Cuddington Golf Club

Questions and Answers

If you would like to ask a question to the Director of Golf and Operations, Captain or Office please choose from the below options:

Paul Schunter - Director of Golf and Operations -

Stan Finikin - Captain -

All other enquiries to office -

Please note the above are not links - just copy and paste the email address to send email to recipient.

What is going to be done with the area to the right of the 12th hole where the chalk was spread out as this is an eyesore and has been like it for some considerable time now?

The chalk area on the left-hand side of the 12th has been reseeded.  Over the past twelve months there is a greater grass covering than there was previously.  However, growth is still slower than we would like so the current plan involves seeing how the area develops over this summer and early Autumn.  If the area does not improve in this time further plans will be needed.  The reason we are persevering is to encourage calcareous grasses to grown which will give us the tall wispy rough in keeping with our downland course.  If we add anything with more nutrients, we will be encouraging thicker broad-leafed grasses which is exactly what we do not want to see there.

Paul Schunter, DoG&O

What is going to be done about the wall and fence to the right of the 10th hole as this is extremely unattractive and has been like it for some considerable time now?

The removal of the wall was on the project list for last year. Pre-covid we were in the final stages on plans for removing the wall.  The work would have been undertaken last August as the ground conditions would have been firm so the machinery used would have caused as little disruption as possible. This project was delayed as all spend was put on hold last year due to COVID-19.  Currently the plans for the wall are on hold as we wait for the new course report.

Paul Schunter, DoG&O

Has any consideration been taken to the fact that the new runoff area to the right of the 5th hole is the main walking route off of the hole, is where all machinery and equipment is brought through for work on this 3 hole section of the course and will have an extensive number of people playing from this point and taking divots?  Will we really be able to maintain this to a standard which will enable it to provide an effective runoff function but still provide a fair playable lie?

The access route to holes 3,4 & 5 to the left of that area is still there.  The whole area was stripped back to the chalk before the topsoil was added.  The area was then turfed and additional drainage was also installed as a further safeguard.  In the same way that we do not experience problems with divots anywhere around other greens such as the 18th we do not expect there to be playability issues on these runoffs. The area to the left of the runoff that has not been turfed before the path has been seeded and will become tiger rough.

Paul Schunter, DoG&O

Why was the governments job retention scheme not used for certain employees of the club such as the DoG and the Operations Manager? This especially applies to the scheme after changes from the 1st of July 2020 which enabled an employees to carry out work for a percentage of their role and the employer to claim a furlough allowance for the other percentage.

The directors of the Club did consider whether it was appropriate to furlough both the Director of Golf & Operations and the Operations Manager.  Together with two members of the greenstaff these were the only two members of staff that were not furloughed at any time during lockdown.  Despite the course being closed there was a huge amount of additional work that needed to be done as we reacted to the latest change in direction from the government and we worked out how and when we might be able to get golf back up and running in a safe manner, or what we needed to do manage the cost base of the Club.  The Captain and I personally spoke to Paul at least once a day, sometimes lengthy conversations, as we tried to work out what was best for the future of the Club. It is difficult to explain what goes on behind the scenes in running a golf Club, but I can assure you it is wide and varied.  Paul issued many well written communications throughout lockdown keeping the members informed of developments.  If anyone has ever worked in a communication role, they will know that each communication needs to be carefully drafted and require input from a number of individuals often with different opinions. The fact that Paul was only able to take 4 days holiday last year goes some way to indicating that he was busy dealing with a fluid situation.

The Operations Manager could possibly have been furloughed earlier this year but that coincided with the preparation work to issue the subscription letters.  There are a lot of changes in categories to perform and checks to undertake to ensure every member receives the correct bill and that the Club receives the income it needs to continue operating.  The Chairman of Finance would normally assist in this process but given COVID restrictions the Operations Manager completed this himself this year.  In addition to his usual work load he also used this period to get trained on safeguarding, as well as completing an overhaul of the Club’s safeguarding documents (something that is important to me as a Director of the Club). 

The Club only emerged in a strong a position due to the additional hours that members of staff (and Committee Members) put in during this period.

Michael Blackburn, Vice-Captain & Chairman of finance 2019-2020

The club has offered complimentary lessons to all members however it is assumed that the pros providing these lessons will still be receiving some payment for their time and services, assuming this is the case, then rather than being free or complimentary you must be supplementing these through the club? Can you clarify the position on this and how they are being funded?

This was an idea from a Committee Member that the Committee approved and did not originate from any of our golf professionals. The rationale behind this proposal is that Cuddington is fortunate to have a range of professionals to select from and with the Swing Studio we also have a top of the range training facility, which as you know has recently been upgraded at no cost to the Club.  Despite having so many professionals it was apparent that members were either not having lessons or going to other golf clubs to receive lessons.  As someone who has seen their handicap reduce by 10 shots since I joined the Club I strongly believe in the benefits of lessons.  (I know I still have a lot more work to do to reach that single figure target.) This initiative was a way to kick start the teaching services that the  professionals we have can provide to the members.  This is a one-off initiative and it is now up to the professionals to be innovative as they continue to provide these services.  Hopefully, those of you that have taken up the free lessons have been able to take something positive on to the golf course and you will continue to support the professionals that Cuddington. As previously explained the Committee negotiated a significantly reduced rate with the professionals for this service and this was budgeted for in the current year’s budget.

