Club Business Plan 2015-2020




This plan has been created by the Business Plan Committee in May 2015 following a workshop hosted by The Confederation of Golf in Ireland on 24/02/2015

Committee Members
Gerard Duffy – Captain
Margo Birmingham
Lady Captain
Ivan Fuery – Vice Captain
Jackie Ireland
Lady Vice-Captain
Barry Ramsay
Dermot Condon
Cynthia Fuery
Tom McDonagh


1.1 Introduction
Letterkenny Golf & Social Club celebrated its centenary in 2013. It is considered to be one of the best parkland courses in the North West, following the completion in 2008 of a €1.7m redevelopment and drainage programme. With commanding views of Lough Swilly, its 146 acres are tree-lined, picturesque and inhabited by wild-life. The clubhouse is modern and well-maintained and the restaurant and bar facilities are of a very high standard.
The club has 600 adult members, 20% being ladies who are all full members. There are 170 juveniles of which 10% are girls. It has a club professional and shop and on-line booking system is in place. Buggies are available from March to September. Practice facilities are in place and are considered adequate for the short to medium game. In 2011, the club was ranked 95th in top 100 courses in Ireland.
Other than Greens/Course maintenance staff, the club does not have paid employees. The potential benefits of employing a secretary/manager are appreciated and under ongoing consideration. Having both a Manager and a Club Professional might be ideal but the financial cost of both is considered prohibitive at this time.
Overall, the club is run day-to-day in quite an efficient fashion on a voluntary basis by various committee members. However, significant challenges remain – not the least of which is our inability to fully service our bank loan under its original terms and conditions. In 2014, reduced loan repayments were negotiated and agreed with the Bank which arrangement is to be reviewed again in 2016.
This 5-year business plan is being put in place to help us grow our income from membership, green fees and other income and to help us control our costs in order to ensure we have sufficient cash flow available for ongoing course development and to meet our financial commitments to our bankers and other creditors. We are already doing many of the right things but having a formalised business plan in place will provide a more structured approach to achieving our objectives and a method of measuring our progress against plan on an ongoing basis.
The club is a Golf and Social Club. However, given its size and challenges, we have got to operate like a business if we are to continue to be successful. Presently the management structure is made up of a Council with 19 members under which there is “Men’s Club” committee of 12 and a “Ladies Club” committee of 12. A study will be undertaken as to how matters might be streamlined – while remaining in tune with the requirements of members. Templates from other clubs are a feature of the evaluation.
It is anticipated that the business plan may be studied and read by various parties such as our Committees of Management, Club Trustees, Club Bankers, potential external stakeholders such as Failte Ireland along with the general membership.
A copy of the completed business plan will be emailed to all members and bound copies will also be available in the clubhouse.

1.2 Situation Analysis

SWOT Analysis
1) High-quality and scenic course
2) Modern clubhouse – with excellent restaurant, bar and parking facilities
3) Proximity to large growing urban population and numerous hotels
4) Existing large membership base – adult and juvenile – established juvenile programme
5) High participation level and interest in inter-club competitions
6) Club Professional – with shop in place.

1) Bank debt unsustainable against present levels of Income & Expenditure.
2) Trend of declining income from – membership, green fees & societies, and competition entries
3) Practice – limited practice area located away from the clubhouse, no driving range on site; no pitch and putt in the locality
4) Membership recruitment – very weak in the 18 to 30 age group, – many golfers living locally are not members, being members of other clubs and/or societies, – low success rate in achieving transfer from juvenile to adult membership
5) Lack of disabled access to bar and restaurant which is located on 1st. floor.
6) 5 Year contract in place from 2011 with Club Professional with no evidence of anticipated growth in membership or green fee income from the outlay involved.
7) Ongoing need for fundraising initiatives to boost normal income.

1) Located in a growing population area.
2) Strong potential to grow membership from youth and retired sectors of population.
3) Capitalise on the growing popularity of golf – the Rory McIlroy Factor.
4) Capitalise on sporting celebrities who are members, they being key influencers of our youth population especially.
5) Develop relationships with local hotels and driving range for mutual benefit.
6) Examine whether existing membership categories can be increased/altered or improved in order to optimise participation and revenues.
7) Develop fully and improve social media marketing of the club.
8) Potential to grow our on-line Lotto membership to boost fundraising income.

1) Changing weather patterns leading to seasonal participation by many members.
2) Significant maintenance costs due to parkland course located in an area with very wet winter climate.
3) Competition from many local clubs – links versus parkland.
4) Public perception of golf clubs as being elitist and expensive compared to other sports activities.
5) Competition from many local active golf societies – society handicap system –cheaper to play in a society than join a club.

