ABBEYDALE GOLF CLUB LIMITED
MINUTES OF THE 75th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
HELD AT ABBEYDALE GOLF CLUB @ 7.00 pm ON TUESDAY 10 May 2018
Present: Mr PG Bellamy in the Chair with 84 members present.
Apologies received from 139 members.
The Chairman opened the Meeting and welcomed attending members.
The meeting observed a moments silence in memory of members and past members who had died during the year –
Stuart Sendall Roy Allott Alan Bamford Dorothy Wharton
David Marsden John James John Bertoni Laurie Mulhearn
John Oliver Jack Goddard
553 NOTICE OF THE MEETING
The Golf Manager read out the Notice of the Meeting.
The proposal of a Special Resolution to amend the Articles of Association to add the Golf Professional as an Ex Officio Board Member was postponed until a general meeting later this year as an error in the numbering was apparent, plus other amendments may need to be proposed.
554 MINUTES OF THE LAST ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The Chairman asked the Meeting to approve the Minutes of the last Annual General Meeting held on 11 May 2017 which had been displayed on the notice board and available for reading from the Secretary’s office four weeks prior to the Meeting.
No matters arising
The Chairman proposed the minutes be accepted as a true record and were signed and dated.
Proposed by: G Wilkinson Seconded by: P Waller
555 CHAIRMAN’S REPORT
Last year I divided my report into sections concerning Membership, Catering, Finance, Projects, the Course and the Management/Professional team and structure. I intend to adopt the same format.
Despite the continued pressure on golf clubs both nationally and locally our membership numbers have held up and the outlook for 2018 is that we will remain at a constant level, sufficient it is hoped to achieve the targeted membership income shown in the budget approved by the Board. There are still vacancies at all levels, but only some 8/9 new members are needed throughout the year to bring us up to budget numbers, and this means the Board are not currently looking to any fresh strategies such as those adopted by some local clubs nor to relax the joining fee. We continue to receive steady and consistent enquiries for membership.
Each year Nigel produces a membership analysis. It will come as no surprise there is a constant increase in the average age of the playing membership. Across both male and female members core numbers are in the 50-80 age group and we have almost as many members in the 80-84 category as 45-50. The highest numbers are in the 55-65 age group. Efforts continue to attract new members in the 25-45 age range and for ladies of playing ability across all age groups.
Overall the balance sheet is healthy as is the cash position. Last year saw a 16% increase in entrance fees as well as a 25% increase in green fees following poor performance over previous years. Overall income improved by 6%. Bar and catering had their problems, well publicised. Bar sales fell significantly by 13% and although catering sales increased slightly, costs also rose significantly with the obvious impact on profits. Social activity results [a decline] are indicative of the falling support from members for activities outside golf. In terms of expenditure all budget holders performed well against budget, Greens and Comps reduced expenditure by 5%, House 11%. There is no doubt that efforts on tighter cash control and increased income have led to a healthy trading position, but the poor performance of catering and bar cannot be overlooked, and will continue to be a focus of attention for the Board as well as the House& Social committee.
