Lahinch projecting €1.3 million in losses as Covid cost is counted

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Lahinch projecting €1.3 million in losses as Covid cost is counted

Lahinch GC (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

It will be a long time before the full extent of the impact of Covid-19 is counted across the golf industry in Ireland but Lahinch GC is one club reporting huge losses as the nightmare that has been 2020 nears its end.

In an interview with the Irish Times, Martin O’Sullivan, Chairman of Lahinch Golf Club, revealed a projected deficit of €2.7 million in green fees and associated revenue in 2020, contributing to an expected loss of €1.3 million for the year.

Last year’s Irish Open host venue, a stunning links in County Clare rivalling the world’s best, has seen its visitor market ravaged like many championship courses along Ireland’s west coast. Restricted travel from the United States has been a major factor in the downturn with pre-Covid figures suggesting around 200,000 people travel from around the globe specifically for golf in Ireland.

Although there was plenty of support from the domestic market as golf made its return in May where many other sports were still put on hold, the report suggests that the short window to recoup overseas losses result in nearly €200,000 in green fee revenue, a figure that would’ve been significantly more only for this latest lockdown to stop golf in its tracks once more.

“At the start of it, none of us knew how bad it was going to be or how long it was going to go on for,” Martin O’Sullivan told Philip Reid. “Back in April, we did adjust our budget, we re-budgeted and looked at areas we could cut costs and did a revised budget and then revised it again a few months ago to project the results up to the end of December.

“The key number for us, is [we’re] down €2.7 million in what we call visitor revenue, the bulk of which is green fees and revenue from the shop associated with the visitors. Most businesses could not afford to take that sort of a belt. We’re lucky we had some reserves and pruned back our costs but we’re still coming in with a substantial financial loss. We’ve survived it for now but will look for things to improve going forward. This is a big enough hit.”

How heavy that blow is felt, and how deep its impact lasts will depend on how the world recovers from Covid-19. Will travel be back on the menu? Will a vaccine ensure life returns to the old normal? For now, Lahinch reports that people are erring on the side of optimism in that regard with postponed trips in the pipeline for 2021.

“Ninety percent of them have rescheduled [for 2021] and already there’s some talk from a small number of moving it on, those with the more pessimistic outlook, it might be the following year. But who knows? This is an evolving situation. We’ve budgeted for a worst-case scenario, but we’re mildly optimistic the second part of the year might see some travel if the whole vaccination programme works and there is a view the golfer might travel before the person on the coach tour,” said O’Sullivan.

“Hopefully it will come back right. We had a bit of a cash reserve which helped, and we would hope to rebuild cash to cater for any similar things that happen in the future. In a club like ours, all the time we’re trying to invest back, any profits will be reinvested.”

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7 responses to “Lahinch projecting €1.3 million in losses as Covid cost is counted”

  1. Colm avatar

    So where are the attractive offers that might make this stunning course available to LOCAL golfers and help to repair the financial losses the club has suffered? Like so many of the big (mostly, Western) tracks, these initiatives have been conspicuous by their absence.
    For too long, it seems, some of the big Irish links have been cocooned for too long in the culture of high tariff/captive market unrealities.

  2. Ray avatar

    I would agree with Colm it is all money with these type of courses. Do they have any open weeks or open weekends at preferential rates? Do they give anything back to the ordinary club golfer by way of value? I believe the answer is “No” as there is nothing in it for them ie Greed and more Greed.

  3. Douglas Brown avatar

    Yes. If you ask about prices as a GUI member its extortionate for “local” golfers. Why not put in attractive lower rates for first half 2021 and encourage us to book up and experience such a wonderful course but normally out of our financial range?

  4. Bryan avatar

    I played Ballybunion both courses in 1988 for IR20 by virtue of my GUI membership. Why is it not something similar these days ?

  5. Harpur Harpur avatar

    I agree with all of the above. If there was an attractive price for the Irish “Local” golfers they would definitely reduce their deficit. As with most of this type of venue snobbery pervaiils.

  6. kevin maguire avatar

    Why would you bother going to these places now when all they wanted all along was the American dollar. Last year I was involved in a match with one of the famous Dublin links club,we talked about all things golf including society golf which they don,t entertain the reason being they are in-undated with coach loads of Americans looking to play links golf.
    They will take our euro now and society golfers if we are stupid enough to go down that road. What some of these golf clubs charge for one round of golf would nearly get you a full membership in some of the clubs around the country….Rant over

  7. Gerard Byrne avatar

    It about time we spoke about the elephant in the room . They say it’s an I’ll wind that blows no good . It’s hard to find the good in COVID-19 but from a golf perspective it has exposed these fat cat courses who don’t want to know the Irish golfer . There should be a certain amount of time allotted at reduced rate for all GUI players on these courses all true the year. The GUI say they want to grow the game . Well talk is cheep . Do something about this in balance and make all Irish courses available to all Irish golfers not just the elite . ?️‍♂️

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