As the countdown continues to the 2017 Scottish Golf Awards at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange, we profile the second of four clubs in the running for the coveted Club of the Year prize.
The Award – sponsored by Club Systems International and HowDidiDo – will be contested by The Blairgowrie Golf Club, Kingsfield Golf Centre, Muir of Ord Golf Club and Mearns Castle Golf Academy. A superb prize of £3,000 is at stake, a sum split between the sponsors and Scottish Golf.
Blairgowrie is no stranger to being in the spotlight having hosted a number of leading national amateur events in recent years and the memorable 2014 Junior Ryder Cup. Throughout 2016, the club has worked hard to meet the new challenges that modern lifestyles demand and improve their golf offering.
A waiting list has been retained, and ladies and youth numbers have grown. The clubhouse is a focal point for members, but many non-playing members are now familiar faces in the warm and welcoming environment of the Perthshire venue. So how has this been achieved?
Using the Scottish Golf ‘secret shopper’ opportunity, the club established very easily where they could do better. Improved communication between staff and customers and internal training returned positive feedback from members and visitors alike.
Not satisfied, staff attended World Host training which is an internationally acclaimed award for Excellence in Customer Service, resulting in greater staff confidence, shared knowledge and responsibility. The outcome has resulted in 90% of customer feedback returning a 5-star rating for all departments.
The courses, two superb 18-hole layouts (Rosemount and Lansdowne) and a challenging 9-holer, have also been developed and maintained to the highest possible standard, with communication between the staff, committee and members proving strong to ensure the courses are in championship standard for each day of the playing season. The club and its members also have a reputation for accommodating significant events, with willing and flexible staff.
Blairgowrie’s former managing secretary Douglas Cleeton, who is now taking over at Brunstfield Links GS, said: “The impact of the training and application has helped membership grow. Members love the club and application forms for membership are replenished every day. In 2015, there were 45 waiting for full membership. In 2016, that doubled.
“Why? The facilities on offer, the service provided and the course conditions – this provides an overall experience at Blairgowrie that is difficult to match.”
Moreover, the club remain active in running Scottish Golf’s participation programmes, Get into Golf and ClubGolf. In 2016, for example, 20 ladies – all non-members – took part in ladies-only sessions of Get into Golf with Level 1 coaches before progressing to practice on the 9-hole ‘Wee Course’. Some have gone on to take up membership and now regularly play the game.
“The club also seeks to stay aware of market trends with a proactive strategy to encourage new golfers to join,” adds Cleeton. “Innovative new membership categories have been introduced and these have appealed to both members and non-members who enjoy the flexibility and cost effectiveness.”
Notably, community interaction has improved enormously with external local clubs, societies and organisations often using the club as a meeting place through a non-playing membership offer, thus boosting the club’s finances. All in all, 2016 has again been a year for Blairgowire to look back on proudly. For more information, visit: www.theblairgowriegolfclub.co.uk