During 2017 the Board discussed and developed a project wish list. The most advanced of those projects is the Golf Studio & Storage facility. I do not propose to comment in detail as discussions as a result of the recent meeting and member feedback are ongoing and have been subject to a recent member update following the Board review on the 20th April. What however proved helpful was the significant number of constructive views shared to Nigel and myself, both verbally and by e-mail. Those views have caused the Board to undertake a review of the project and it’s financing in discussions with our Architect and of course the Professionals, before moving forward to the next stage. It will be for the new Board to keep members updated as I am sure they will do. Other projects in the wish list concern; (a) the external fabric of the Club house especially the roof. Following a specialist survey all was not doom and gloom and relatively modest repairs are underway as opposed to the feared full roof renewal.(b) In the not too distant future repair and/renewal will be required to the tarmac on the drive and lower car parking area. Members will also be aware of the exploratory work currently being undertaken close to the entrance to Roger Glew’s house and which will need to be completed and the drainage repaired before re-surfacing takes place. (c)There is a clearly identified need for internal clubhouse refurbishment including flooring, the bay window carpet and furnishings. (d) Outdoor furnishing require replacement and (e) at some stage the boilers which date well back, may require replacement. (f) The upstairs bar was highlighted as a project for 2017 by the Captains, Larry and Angela. Members will be aware that although this is to proceed it is without any contribution from the 2017 Captains which is a disappointment. Nonetheless it is seen as a necessary and worthwhile project to attract full use of the upstairs facilities not just by members but for external functions. (g) Larry has kindly assisted in obtaining the new generator for the HWH and the provision of a housing for it. The Board is very grateful for his assistance and the time he has given. As a consequence, the board was able to finalise agreement for the franchising of the Halfway House. (h) The Golf Manager and others are looking at ways to improve or at least ensure our computer systems (which at present require multiple entry to be made) work more efficiently as well as examining other systems such as Intelligent Golf. (i) Finally, there was discussion (which is still ongoing) on upgrading and renewing the paths on the course particularly those on the 4th,5th,8th,11th 15th and 17th.
Whilst it is hoped some of these items can be accommodated out of budget, the reality is the cost of some is simply prohibitive at present.
As ever this is fundamental, not just to the members but to visitors. We are indeed fortunate to have in Allan Donlevy a first-class greenkeeper and who has gained the respect in a very short period of time of members and has revitalised and enthused the green staff. The course has undergone significant changes and improvement over the past 12 months. These improvements have received positive comments from members and visitors alike and are responsible for the healthy upturn in green fee income last year. The chairman of green, Dr Graham Davies has recently submitted his report to the club and Allan has recently circulated his report following his first full year so I do not propose to comment further. We have also received in past few weeks a positive and encouraging course review by Gordon Irvine, shortly to be circulated. The club is fortunate to have such a committed chairman of green and a first-class greenkeeper and support staff.
Despite a lot of hard work, the figures for bar and catering remain disappointing. The Board are well aware that year on year losses are unacceptable. In 2017 footfall was down, wages increased due in part to increase in minimum wage and pension provision as well as early year complaints over food quality, quantity and cost. There was improvement in all areas in the second half of the year, but there is still much to be done to convince members to use the catering facilities and to increase footfall if the operation, in terms of members is to wash its face. House and social committee continue to try new ideas to persuade members to make more use of the club and attend its social functions. Out of a playing membership of over 450 and a total membership of almost 700 it is disappointing so few members [and generally the same groups] are able to support organised functions. It may be time for a radical rethink on what members really want, or expect, in terms of catering and social events. In the meantime, it is hoped that the significant improvement in the quality and range of food supplied will tempt members back, as well as attracting outside functions with the provision of an upstairs bar.
I reported last year of the appointment of a new professional and coaching team. Richard and Gareth continue to increase their reputation in terms of teaching and coaching. Tom Perry has now joined the staff. Members will have seen the steady growth in juniors attending for coaching which can only bode well for the future.
Every year I comment on the fact that the club could simply not survive and prosper without all those who give of their time and energies so freely, not just those on the Board but those who serve on committees, assist in running the teams, and those who are simply on hand to help when they get the call from Nigel or myself. I cannot overstate the indebtedness of the club to those people, and at times it is frustrating to hear unwarranted criticism vented towards those people from members who should know better.
Finally, as this is my last report as Chairman I wish to thank Nigel, all members of the Boards over the past 8 years and those members who have helped me with their time and assistance over a whole range of matters. At times it seems a thankless task, and much goes on of which members are unaware; there have been tricky decisions to make and thorny problems to resolve. I firmly believe that after 2/3 terms it is time to step down and no longer be responsible for the fact the lights don’t work in the gentlemen’s changing room, or that the clock on the first tee tells the wrong time. I have tried to maintain and improve the communication from Board to members and progress to more transparency in decision making whilst at the same time respecting the traditions and values of the club. I am grateful for the support I have received from the Board and the management and staff of the Club.
