Survey Questions Related to Downshire Complex

The Course

The course has seen some good improvements over the last year (e.g., removal of undergrowth, drainage clearance, etc) despite the challenges posed by COVID. Our members are also grateful for the time all the staff and you have undertaken to get the course to its current state. Your outline plan for course maintenance has also been well received. A good course attracts customers, and a bad course sends them away.

  1. Could you include in your newsletter what you intend to do re: – Blocked drainage channels not being cleared; Waterlogged pathways: Poor instigation of GUR signage on affected areas; Levelling off of some of the tee boxes; Cutting of the holes and deformation of profile; Some bunkers with insufficient sand and some uneven greens. 

We are coming up with a 5-year maintenance plan which will include Tee boxes, pathways and drainage. In the short term we are implementing some path repairs, have undertaken a complete ordinance survey of the course to help with drainage, are changing the positions of holes twice a week most weeks and using new hole cutting equipment We are also trying new treatments for the greens which should firm the surfaces and help with the holes staying sharper for longer. 

With regards to bunkers each golfer has a differing opinion of how much sand there should be in a bunker- so very subjective. I’d agree that a few do need a slight top up and this will be completed when we receive our next load. 

2. The driving range lacks many modern-day facilities eg distance measuring, swing wheel, etc. Are there plans to add any new facilities to the driving range?

            This is a subject that is in discussion, but I can’t give you any more information at present

3. Little use seems to be made of the pitch and putt course and the associated chip and putt area. Could this be publicised more?

P&P is used substantially but mainly at weekends by families and children. The P&P is also used by the pro’s and clubs for their junior clubs and academies and for teaching purposes including short game and bunker lessons.

Rangers

All of us do not like slow play particularly at the back of a large field. EGC are to reiterate our course etiquette rules (particularly those related to slow play) to all our members

  1. We feel that the Rangers could do more to stop slow play by patrolling the course and ensuring offending players address the problem. Could you emphasise this responsibility to the rangers?

The rangers do patrol the course and are often pulling up golfers for slow play. Sometimes a situation isn’t noticed in time to get things moving properly and they have been spoken to about this. I would like to say that apart from asking people to speed up or insisting people let others through there is often times they can do little else. All golfers have an onus to prevent slow play

Everyone Active & Bracknell Forest Council

The overall opinion is that Everyone Active involvement has been a backward step for The Complex and their sole purpose is profit. Not the best motive for a golf club. The course and clubhouse facilities being up to scratch are crucial to the success of both clubs. Better function facilities would make the club attractive to more weddings, wakes and other celebrations and this would not only significantly increase revenue but would also benefit members e.g. an upgraded restaurant service. Presumably this means regular review and consultation with Everyone Active and the Council to keep them on their toes.

I worked for BFC for many years prior to Everyoneactive and would argue that many issues are the same now as there was then. However, we are endeavouring to put many of the issues listed right. These things however take time and a pandemic coming along seriously hasn’t helped. I’m not going to say Everyoneactive isn’t interested in profit because all companies are but I’d disagree about being solely for profit. 

The complex needs to be profitable and it’s the profit which allows us to invest money on the things that are important to you guys. I’ll also point out that through the lockdowns all season ticket holders had their memberships frozen, or months added on even though maintenance was still being carried out and money was being spent; the majority of all private golf clubs gave their members nothing.

  1. Can you explain the roles and responsibilities for Everyone Active and Bracknell Forest Council and how your relationship and remit integrate with these?

I guess the easiest way to explain it is that EA are the tenant and BFC are the landlord. If you rented a house you’d do some decorating, buy a new TV and spend on things you’d benefit from, but you wouldn’t build an extension. Everyoneactive are responsible for reactive maintenance and the upkeep of the course. Larger investments that will benefit the course or complex past the time of EA’s lease are generally the responsibility of the council. We have a very good relationship with BFC and as mentioned we are in active discussions on works moving forward.

2. Can you share with us the plans these two organisations have for the Complex both the course and the Clubhouse buildings and surrounding area? Are there any plans to refurbish parts of the Complex (e.g., Gent’s toilets, changing rooms) or even enhance the buildings completely?

      There are prices being requested for decoration but at present there are no plans for major refurbishment.

Staff

We recognise that post Covid 19 recruitment and training of staff is proving difficult for every industry but the situation at The Complex seems worse than many similar facilities. It is good to see that new staff are being recruited.

The hospitality and leisure sectors have been left devastated by the pandemic and our situation is no worse than many others. Fortunately for the golfers a few of the existing colleagues, including myself worked 60 hours a week for numerous weeks plus to ensure Downshire didn’t experience any closures unlike other centres.

In the past few weeks, we have now employed Greg, our new retail manager with Mollie and Lucy as full time assistants so our shop is now pretty much staffed. In the kitchen we have just taken on new staff members also. All colleagues are having to undertake training in their new roles and once settled will be trained further in more aspects of the job.

Catering

Catering at the Complex is an integral part of golf clubs and valuable to both golfers and for income.

  1. With the recruitment of new catering staff when do you think you will be able to offer the full variety of food and catering service that existed before COVID?

Unfortunately, we still have supply chain issues which are impacting our business and our restricted menu is in the process of being opened up slightly in the very near future.

2. The halfway hut is sadly missed do you plan to reinstate this and if so, when?

We have no plans to re-open the halfway hut at present. We tried for almost 2 years but unfortunately with the model we tried we were unable to make it profitable with the level of business we took.

Pro Shop

The Pro shop used to be well stocked.

  1. What are the forward plans for the Pro Shop? E.g., Increase in variety of stock (including ladies and juniors), higher levels of stock, trained staff to assist

We have plans to change the offering in the pro shop including being classed as a Vokey pro. We would be the only pro shop in the area that will stock the whole range of Vokey wedges and our staff will be trained in delivering a fitting service in regards to the differences in grind and loft etc. 

Many pro shops are experiencing the same problems as ourselves in regards to stock since the pandemic as orders are placed 8 to 10 months in advance. With all the lockdowns many of the major suppliers are stuck with either old stock or have been unable to deliver outstanding pre orders.

Just recently we were able to secure more trolleys and some new clothing leading into the winter months and I’d say the shop at present is looking pretty full. If members can’t find what they’re looking for in the shop they can always visit the Foremost website or speak to Greg and we can order in for them.

Unfortunately, we won’t be extending the ladies clothing offer as women’s purchasing habits are different from men’s. Women golfers in general are less brand orientated and more cost aware and unfortunately, we don’t have suppliers in this market. However, we are looking at holding a ladies buying evening early next year with outside suppliers. We will however be stocking a small section of junior clothing in 2022.