The Cut : The Cut - Winter 2016
GOLF & LEISURE 39 BROUGHT TO YOU BY $1 million on high-performance player development programmes last year. In Australia the figure is closer to $10 million. That’s a big difference. We’ve got three major tournaments in New Zealand and they’re not money generating exercises. We’d like to see them all generating a surplus, but at least they’re not losing hundreds of thousands a year like they did a few years ago. Our income has been static for the last five or six years and the model of sport funding has changed dramatically in that time. Charitable trusts have been a huge part of funding sport at club and national level and that money is harder to come by. Sport New Zealand’s budgets are not growing, and getting money from government is more difficult than it ever has been. Many golf clubs are doing it tough at the moment. What are you doing to support the clubs? M: One thing we’re always conscious of is that our organisation can appear faceless to the average golfer in the clubs. We’re deeply connected and committed to the grassroots of the game but a lot of golfers on the tee don’t see that. About 18 months ago we decided to shift a lot of our investment away from high- performance and player development to club support. We’ve employed a number of people around the country to work with clubs on a daily basis on the business side of things. What type of advice do you offer clubs? M: It’s generally in three areas: governance (helping them get the right structures in place), strategy (helping them define what their club is about and where they’re going) and marketing. The business of golf is very complex and managers are expected to be jacks of all trades. Is there a big gulf between the best and worst-run clubs? M: The best clubs may not be the ones you think. In New Zealand we’ve got 200 clubs with under 200 members. We’ve got a lot of small clubs, but often they’re the most sustainable. They’ve got a lot of volunteers and they manage themselves appropriately. They live within their means and they’re not trying to turn themselves out like Augusta. Then you’ve got the top 10 or 20 clubs in the country that are reasonably sustainable and good businesses. It’s the clubs in the middle that need the most work. It’s also where you can make the biggest improvements. As clubs improve their management practices and as staff become better qualified and we get better renumerated people working in the sector, they will start to see better results.
The Cut - Spring 2016