Unlike many clubs, The Belfry have so far escaped course closures. But, continuing our series on how the rain has affected golf clubs, that’s not to say the weather hasn’t had an impact on the Ryder Cup venue
The fleet of buggies at The Belfry have been standing idle for much of the last two months. All 80 of them – a collection that would normally be in full use around the Derby, PGA National and Brabazon courses at the West Midlands venue.
Think how much it costs to hire a buggy. Times that by 80 and multiply it for every day they are stood down.
It doesn’t take long before it starts adding up to a significant amount of cash, lost revenue that only increases each time the rain falls in any quantity.
They’ve had a good year at the three-time Ryder Cup venue. Green fees are up, and they were recently again named World’s Best Golf Hotel at the World Golf Awards.
But a day at The Belfry is as much about the experience as what you do on the greens and, for some customers, hiring a buggy is part of the deal.
“We would normally estimate to get about half a metre of rainfall a year,” said director of golf Chris Reeve.
“We’re looking this year like we’re going to get about a metre. We’ve had no closures – one or two suspensions – but a lot of it is more to do with the stopping of buggy rentals, trolley hire and the on spend that goes with it.
“It’s a big chunk of money for us. We’ve got a fleet of 80 buggies and if you are renting 80 buggies out every day and you lose that for a couple of months it’s a big problem.
“Bear in mind, half of that additional rainfall has fallen since mid June. We’re only now just in early November. We were looking at the wettest September and October we’ve ever had.
“We also had some buggy bans in the summer months, which would be non-existent normally. September and October are huge months for us for buggy revenue and we lost a good chunk of days in September and nearly all of October. It’s a big problem.”
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Compare that with last year, where the buggies were still being employed at the Belfry in December.
“So think of the difference when you have those months where you have Champagne moments – ‘wow, you’re doing well with your equipment hire and hire lines’ and budgeting next year, it’s ‘chances are you are not going to get up to that’ but when you go from a big number to zero, that really hurts you,” Reeve added.
“It’s definitely a revenue thing and when it gets to extreme weather, you get to a point where ‘is it revenue, or is it reviews?’ There is definitely a balance of making sure you don’t tip it too far.
“You manage it as much as you can but, ultimately, it does reach tipping point where you can’t use them. It’s dangerous.
“You can still get golfers out. We’re open and we’ve managed the surfaces, tees and greens, sanding everywhere and drainage and making sure we can get surfaces as good as possible.
“It doesn’t have too much of a negative impact on what we’ll be doing next year but, yes, it hits hard financially and there aren’t ways of making that up within the golf department.”
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