check the GMA website

Information is regularly updated on the Industry News page, in the Member Discussion Forums and Resource Library, and on the Member Assistance Program.


Talking earlier about sharing to members, to speed up the process of getting notified if you've possibly been exposed to COVID19, the Australian Government has released the new COVIDSafe app.

It’s up to the individual as to whether they want to participate, but the feeling across the golf bodies via AGIC is that this app can only be a good thing. It may be worth raising in the next message you send to your members.

Find out more