Recent trends

To get an understanding of our club’s situation we have identified the following recent financial and membership trends at our club:

1) Membership levels are being maintained but the category of membership has changed –some 10% more beginner members and some 10% less full members currently = less membership income.
2) Reduced monthly repayments agreement with the bank in place for two years from 2014 – with potential to negotiate extension for a further period.
3) Commercial 5-year lease in place for bar and restaurant facility since 2014 will generate a new income source going forward.
4) Competition entry fee increase recently passed by committee will increase income.
5) Green fees and societies income reduced significantly from 2013 to 2014
6) New fundraising initative launched in Qtr 4 2014 being Club Online Lotto

Year                                    2012          2013           2014
Subs Income                    €275,000    €267,000    €255,000
Green fee income             €28,000     €29,000     €25,000
Total member No’s             565               574              585
% members aged 65+        28%              26%             25%
Competitions income     €63,000     €69,000     €68,000


Many organisations have a vision, mission or values statement. If you don’t subscribe to this modern business language then, in simple terms, what is your purpose? Why does your club even exist?

2.1 Our purpose

The mission of Letterkenny Golf Club is to provide an excellent Golf experience.

This will be accomplished by:

1) Presenting and maintaining our Golf Course to a consistently high standard, while maintaining its natural character.

2) Retaining our identity as a true golf club, welcoming those who share our values of a challenging course with good playing conditions.

3) Making our club enjoyable, accessible and affordable for all our members, their families and our guests.


This section is how our Club will achieve its purpose. For each of our Golf Club’s core areas, we have identified:

A strategy statement; how this core area will contribute to our overall Club Purpose.

Smart Objectives; what we are seeking to achieve in this Core Area

Initiatives; the ideas, projects and activities that will help us achieve our SMART Objectives

The essential core areas are:

1. Membership Recruitment
2. Membership Retention
3. Governance
4. Finances

3.1 Recruitment

Strategy Statement

To actively recruit new members

SMART Objectives
Specific- Measurable-Achievable-Realistic-Timed

1. To grow our Subscription income by 10% annually.
2. Continue with and actively promote 1st year, 2nd year and 3rd year beginner category of members
3. Create public awareness of the Golf Club by arranging and implementing a marketing drive.

1. Arrange an Information Day in local Shopping Centre – schedule for 17/04/2015
2. Arrange promotion visits to local Companies, Hospitals, Schools, College.
3. Follow up with Open Day in Golf Club – schedule for 10/05/2015.
4. Compile a list of past members known to be members elsewhere and actively approach to re-join by promoting our direct debit option of paying subscription fee.

3.2 Retention

Strategy Statement

To work actively to ensure we retain existing members.

SMART Objectives
Specific- Measurable-Achievable-Realistic-Timed

1. Reduce the existing level of annual memberships not renewed by 10% per year over the coming five years.
2. Ensure our members enjoy the “membership experience” in Letterkenny Golf Club so that they all consider themselves to be valued and appreciated members of our club.
3. Annual survey of membership to be carried out by end of April each year by way of questionnaire with feedback on results of survey to be communicated back to members.
4. Communication channels with members to be improved through more regular use of social media, newsletters & information evenings. Improvements to be monitored from responses to communications questions in annual membership surveys.


1. Compile and complete a membership questionnaire to establish how our members feel about existing membership experience and how the club is being managed on a day to day basis in order to obtain feedback & opinions on what we need to do better in order to retain members.
2. Hold information evening and publish a newsletter/bulletin to give results and feedback to members on what changes and initiatives are going to be implemented as a response to the questionnaire results.
3. Improve communication between management and members by issuing summary minutes of Men’s Club & Ladies Club Committee meetings by email and by posting on notice boards.
4. In the event of any significant changes/initiatives being undertaken on the course or in committee/management/staff areas communicate details to members by email or otherwise in a timely manner.

3.3 Governance

Strategy Statement

Grow and build our Golf Club on the platform of professional, open and transparent governance and management

SMART Objectives
Specific- Measurable-Achievable-Realistic-Timed

1. Identify areas requiring improvement in annual self-assessment survey of committee members and action same with a view to achieving improvements and improved score in following year’s survey.
2. Analysis of results of member’s questionnaire to be discussed at all three committees with appropriate actions to be taken by relevant committees/individuals to address problem areas or issues identified. Responsibility for ensuring actions are agreed and actioned to be with chairperson of each committee.
3. Research to be carried out by Business Plan group during 2015 to identify all available skills/experience among existing and potential committee members with a view to compiling a list of suitable people in various areas that can be approached whenever committee vacancies and/or specific short term voluntary job needs are identified.
4. Job Specification lists for all major committee positions to be compiled during 2015 by voluntary group of experienced past/present committee members with a view to having same available to provide clarity around responsibilities and expectations of each role for future incumbents.


