Captain’s Newsletter June 2020
CAPTAIN'S NEWSLETTER JUNE 2020
Since Ronnie Grant, our Captain, issued his May Newsletter, members have all been informed of his op to remove a brain aneurysm. The op was a success but had some risks associated with it. As a result, he appears to have a slight weakness down his left side which, he has been advised, can recover given time. He has now been transferred to the QEU hospital in Glasgow and should be home in 7 to 10 days. I know you are all with me when we send Ronnie and his family our good wishes.
Lockdown restrictions put in place, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are gradually being relaxed as we move through the various phases detailed by our First Minister (FM). There are still challenges ahead before this unprecedented situation is over.
Following the FM latest pronouncement, we now have the goahead from the 6th July 2020 to serve drinks and food to our members on areas outside the Clubhouse and from the 15th July access to the Clubhouse will be also be allowed. Three additional picnic tables have kindly been donated by our Tuesday Section, Our Ladies Section, and the Cuthbert family. Details of all arrangements in line with current Govt guidelines will be issued shortly.
Competitive golf will be restarted this week and full details of how to enter the competitions and record scores will be notified to you by our M & H Secretary Alan Welsh.
We are still seeing litter deposited on our course by members. Coffee cartons left on the tees, empty cans deposited in the yellow tee cups on the tees and thrown into the rough at the sides of the fairways!! Please can you make every effort to take these items off the course with you until the rubbish bins are back in place on the course.
The steps at holes 1 and 2(gent's tees) – timber work complete. Astro turf mesh should be completed in the next two weeks when available from our supplier.
Steps at hole 10 (gent's tee) should be started this week.
Bunkers – Sand now obtained from the quarries. Turf round the newly constructed Eco bunkersat holes 2, 5 and 11 have suffered badly from the lockdown, dry weather, and lack of rain in the last twelve weeks. Some are showing signs of recovery; however, it is unlikely there will be a full recovery by the end of summer. These will continue to be in play but will be put out of action during Autumn and then re-turfed.
The current hole covers were always a temporary measure and will be replaced. Gordon Rennie is in the process of developing a robust flag mechanism which will replace the temporary covers. The prototype has been reviewed and looks very promising. Most of the components have now been delivered and so we should be able to introduce these in the next two or three weeks. Until then a temporary solution supplied by our Greens staff will be inplace before competition play begins this weekend.
The practice area is now open. Please contact our Professional to book a time to use it.
Hopefully, you will all have noticed the work done during lockdown by members on painting handrails, fences, bells and ball cleaner holders and removal of moss from the stone walls behind the 15th, 16th and 18th greens and 17th Gents tee. All divots on the fairways, rough and tees were also filled in by members who provided their time while our green staff were furloughed. We appreciate all their efforts.
I am sure you will all agree that our course is in great condition. Please keep emailing our Green's convenor with suggestions for improvement, complaints you may have or indeed praise. All communications will be looked at and answered.
Now that the FM has further relaxed restrictions from the6th and 15th July our House committee are working hard behind the scenes together with our catering and bar staff to get us ready to provide drinks and food to our members whilst still adhering to the Government's guidelines on Social distancing, sanitizing etc.
The new picnic tables will be placed in front of the clubhouse to provide extra capacity for members to enjoy, hopefully, fine summer conditions whilst having an after round sociable drink. Please try and stick around after your round and enjoy a drink and a chat maintaining, of course, social distancing guidelines.
The dance floor in the clubhouse has been sanded and re-varnished during lockdown.
Concern has been raised about the number of New Members.
Before COVID-19 pandemic arrived in February the number of members leaving the club had seen our Full Ordinary members reduce from a high in 2016 of 427 to 377 at September 2019. A further 30 Ordinary members resigned this year and the COM agreed a marketing strategy to attract new members by reducing the joining fee. The strategy saw us attract applications and 41 new full members have been introduced to the Club giving us a total of 388 Full Ordinary members. The COM at a recent meeting agreed that the position re New ordinary members be capped at 390 and put on hold until the COVID-19 pandemic has abated.
The COM received a quote for new signage to be erected on our land on Cathkin road positioned so traffic coming from either Carmunnock or from the RutherglenCambuslangEast Kilbride will now know for sure that there is a Golf Club situated here! Approval to purchase these signs was given and they will be erected asap.
