Fife Council golf courses hail a ‘very strong’ start to 2022 with a ‘thriving environment’
The Fife Golf Trust’s annual report for the period 2020/21 suggested the impact of COVID-19 appears to have led to something of a ‘boom environment’ for the outdoor leisure industries – and that is a environment that the organization wishes to make the most over the next few years.
The Trust operates five 18-hole and two nine-hole golf courses on behalf of Fife Council and aims to advance public participation in golf and develop projects which could further strengthen its charitable status.
Advisors to Fife Council’s Housing and Community Services Sub-Committee heard this week how the Trust has spent most of 2020/21 responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic and ensuring local courses are operated safely and in accordance with Scottish Golf and Scottish Government guidelines and legislation. .
And despite forced closures from March to May 2020 and an ever-changing picture in terms of restrictions, the Trust has managed to return to a balanced financial position for 20/21 after five years of operational losses.
Alistair Macgregor, Managing Director of The Trust, commented: “With a small dedicated team and limited resources, FGT has built on the progress of previous years and, despite the challenges of COVID, has increased ticket sales by season and visitors while introducing new online sales. booking and ensured that the financial impact of covid on FGT and Fife Council was minimised.”
Councilor Neil Crooks, who has served on the FGT board since its inception more than a decade ago, described the work done over the past two years in particular as a “massive achievement”.
“It can be an expensive game to try and play, but we’ve done our part to remove price increases while improving courses,” he said.
“It may be an unfortunate benefit, but because golf courses are places where people can access under controlled conditions, we have benefited from an increase in the number of people playing golf.
“It’s been challenging, with the steps we need to take to keep people safe changing from month to month, but we’ve also managed to meet our charity goals, which is great.”
Following the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) certified accreditation in March 2017, FGT is continuing its efforts to improve the sustainable management and environmental quality of all of its courses.
Noting a desire to switch to electric machines, Mr Macgregor also stressed the importance of investing in efficient and reliable machines to maintain courses, improve off-course facilities and generate additional revenue.
To that end, he urged council to consider the possibility of long-term leases or rental arrangements – an avenue, so far, that has yet to be explored.
He said: “Rental costs can be quite attractive and you have to ask yourself: is it desirable for the board to hold deteriorating assets?
A business plan for the next three years has also been submitted to Fife Council for consideration.