This today started me thinking a wee bit about costs of recreational activities and it would seem that, more and more, you have to, on the one hand limit the extent of organised ‘things you do’ in your free time, or get a part-time job to pay for the costs of organised ‘things you do’ in your spare time. Of course it is always going to involve costs of one kind or another- for equipment needed to participate (and it seems the higher the expertise the higher the costs of equipment because ‘second best won’t do’?) for club affiliation costs if you belong to a club, for hire of facilities if you aren’t just able to go to a track or a river (etcetera) and ‘do your thing’, and simply for the associated costs of getting yourself to wherever it is you need to be to ‘do your thing’.
More and more people are bemoaning the increasing costs and it is not uncommon to hear that someone is giving up a sport because they can’t afford to continue. This Has particularly been the case when subscription increases are considered at my local golf club. Of course there are always extenuating circumstances that impact on people- age and income, family status (young children about, and I agree completely that the first priority is the family and not the weekend “good walk spoiled” [as Mark Twain is reputed to have described golf]), or prioritising pass-times because I ‘can’t afford both’.
What I attempted to do at the last annual meeting of my club, the Greymouth Golf Club, when a 5% subs increase was moved and a number of negative comments followed was to try to get people to realise (a) how unrealsitic it was to expect subs to stay the same, year in and year out and (b) what a very good deal they get .
Of course it’s easy to talk about ‘cost of living increases’, the CPI, and other such, but then to see people shrug their shoulders and suggest it’s unreasonable at ‘our golf course’ is unrealistic. Before this discussion the annual financial reports were presented and one of the major items is always depreciation- we have assets and equipment that wear out and need replacement so to prepare ourselves for those replacement costs we should be saving a certain percentage of our income every year- depreciation. We have equipment, especially course presentation equipment that requires regular maintenance. We have staff who need to be paid, and their salaries must keep pace with other sector salary increases. So it is clear that increases are inevitable.
The argument of our membership being a great ‘deal’ is easy. Our course is always in very good condition and is presented to a standard comparable with all but the ‘resort’ courses around the country (although it can be argued that the greens are slower than they might be- hardly a reason for sinking subs!) There is seldom, if ever any problem with getting on the course given our membership is small (around 200 in all, and it is usual that only about a quarter of htese play on ‘club days’.) As well as a very pleasant golf course, membership also allows free access to a number of other golf courses around the country- in the North Island we have ‘sister’ status with Patea and Dannevirke clubs, while in Canterbury our sister clubs are Weedons, McLeans Island and Waimak Gorge, 3 very accessible and well-presented courses freely available for any Greymouth members. Finally, membership of Greymouth Golf Club entitles access to all other Buller/Westland courses, seven in number. A ‘great deal’ indeed.
So while there are always valid arguments about increases it is my belief that if a responsible club management keeps membership increases reasonable and obviously justified the members need to suck it up and if the desire is there to play the sport, the means can be found to fund participation.
Incidentally our members are able to pay their subs by regular direct-debit so for a weekly commitment of around $10 they can play as many games as they wish at Greymouth, play as often as they wish elsewhere on ‘The Coast’ and walk onto 5 other courses if they are ‘out and about’.