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Grantham golf club increases membership despite lockdown uncertainty

With the coronavirus lockdown causing uncertainty and problems for many sports clubs, Stoke Rochford Golf Club has bucked the trend by increasing its membership.

After seven weeks without play, the club’s parkland course has been in demand since its re-opening last Wednesday when the Government eased lockdown restrictions for non-contact sports such as golf, tennis and angling.

Play is currently restricted to two golfers per slot - and subject to social distancing guidelines - but while competitive golf remains cancelled for the foreseeable future, the club hopes rules will be further eased to allow fourball matches by early June.

Stoke Rochford hopes lockdown restrictions will be further eased to allow three and fourballs on course in June (34902086)
Stoke Rochford hopes lockdown restrictions will be further eased to allow three and fourballs on course in June (34902086)

Commercial chairman Glyn Staines said: “We opened as members’ only, but immediately we had visitors asking for slots.

“Members still have priority when booking, but any remaining slots are now open to visitors.”

The timing of the lockdown could not have been worse for golf clubs, with membership renewals due in April. Just as courses were out of bounds, economic uncertainty hit many households.

Staines added: “It came as a shock. We thought the lockdown would come later, but we knew it was going to come, and we knew then we would have to react. The biggest problem was the uncertainty. We had no idea when we could re-open.”

Not only did Stoke Rochford retain numbers, membership grew to 367, from fewer than 350 before the pandemic.

Chairman Adrian Stannard assembled a steering group soon after the lockdown announcement was made on March 23, and believes the club’s positive response and regular communication with members helped boost numbers. He said: “Just as we went into lockdown the fees were due, but the members have been really good.”

“We made sure we kept them up-to-date at every step and that really seems to have helped. We saw it as an opportunity to improve and to be proactive; we didn’t think, ‘woe is me’. We were having four or five video conference calls a week.”

Staines added: “We have a loyal membership, most have been here a long time, so financially we haven’t suffered.”

While greens staff at some clubs were put on the Government’s furlough scheme, Stoke’s team of greenkeepers worked for all but a week of the lockdown to ensure the course would be immediately ready for

Staines said: “We decided we needed to keep the course in good order because we didn’t know how long it would last so we kept our staff on board.

“Our three priorities were to look after the course, look after our employees and look after our members.”

For more information and booking, visit www.stokerochfordgolfclub.co.uk or their Facebook page @StokeRochfordGolfClub

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