From: Andrew Brown
It was with great sadness that I read news about Eastbourne Downs Golf Club having money troubles.
It is no surprise. The problem is not unique to Eastbourne.
Many golf clubs in the UK are struggling with fewer members, a rapidly diminishing number of junior players coming through the ranks and an attachment to old school thinking.
In Eastbourne, a relatively small town, we have three 18 hole courses on our doorstep and a nine hole course, not to mention numerous other courses on our borders. Supply outstrips demand.
Eastbourne Downs Golf Club has been slow to adapt to the challenges.
They need to rip up the old and embrace the new.
First, they must put a focus on selling the venue for just about anything other than golf.
Weddings, parties, lunch and dinners, other events, that’s where the money is – grab some of the Sunday lunch pound.
Golfing occasions should fit in with the external bookings. Not the other way round.
Second, re-engineer the fees to play golf. Put a primary focus on pay to play.
For serious golfers who want the competitions and regular golf bring in a seasonal offer that recognises April to September as peak golf time on the downland and October to March as off peak.
Thirdly, look at the clubhouse. Make it a multi-use hub, sell drinks and food to the thousands of people who walk, run and cycle in the area.
And with the right investment you could add hotel rooms for this market.
Finally, they must utilise their position on the busy coast road more professionally.
The signage is appalling. The banners they use are cheap, nasty and ineffective.
The golf course itself is stunning. With the sun out and a gentle breeze there is nowhere better, so they boast a great USP.
The golfers and, most importantly, the employees, will be feeling very bruised right now but I think there are opportunities here.