1. Self-assessment survey to be carried out among all members of Parent, Gent and Lady Committees twice yearly.
2. Working group to be formed to do a cost/benefit analysis of club employing an Administrator/General Manager on a fulltime or partime basis with findings to be reported back to Council by 30/09/2015.
3. Same Working group to examine cost/benefit analysis of Club Professional position being retained beyond present contract expiry date (03/2016) in conjunction with possible or necessary operating changes that might apply to Club Shop & Trolley/Buggy hire facilities if present arrangements are altered or not renewed.
4. Practice to be introduced whereby departing committee members provide mentoring and/or training to their replacements for an agreed period to ensure smooth transfer of responsibilities and skills.

3.4 Finances


Strategy Statement
Grow our income figures across all areas to ensure we can continue to develop our course while at the same time meeting our financial commitments to our bankers and other creditors.

SMART Objectives
Specific- Measurable-Achievable-Realistic-Timed

1. Achieve growth of 10% annually in Subscription Income.
2. Achieve growth of 15% in competition fee income in 2015 and 5% annually thereafter.
3. Achieve growth of 10% annually in Green fee/Society fee income.
4. Identify, develop and grow other sources of income such as income from Bar/Restaurant, Shebeen, Shop, Lotto, and other fundraising activities

1. Impose €1 price increase per competition entry in 2015.
2. Recruitment & retention of members drive to be implemented annually by undertaking initiatives as specified under Section 3.1 & 3.2
3. Job specification of any employee or agent employed under initiatives No 2 & 3 in Section 3.3 to include target for growing Green fee/Society income annually.
4. Existing Fund raising subcommittee to examine initial take up records of Club Lotto among members with a view to identifying where further growth can be achieved and implementing initiatives to achieve same.


4.1 Accountability
Having completed our plan we have reflected upon who will be expected to carry it out successfully. For each of our Club’s Core Areas here are the responsible people, who will help them and how we will monitor progress:

Core Area of Our Club Person Accountable Supported By How will you measure progress?

1. Membership Recruitment – Jackie Ireland
Sub-committee to be put in place by Jackie
Sub-committee to meet regularly (e.g. monthly) and to provide feedback report on progress being made to overall Business Plan committee at quarterly meeting

2. Membership Retention -Ivan Fuery
Sub-committee to be put in place by Ivan Sub-committee to meet regularly (e.g. monthly) and to provide feedback report on progress being made to overall Business Plan committee at quarterly meeting

3. Club Governance – Barry Ramsay
Sub-committee to be put in place by Barry Sub-committee to meet regularly (e.g. monthly) and to provide feedback report on progress being made to overall Business Plan committee at quarterly meeting

4. Finances – Tom McDonagh
Sub-committee to be put in place by Tom Sub-committee to meet regularly (e.g. monthly) and to provide feedback report on progress being made to overall Business Plan committee at quarterly meeting

5. The One-Page Plan

Without today’s actions, we cannot achieve our Club’s Purpose. This page contains the immediate actions that will be undertaken to achieve our Business Plan, the person responsible, and when it will be done by. This one page plan will be monitored monthly and updated quarterly to ensure a continuing focus on development.


Action – By Whom? By When?

Self-assessment survey to be carried out yearly among members of all three management committees commencing from 2015 – Margo Birmingham, Barry Ramsay and Tom McDonagh. Quarter one each year.

Arrange an Information Day in a local Shopping Centre or other suitable location to promote awareness of membership options and opportunities among the general public – Ivan Fuery, Jackie Ireland and Cynthia Fuery. On 17/04/2015 and annually thereafter.

Compile and complete a membership questionnaire to obtain feedback & opinions from members about their membership experience and the day to day management of the club – Ivan Fuery, Cynthia Fuery and Dermot Condon. In Summer 2015 and annually thereafter.

Lotto & Fundraising committees to work together to examine success to date and potential to further grow take up of Club Online Lotto among members and friends – Tom McDonagh, John Bowe and Anne Condon. August 2015 and ongoing.

Working group to be formed to examine feasibility & do a cost/benefit analysis of club employing or retaining on a partime or fulltime basis a Manager/Administrator/Professional with a view to maximizing income from all existing and new sources of activity – Barry Ramsay, Tom McDonagh, Colin Morrow and Chris Nee. September 2015.