My last update to shareholders and members was in June when we faced circuit breaker lockdown 5.0. Regrettably we now find ourselves in lockdown 6.0 and while we all hope to return to near normal operations on Friday September 3rd, I think most would agree this outlook for a quick return to golf is optimistic.
I would like to advise members the Board supports the voluntary policy to have “as many Australians vaccinated as possible.” As an organisation we are responsible for a safe workplace and we urge all members, staff, contractors and visitors to receive a COVID-19 vaccination (subject to medical advice) at their earliest practicable convenience.
The main purpose of this update is to advise how we are managing the lockdown in relation to our valued staff. I am pleased to reassure you that The National is currently supporting and facilitating the welfare, as well as retention initiatives for all staff. Fortunately, the results of the financial year just completed were strong. This result will allow us to provide ongoing assistance. It is vital we make every effort to support all employees and ensure their welfare. This will enable staff and members to resume “normal operations” immediately this lockdown eases.
Administration and course staff remain fully engaged, as are a number of our management team from hospitality and golf operations. Other staff in the outside services, golf academy, golf operations, rangers, hospitality, cleaning and maintenance are not able to work as productively from home. Importantly the management team have been staying in touch to keep them engaged as best they can.
As was the case during all previous lock downs, our course maintenance crew have had uninterrupted access to the courses to conduct allowable “essential maintenance”. An absence of cart traffic, reduced divots and pitch marks have resulted in superior surfaces.
Amongst a variety of other essential maintenance works being completed, a number of planned renovation works have been brought forward. This will result in less interruptions and better playing conditions for members when we do return. Specific works include:
• Verti Draining of the fairways which was planned for late August
• The area of poor turf in the middle of the 7th fairway has been over sown with fescue
• The first application of Poa cure was applied to the greens. There is another 4 or 5 applications to go over the next 10 weeks
• The burnt sections of rough have been seeded with fescue
• Irrigation installation has started in the fescue fairway approaches
• Greens will be aerated to relieve compaction and improve turf health
• Aeration of all greens
• The large gum tree beside the 12th green has been trimmed of dangerous branches. Five dangerous trees, including the dead tree in the middle of the 5th fairway, have been removed
Our Agronomist recently completed a review of the progress of the initiative to over plant Winter Green couch in the Gunnamatta fairways as well as Santa Anna couch at Long Island. A very encouraging report of both locations is attached here
An update follows on current major project work.
Long Island – upgrading the facility.
• Presentations have been received from two Australian based golf course architects. COVID restrictions have meant we have not had opportunity to consider overseas based golf course architects
• Importantly we have been contacted by South East Water (SEW) seeking to evaluate interest in participating in a scheme which has the potential to secure access to recycled water at Long Island. We have advised SEW of our keen interest in this initiative.
Cape Schanck Clubhouse – an upgrade to refresh the amenity.
• COVID has meant face to face presentations from three architects with experience in golf Clubhouse design have been delayed. Fortunately, these architects are all Melbourne based and it should not be too long before we can start to assess their ideas for improvements.
• Assessing various opportunities in relation to this objective continue to be undertaken, however there are currently no developments that we able to report upon.
The Board is currently reviewing a proposal to add additional car park spaces in the precinct of the Cape Schanck Clubhouse, now required during periods of high demand.
Members will recall initiatives have been implemented to reduce the number of rounds played on the Old course during winter in order to improve the overall course presentation during this period and into spring. I am pleased to report the restrictions which have been in operation during periods when we have been open for play, in conjunction with the popularity of the Gunnamatta course, have to date been very effective.
The below represents the playing patterns across the three courses at Cape Schanck during the period from May to July
• Gunnamatta 40% of play (up from 29% in 2017 as the Ocean Course)
• Moonah 32% (2017 37%)
• Old 28 % (2017 34%)
Demand for membership of The National is still very strong. Click here for a recent snapshot of the share market
Finally, I would like to acknowledge my board colleagues for the great support they have provided since my appointment as Chairman in October last year. As a result of their strong encouragement, I advise shareholders I will be continuing as Chairman of National Golf Holdings Ltd. There is much still to achieve, and I especially look forward to seeing many of our exciting projects and initiatives through to fruition for the benefit of us all.