We have updated the code of etiquette for Cathkin Braes and a copy is attached with this Newsletter. Nearly all of it is common sense and we ask members to always show respect and be courteous to their fellow members. Please curtail swearing and shouting especially in the confines of the clubhouse lounge, shout fore if your ball is going close to endangering a fellow member and wait that extra few seconds to allow members to exit greens before playing your shot. It is hoped to print these rules in a leaflet to be issued to visitors and member's guests to aid and help them enjoy the experience of playing our superb golf course.
Also attached is a summary of points raised by members during our return to golf following the COVID-19 lockdown giving an insight into our COM problems in finding suitable solutions to these issues. The COM have considered restricting member booking but on reviewing the booking sheets for the last few weeks feel that the number of members overbooking is relatively small. They respectfully request members to book no more than four games per week while COVID-19 is still with us.
The COM have further requested that members should inform our Professional, within 24 hours of booking a tee time, of their decision not to allow other members to be allocated to their game.
This then will allow our Professional to match up members who are looking for a game. As pressure on obtaining tee times will continue for the next few months please make every effort to keep our Professional informed for the benefit of all members!
We have been asked when visitorsguests will be allowed to play our course. Until the situation with COVID-19 has eased and pressure from our own members for tee times diminishes we are unable to give a date for this to happen.
The COM have agreed to allow members to access the toilets just inside the Main Clubhouse door.
The disabled toilet can be used by the Gents and the Ladies toilet by the Ladies. These two toilets are on the left-hand side as you enter the Clubhouse. Please follow the COVID-19 guidelines on washing hands and social distancing when using these toilets. The toilet on the course at the Greenkeeper's sheds will remain closed until we can arrange cleaning and sanitizer.
With competitions restarting on Saturday 4th July the COM have had little time to discuss and offer a solution to a couple of issues relating to bunkers. Our M&H secretary will confirm that a local rule will be put in place to allow members to lift and replace their ball in a bunker within 6 inches if it lands in a footprint or other uneven surface. Our green staff will return rakes for use in smoothing the bunkers. Please take sanitizer or disposable gloves out with yourself for use when raking the bunkers. Again, here think and be respectful of players behind you.
Currently there has been no further news on the development of the practice area.
Please still follow the FM current guidelines re social distancing, sanitizing, washing hands and keep you and your family safe and most of all enjoy playing golf in the sunny weeks ahead at Cathkin Braes.
Code of Etiquette
We do not have a great issue with Etiquette at Cathkin Braes, however, it is maybe appropriate to issue a general reminder, when the course is as busy as it is, at present.
u00b7 Please always be mindful of your fellow members and ensure that it is always safe to hit your shot.
u00b7 Please avoid slow play, always. Should you falla hole behind the game in front, consider letting the game behind you through.
u00b7 Please ensure that trolleys and buggies are not taken onto the surface of tees or greens.
u00b7 Ideally, trolleys and buggies should not be taken between bunkers and greens.
u00b7 Please take notice of signage around the course and act on the directions in them.
u00b7 Please moderate your language when on the course and in the clubhouse.
Some specifics per hole to bear in mind
u00b7 Please remember to ring one of the bells when you pass them.
u00b7 Please take caddy cars along the path at the 2nd tee.
u00b7 Remember to shout "fore" if your ball strays towards the 4th green.
u00b7 Remember to stand aside when you reach the green, to allow the next game to drive.
u00b7 Be vigilant for stray shots from the 2nd tee when approaching the green.
u00b7 Remember to shout "fore" if your drive strays down the 12th fairway.
u00b7 Please do not drive from the 9th tee if there is a game on, or approaching, the 11th green.
u00b7 Remember to ring the bell on the LHS of the fairway as you pass it.
u00b7 Please do not take your trolley up beside the green on the right-hand side.
u00b7 Do not play your approach shot to the green,until the game in front is safely on the 15th tee.
u00b7 Do not cross the burn until the game on the 15th has teed off.
u00b7 Remember to ring the bell as you exit the course.
Tee Booking Issues
The Captain, COM and Club Manager have, since Cathkin Braes opened after the COVID-19 lockdown, been receiving emails and comments from various sources. Listed below, to help members understand the complete picture, are the points raised by members and the COM
and the thoughts behind the decisions made. We are aware of member's frustration.
This situation, however, has been caused by a worldwide pandemic which is not going to go way any time soon. Many lives have been lost and we are lucky that we have a great golf course in magnificent condition due to our Greenkeeping staff and the opportunity to play golf while other sports still have restrictions in place! All our members have been impacted by this virus in some way and it is therefore very important we continue to have patience, understanding and respect for each other. It is still going to be some time in the future before normality returns.
