For a time in 2020 they became the most prized commodity in golf.
At many golf facilities that demand has continued into 2021 and posed a question that has not needed to be asked for a number of years: How do you squeeze more tee times into a fully-booked timesheet?
In her 16th year at Cumberland Country Golf Club in Sydney’s western suburbs, Joanne Bannerman had never seen anything like it but her relationship with her staff, with club management and with the members helped the club to navigate the tricky waters of juggling member and public play during a period of high demand.
Bannerman has been named the PGA National Club Professional of the Year for her game development initiatives, her continued advancement in coaching and community engagement activities but, more than ever, her ability to manage a high volume of golfers and keep everyone – relatively – happy was a skill that benefited the club greatly.
Cumberland regularly has upward of 220 players in both the Wednesday and Saturday competitions and with the influx of new golfers and members eager to use periods of lockdown to squeeze in an extra game or two, adjustments were being made on a daily basis.
“We’ve got a very good Golf Operations Manager in Matthew Lamerton,” Bannerman explains. “Matt sets and operates the timesheets and we watch it and communicate with him as to what’s going down. If any alterations need to be made we’ll put a suggestion to the match committee.
“It’s a tough battle trying to keep your members happy but also bring revenue into the club with public and social times.
“It’s a struggle because the members need to know that they’re No.1 and having their times when they want to come and play but we also need to manage to get revenue in in the public space.
“My team manages a lot of the social clubs and all the golf bookings and then work in with the club who organise corporate and members events.
“It’s a well-oiled machine and the communication has been quite good.”
When demand was at its highest Cumberland instituted a restriction in which members could only have one live booking on the most popular days of Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
Now offering competition play seven days a week, Bannerman and her staff have tried to encourage members to adjust their long-held playing habits as well as the club taking timesheet bookings online.
“We tried to encourage those who normally played on a Wednesday or a Saturday to play on a Thursday, those retired guys who are more flexible so that there were times available for people who could only play on the weekend,” says Bannerman.
“It’s tough because they’ve been doing it the same way for so long but some took it in their stride.
“We have a staggered timesheet now that goes members comp, members social and then public. But the members social times fill within seconds of the sheet opening.
“It’s an ongoing battle.
“We were very traditional in the sense that on a Wednesday morning at 6am, the sheet for the following Wednesday would come out. We’d have people lined up outside the gates to come in and book their time for next Wednesday.
“Because people couldn’t gather at the club they started opening up the times online. It took a while for the older members to get used to it – and some will still contact us or get someone else to book them in – but the majority have made that transition now.”
Through it all, Bannerman’s staff were ready and willing to do whatever was necessary – including setting up the pro shop outside for a time – to keep the timesheet running smoothly, always with a smile on their face.
“I had a member who I perhaps wouldn’t have expected it from recently compliment me on a couple of the guys in the team, the level of service that they provide and how friendly they are,” said Bannerman, whose ultimate goal is achieve PGA Master Professional status.
“He said that this is the best team that I’ve ever had and I’d have to agree.
“And that’s the thing with winning this award. I could never win this type of award without them. It’s a team effort.
“They allow me to do what I do because they do such a good job looking after the members and operating the shop. They’re very good.”