Haddington Golf Club’s David Drew has been the driving force behind the dramatic turnaround and increased membership at the East Lothian club.
Having previously served as Match and Handicap Secretary for two years, David was appointed interim captain for a six-month stint in May 2014 during a very turbulent and financially testing time for the club.
Membership had dropped below 500, a level which meant they were only just breaking even. With the support of East Lothian Council’s Eamon John and advice from Scottish Golf Development Officer, Iain Evans, David set about making changes.
He brought in people with the right skills to form a strong management committee to keep the club going forward, with another business planning team looking at what needed to be done based on what their members wanted. The club employees are also key in the new business plan and have ownership to move forward their areas of business and ensure an excellent level of service.
Membership retention and recruitment is extremely important to the golf club. David launched the "Member Get Member" initiative which encouraged and incentivised members to bring in new members to the club to receive a 20% discount on their annual fees, with the new members also receiving the 20% discount. This initiative was a resounding success with members feeling they had the opportunity to reduce their fees and help out the club: one member even received his annual subscription for free as he brought in five new members.
An impressive 270 people joined the club in 2015, its 150th year, which was a welcomed financial boost and means Haddington can now invest in the course and make other improvements. David also raised the profile of flexible membership which works in with people’s lifestyles; it has proved popular, with 135 members choosing this option.
Having a strong ClubGolf programme and junior section, the club thought they should sign up to the Get into Golf programme, targeting juniors’ parents. David worked closely with the Junior Convenor and the PGA professional to introduce the initiative and eight took part in the first block of coaching.
Creating a family friendly atmosphere and raising the awareness of the golf club as a community facility is vital to the club, David continues to link with local businesses to raise the golf club's profile, and he has brought in an additional £13,000 in sponsorship for new club signage, as well as find partners to repair roads and erect a new buggy shed.
He has been instrumental in increasing social activities and functions as well as ensuring some of the more traditional members are catered for.
With all the changes taking place, David knew it was vital to hear what their members thought. Using Scottish Golf’s Customer Feedback Tracker, they were surveyed twice last year to ensure they were happy, and to identify where there were still challenges to overcome. This tool will be used regularly as the club continues to progress.
Lack of communication was a common theme in the Members Forum which took place before the business planning document was written. The communications plan with targets and objectives was put in place and has resulted in much more awareness of the use of social media, the Facebook page and Twitter account has been reinvigorated.
In addition to this David has worked to embark on members’ and visitors’ apps for Haddington Golf Club which is linked to the website and social media outlets which has been a huge success.
David was nominated for the Volunteer of the Year award by Haddington’s President Gordon Blackie, who said:
“Without doubt, the club's performance has significantly improved with David’s leadership. He has put in a huge amount of time and effort to bring the club to a place where we can now move forward positively. Looking to the future with the business plan in place, there is now a structure with targets and objectives, although we appreciate there are still many challenges to face.
“David has been worth his weight in gold over the last few years, especially in his time as Captain and those at Haddington Golf Club would love for him to be recognised on a national level.”
David said: “I didn’t expect to be nominated, and certainly did not expect to be shortlisted so I was quite shocked. I’ve never given any thought to what I’ve been doing, I just did what was needed and got on with it, so it is great recognition for the club.
“People tell me I’m doing a good job and hope I’m staying on, and they’ve just voted me on for a third year. All the funds generated from new members are being invested back into the course and this year we’re working on making our greens as good as they can be.
“We’ll continue to make sure members have their say every year, and we also have a suggestion box where they can submit ideas for the management committee’s consideration at any time.”
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