Since golf re-started on 19th May, the normal level of demand for tee times has significantly increased due to: -
1. furlough workers and members working from home.
2. traveland social distancing restrictions making other leisure time activities less viable than golf.
3. the same restrictions delaying the reduced demand for tee times during the summer holiday period.
As lockdown restrictions start to ease so the position will change on all three of these factors and that will have a beneficial reduction in demand for tee times.
In the meantime, to maximise the opportunity for all to play golf, the Committee is continuing to encourage filling of unused "slots" in the tee booking system where single and two balls have booked times.
A Summary of points raised are as follows:
1 BRS – no tee times available within seconds of going live. We do not have a solution for this problem. Some members with state-of-the-art equipment fail to get a tee time and others with a mobile phone out on the course manage to get times. Other clubs we have been in contact have encountered the same problem. Our Professional and our Club manager have spent many hours on the phone to BRS to try and find solutions to this problem.
2 Members overbooking and playing 4+ rounds a week. We, as a committee, cannot stop members booking tee times. Members of our club,whatever their category, pay their subscription and are entitled to book tee times. We have continually requested members during these unprecedented times to respect other members and try and restrict their playing to a maximum of 4 rounds every seven days. Most of our member sare concurring with this advice.
3. Restrict members from playing consecutive days. We could have requested members to do this however this would penalise members who can only play on a Saturday and Sunday limiting them to one game a week!
4. NO SHOWS. We have taken this point up and members who continually book a time and do not appear will be blocked from using the booking system for one week. Generally, though we see that a NO SHOW is usually due to wet weather conditions and cancelling their tee time would make no real difference. Please, if you are not going to make your booked time, cancel with plenty of notice on BRS and if at short notice, please call the Starter as they may still be able to fill your time.
5. Singleton Booking Members who book as a singleton have every right to do so – they have paid their subscription. Some singleton players have informed us they are concerned, due to their or their family member's medical condition, with playing with other members. We must respect this decision as they or anyone they were paired up with could have the virusand be a carrier. The COM agreed that members who book a tee time have 24 hours from the time of booking to phone the Professional and let him know you do not wish another player slotted in against your tee time. (see point 7)
6. New Members The Committee do not feel new members are a problem! New members have also been contacting us about failing to get a tee time. Members join a club to play and club subscriptions are dear enough generally to have joined and not being able to get a game. Our full membership numbers at the beginning of our subscription year in September 2019 were 377 and as of now we have 380 full members, so this point is not the main issue!
7. Phase 2 of Lockdown and move to Three balls When the First Minister announced Golf clubs could have three ball golf or four ball involving two households the general opinion was this must help alleviate the pressure on tee times. It has not andthe Committee has now looked at ways to encourage singleton and two balls to accept another member onto their tee time. Looking at the booking pattern downloaded from BRS there are between 60 and 70 slots available daily that members could utilise if paired up with a singleton or two ball. The COM have addressed this point in a recent communication.
8. Why cannot the rules for 5-day members be relaxed to allow them to book after 16.30. Some five-day members have noticed the occasional time being released after 7pm and wondered why they are not allowed to utilise it? We have quite a few different categories of members and each category has different playing rights and subscriptions adjusted to take account of that. If we relax rules for one category, then another category of player would also then try to take advantage so regretfully we cannot allow changes to playing rights even in these unprecedented conditions.
9. Why are more booking times not available? Whenlockdown ended the Committee discussed the subject of tee times with The Professional and our Greenkeeping Staff. It was agreed that we would open 7am to 8am and 6pm to 8.15pm. Our Professional is covering the 7 to 8am and 6pm to 7pm times and volunteer committee members have been monitoring the 7pm to 8.15pm. These measures were put in place to open more times for members but required to be policed under track and trace rules due toCOVID-19. The Greenkeeping staff havehad to start work earlier to prepare the course for play and any earlier start would be a problem cutting the grass both on the fairways and especially the greens!
10. Why no Walk-on times made available? We are not allowed to have Walk-on times due to COVID-19 regulations. We are not allowed to have members who do not have a tee time hanging around and queuing for times.
11. Then what about reserved times to be allocated on the day? The Committee looked at this together with our Professional and after lengthy discussion could not come up with a workable solution of who should benefit from this option and how to choose who should be given these times.
We welcome any communication positive or negative and any suggestions of how to improve the system for the benefit of our members will be investigated thoroughly.
Vice-Captain Paul Matheson.