Michael Blackburn, Vice-Captain & Chairman of finance 2019-2020

How long will we be retaining the entrance/exit gates? Are these going to become a permanent fixture and are they costing us money to retain? (Partly addressed in the AGM notes)

It is anticipated that the entrance gates will be kept through to the end of June/July.  The committee are looking at the possibility of installing permanent gates tastefully in keeping with our clubhouse and grounds.  The gates were installed as an additional security measure during periods of extended closure.  Many clubs opted to use concrete blocks to protect their car parks which were obviously not an option for us as access was still required for those working at the club, our residents, and the fire department.  Security of our grounds and clubhouse is an ongoing concern especially at certain times of the years when our car parks are vulnerable even to travellers moving in.

Paul Schunter, DoG&O

As we return to normal club usage will we remove the fixed times for club closing and gates being locked? This was never previously the case and players were able to continue until light precluded play. If locking the gates prior to sunset exists this may encourage members to park in Cuddington Way to play the course without risk of being locked in. It would be suggested that any implementation of gates takes into account the requirement for members to be able to let themselves out through coded exit etc.

With the current situation the gates will simply be locked after the last golfers leave and the clubhouse is shut.  Moving forwards.  As we continue to emerge from these restrictions, we obviously want our members to have access to the course from when it opens until it is dark.

Paul Schunter, DoG&O

With the changing rooms having been shut for an entire year how can people with lockers not be given a year’s usage for their payment in 2020, a 40% refund does not appear to reflect the impact for those who pay for this service.

As I am sure you will understand all members had their membership effected in some way last year.  There are many membership categories and aspects of membership.  The Committee discussed several options regarding lockers and after a long discussion made the decision that members should receive a refund only for the period that the Club chose to close the lockers, even though the law allowed them to be open.  This was explained in the subscription letter.

Michael Blackburn, Vice-Captain & Chairman of finance 2019-2020

How are significant changes such as those to the 5th and the 7th not communicated to members in advance and subject to some level of approval? Were these changes listed in the course report? This does not appear to be available on the club website. With regards to the changes made, there is concern that we have significant issues with the quality of bunkers at Cuddington however we continue to make changes to them without taking steps to ensure the end product is going to meet the required quality level.

The changes to the 7th hole were in the previous course report.  The changes on the 5th were essential as the whole area needed attention following the woodland work.  The bunkers and the area immediately to the left of them were dug out of the old green and constantly boggy and roped off for extended periods.  The clay underneath them was removed during the recent renovations which will allow better drainage in that area.  As everyone is aware Frank Pont is currently undertaking a new course report. Which had come about as we searched for an expert to advise us on bunkers.  The strategy of the hole is relevant to where the bunkers are located.  Many of our Bunkers at Cuddington are extremely old and need complete renovation.  Once we have seen Franks report it will be presented to the membership and a way forwards will be discussed.  All the recent bunker work has involved recovering original bunkers where the groundwork is already in place.  All the work done on holes 5 and 7 were done with comments from Frank as it would obviously have been incompetent to be completing work that would then have been at odds with a new report.

Paul Schunter, DoG&O

The AGM notes state that table service is ‘here to stay’ however this can significantly slow down service if the bar is not suitably resourced and additional resources would surely reduce profits. Why would we not prior to any decision on this investigate the optimal method for running the bar service to ensure first rate and efficient service for customer whilst maintaining the best profit ratio? Would it not generally be better to look at how we maximise usage of the bar facility by members and guests including evenings and weekends.

As I am sure you are aware much thought is given to all these matters.  Yes, staff numbers need to be increased to run this service efficiently but in exchange for a better service for members and guests we believe a small reduction in profits is acceptable. However, this will constantly be monitored, and a final decision taken once the current rules are relaxed. Currently we have to maintain table service in line with the law.

Paul Schunter, DoG&O

Are you able to share current and historic numbers for all categories of members over the past 10 years along with evidence captured over the past 2 years of peak usage times through the booking system? This would provide clarity on membership numbers and how we can manage membership numbers to tee slot availability going forward. Could this data be shared regularly with members moving forward?

Our membership numbers are constantly being looked at.  The current pandemic has had a profound impact on golfs participation everywhere.  A witing list was reintroduced at Cuddington back in 2015/2016.  Over the past year more members have played golf for many reasons which have been highlighted previously.  Put simply although our membership numbers have remained reasonably constant over the past years and as one member leaves one is admitted.  This maintains our membership numbers but has a detrimental effect on the course usage as if any given year as an example if 20 people leave 10 were probably playing little if any golf.  From the 20 replacing them all 20 are likely to be playing regularly. So, although the membership numbers are constant the course usage has increased.

At Cuddington we are also blessed to be situated on chalk which allows golf for twelve months of the year.  The increased rounds do cause additional wear and tear some of which you can see whist others is hidden. A simple illustration would be compaction as every golfer leaves a green on a similar route the ground becomes more compact, and ponding will begin to appear.

Since the implementation of the booking system, we do now have data on the rounds played which I am sure can be shared through the course of this year with the membership.

Paul Schunter, DoG&O

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