Stephen Smith to CHAIR OF COUNCIL

Your Suggestion / Comment

Having digested my new membership fee for 2023, and reading Chris Hornsby’s message in the October suggestions box; I feel the need to pass on some further comments to the committee. I read the feedback the committee has regarding proceeding cautiously, but I’m not sure what further precautions they’re willing to take for the 2023 season.

As a 31 year old playing male, I have been at Heswall for 5 years now, supporting the club throughout the entirety of Covid. I have now seen my green fees increase from the 2022 to 2023 season by 22%, this is something which I believe is unjustifiable. Some may suggest that I’ve moved from a 30 year old category, to 31-35, however my end cost is still a 22% increase.

The increase is far above inflation (11%), mortgage increases, let alone household electricity and gas bills. I do not believe the club has sensitivity to their fellow members, and originally did not take Chris’s comments seriously. I’m fortunate enough to afford a golf membership, but I cannot justify the increase this year.

Having consulted my playing peers, there are 6 of us whom are considering to leave the club end of 2022, this is only whom I’m only aware of within my playing circle.

Speaking with comparable local clubs to Heswall, and their cost for membership, their increases are around 5% from the 2022 to 2023 season for members of my age, with considerably lower membership costs.

A further comparison with a friend of mine who plays at Wallasey has suggested that my green fees are near enough the same as theirs, and he is a full adult member. As we’re all aware, Wallasey is the Home of Stableford, and holds a level of prestige, therefore the course itself is not comparable to Heswall, nor should the green fees be.

I would suggest reconsidering membership costs for the 2023 season to avoid any further loss. As Chris quite rightly suggested, we’re heading into another recession.

I would welcome further comments from the committee?

HGC Response


Dear Stephen

Many thanks for your email.

Apologies for the delay in replying but I only returned from holiday at the weekend and am currently catching up on emails.

There is really very little I can add to my response to Chris Hornsby, which you will have seen on the club website, with the bottom line being that the increase in subscription fees is in line with what we believe is required in order to cover our everyday running costs.   Nothing has changed since the budget was calculated, except that interest rates continue to rise as does inflation (meaning that the repayment of the club’s bank loan, as well as everything else we buy, costs more each month). In particular, as we have just come out of a 3-year fixed price energy deal, our energy bills are set to  rise by up to 300% from this month.

It is most definitely not true that the club lacks sensitivity towards its members – in fact the reality is totally the opposite. And I find your comment that we did not take Chris’ comments seriously personally insulting. I actually met with Chris after replying to his suggestion box message and we had a very positive and productive discussion.

It’s also not particularly helpful to directly compare one club’s subscription rises with another, as we are all individual in the challenges we face. For example, many clubs will not have the bank loan burden we do, and some clubs franchise out their bar and catering operations and therefore do not have to budget for a larger payroll. Interestingly, England Golf has recently conducted an informal survey of Cheshire clubs and has found that most have increased (or intend to increase) their membership subscriptions by between 10% – 15% this year.

All that said, I am sorry to hear that you and some of your playing peers may be thinking of leaving the club – that is most certainly not what we want. I also appreciate that as someone who is about to move from effectively Colt membership (up to 30) to Full membership (albeit at a reduced rate as you joined 5 years ago) you have suffered a double whammy. The club does of course offer a scheme whereby members may pay their subscriptions by monthly direct debit to help spread the cost of the payments.

Unfortunately, therefore, for all the reasons set out in recent club correspondence and during comprehensive presentations by the Chair of Finance and Treasurer at the club EGM in November, it is not possible to set membership subscriptions any lower than that formally proposed and voted on at the EGM.



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