Restaurant bar – Dr Atkinson passed on his view that from experience he felt that the provision of an upstairs bar would not be successful as it had been tried previously and then removed.
Club expenditure – Dr Atkinson supported the proposal from Mike Pestereff which had also been signed by 23 members suggesting that a change be made to the Articles of Association to stipulate that any spending totalling over £50k over a 5 year period would be approved by the membership.
PB indicated that the suggestion had been seriously considered by the Board but had thereafter been rejected. PB has responded to Mike in correspondence. PB read from the correspondence referred to:
‘It has always been the convention [albeit unwritten] of the Club for as long as I can recall that members have been consulted on large expenditure or major projects and where necessary subject to an informal meeting and discussion process. Whether under my chairmanship or in the future the present Board see no reason for that approach to change. While the thinking behind the proposal was understandable it was felt that such a constraint on a board of directors elected by members was neither appropriate or necessary.
If, in the future, members do not like any proposed projects or wish to raise concerns there is, and always has been, a process within the Articles to raise a challenge, assuming of course that informal approaches have not proved fruitful. To otherwise place constraints on the decision-making powers of the board would curtail and slow down an effective decision-making process which has served the Club well for many years.’
PB commented further: The Board is of course always accountable to the members and is elected by the members to make decisions on behalf of the members. To put constraints on the decision making of the Board is to curtail and slow down the effective decision-making process and it is clear that this would be a retrograde step.
Questions from the floor
Finance – concern raised re the first loss on bar and catering in many years and hopes that the Board have measures in place to remedy the situation. He also felt that future spending on these facilities i.e. the upstairs bar should only be financed from profit made from the operation.
PB felt that the food and service provided had improved immensely, but Rosie and her team were fully aware that it was not acceptable to keep haemorrhaging money and that there might be a time when a radical overhaul becomes necessary. They are constantly trying to regain member support to increase income.
Car Park Rent – requestedconfirmation of current situation.
PB confirmed the current rental of the top car park to be £7k rising to £9.3 fixed over 10 years on a 25 year lease, after which would be up for re-negotiation.
Club Expenditure –The proposal re limiting Board spending to £50k was again raised.
PB firmly believed that the membership needed to trust the Board never to over commit the club financially and felt that a restriction on spending would hinder the general running of the club. Major projects, for example the golf studio had rightly been presented to the membership and all constructive comments have been collated and will be seriously considered.
Finance – Tony asked for assurance that consultation would be made to the membership on future large projects as he could not remember any discussion taking place when the restaurant and kitchen were refurbished.
PB could not respond on this issue as it was prior to his term of office however confirmed that the proposed cost of the new bar would be circa £14.5k plus vat.
Phil proposed that a member referendum take place prior to any further action on the golf studio.
PB felt this might be considered but would be concerned that sufficient response would not be forthcoming as only 41 members had submitted comments after the recent studio plans had been put to the membership. He trusted the new Board would deal effectively with all aspects of the plans going forward.
Jed thanked the Board for the work they do and the support and compassion given to him during his term of office. He requested clarification on the decision made by 2017 Captains not to donate a percentage of monies raised during the year to a club project as promised to members at their inaugural speech in January.
PB confirm that this was the case and although he had tried to encourage the Captains to re-consider, the decision had been made to pay the charity the £9.5k raised in view of the fact the restaurant bar may not be completed until later this year.
Angela Lord and Larry Melrose responded to the question confirming that their intention had in fact been to give 50% of the money to the club to fund part of the cost of the restaurant bar. It had also been their suggestion that an effective cost reduction would be obtained by offering their preferred builders a membership and 1st year’s subscription in lieu of installation leaving around £5k to be funded by the club. Larry also shared with the meeting how the first half of his year had been marred by issues with a member not being resolved quickly, losing him much support and leaving no time to organise a large fund raising event. It was also suggested that the Board had not made a decision on the installation of the new bar quickly enough. Larry indicated that there was a further £3k which had been collected but not passed on to the Captains, which he indicated the Club could retain. Angela indicated that it had been agreed that some of the funds collected during the year would go to the bar project, but that was to come from a particular event, which was not actually held.
PB responded to the points raised explaining that any new member would have to be accepted through the normal procedure and that no applications had been received. He also clarified that plans for the bar expected during 2017 had not been presented to the Board by the 2017 Captains until January 2018.
Sue felt that any monies raised by the Captains should always go to the nominated charity and not be used to fund club projects.
Tony questioned whether Social members of the club were able to vote at the AGM. PB confirmed that they were not.
Jay felt that health and safety within the club was paramount but asked how projects were prioritised and did the Board stick to the plan once a decision has been made.
PB confirmed that the course would always take priority and the budgets set for special priorities projects were carefully monitored when planning for the future.
556 DIRECTORS ANNUAL REPORT & ACCOUNTS
Copy of the Directors’ Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended
31 December 2017 has been available to members for the requisite number of days. As no matters arising the Chairman asked that the Reports and Accounts be proposed and taken as read.
Proposed: PG Bellamy Seconded: B Stokes All in Favour: Carried
557 ELECTION OF DIRECTORS
Peter Bellamy retired by rotation.
There remains open positions for 2 General Directors for which it was pleasing to see 3 members were standing.
Angela Lord Proposer: Gill MacdonaldSeconded: Sue Meggitt
Peter Stafford Proposer: Simon WrightSeconded: John Snape
Simon Wright Proposer: Tony ColemanSeconded: Tim Jackson
After a vote which included 132 proxy forms -
Simon Wright (145) Angela Lord (115) Pete Stafford (103)
Simon and Angela were elected to the Board.
ELECTION OF VICE CHAIRMAN
K Gower, proposed by P Newton seconded by D Bond and elected Vice Chairman of Comps.
D Muhley, proposed by G Davies seconded M Millbourn and elected Vice Chairman of Green.
Peter Bruce, proposed by Rosie Fry seconded Jane Morris and elected Vice Chairman of House.
The Chairman thanked all retirees for their time and commitment and welcomed new members to the Board and committees.
558 ANNUAL REPORTS OF COMMITTEES
The Annual Reports of the Green Committee, House Committee and Ladies Section had been available prior to the meeting. The Competitions Committee Report will be given at the Prize Presentation Evening on Thursday 29 November 2018.
The Chairman proposed acceptance of the Reports –
Seconded byJim Fotheringhamand unanimously accepted.
559 ELECTION OF CAPTAIN AND VICE-CAPTAIN
The Chairman confirmed that the Men’s Vice Captain for the remainder of 2018 will be John Snape following the resignation of John Hespe. Craig Smith supported this election and introduced John to the meeting with a very positive resume supported by the attendees of the meeting.
John thanked the Board and members, gratefully accepted the position and confirmed that John Hespe and his family were all well and his resignation had been a sad decision.
The Chairman advised that the election of the Captains’ and Vice Captains for 2019 will take place at the Prize Presentation evening on Thursday 29 November 2018.
560 ELECTION OF AUDITORS
Messrs Barber, Harrison & Platt were re-elected for the ensuing year at a fee to be agreed by the Directors, unanimously accepted by the meeting.
561 A. O. B.
No matters arising
562 VOTE OF THANKS
The Chairman thanked everyone for their attendance.
The President thanked the Chairman for his time on the Board during which his professional capacity had been invaluable to the club. He also thanked all Board members for their time and dedication to the support of the Club, which, for much of the time goes unnoticed.
The meeting closed at 20.40 pm.