Dear Members,

What a bizarre year 2020 has been, I’m quite sure in looking back 12 months ago no one could have predicted how the coming year would have turned out. I cannot think there will be too many people sorry to see the back of 2020.

And personally speaking, I’m not sure I could have picked a more challenging set of circumstances for my second year of Captaincy at the club. That said, I enjoyed the challenge.

Away back in March when the first lockdown was announced, none of us really knew what we’d face when it came to our golf and our club, but thankfully, some early concerns were soon put to rest.

I’ve been banging on all year about it being a member’s club, and my goodness, a great number of our members demonstrated the affinity in which Harburn is held and when the going got tough, the tough got going.

It really should come as no surprise that you, our members as a whole were fantastic in your support of your club. I really must pay tribute to all of our members who stood by the club when there was no access to the golf course for 8 weeks in the early part of the season. Every member who continued to pay their subscriptions whilst the club and course was closed has played a huge part in ensuring the long-term viability of our club and I salute you all.

Notwithstanding that, when we returned after lockdown, once again, we had a core of members who willingly pitched in and were able to give of their time to help our greens staff recover the course from a period of reduced maintenance and preparation. There were some well-kent faces and some new volunteers and to a man, they all pitched in and helped across various weeks. It was invaluable assistance and the course was all the better for it. On behalf of all the members, I thank you once again.

As I enter the final 3 months of my Captaincy, it’s my pleasure also to once again acknowledge the fantastic staff we have at the club. Our Members Secretary Fiona is so dependable and has no hesitation in going above and beyond for the good of the club and our members. Fiona isn’t just a Member’s Secretary, she’s a sounding board for every query, question, suggestion and gripe that you can think of and handles it in great spirit; she’s an asset to our club.

We had to recruit a new Marketing Executive after Carolyn sadly had to leave the club but Louise Rattray has already settled well to the role and I have no doubt she’ll do great things for Harburn in the coming year.

And of course, our Greens Team. After the most difficult of starts to the season, they all worked exceptionally hard to present the course in the best condition possible. A former Captain Jim Clarkson remarked that in his opinion, the greens were the best he’d seen at Harburn for 25 years. And a returning member Neil Hogarth commented in the summer that he believed the course was as good as he’d seen in 30 years, high praise indeed.

After lockdown, golf enjoyed something of a boom, with a large number of people joining clubs across Scotland to get back to the game and enjoy a safe sport in an outdoor setting. As I’ve reported previously, we recruited circa 100 new members at Harburn and set up new WhatsApp groups to ensure they were as engaged as possible, given that Covid circumstances did not permit the usual new member days. Having surveyed our new members recently, a number of them have responded very positively and commented on feeling welcomed, warmly accepted and included at a golf club for the first time in a long time.

We’re currently blessed at our club with a strong Trustee/Management team and I give thanks to Alan Douglas, Jim McGrane, Mike Harkness and Brian Rooney for their unwavering support during 2020 and indeed throughout my period as Captain.

We’re also fortunate to have an engaged Club Council and my thanks to Janet Hardie, Cynthia Tuckerman, Jim McEwan, Iain Affleck and John Flockhart for all of their time and commitment throughout 2020. John has now decided to take a step back from M&H and Colin Hume will assume the role in January 2021.

Prize Giving and AGM

I’d like to offer my congratulations to our Champion Golfer Chris Curran, our Ladies Champion Jennifer Bryans and to all our other competition winners in 2020. Despite the late start to the season, we did manage to get most of our intended competitions played.

Once again, Covid-19 restrictions dictated that we could not hold anything like a normal prize giving event, which is a real shame; but we did at least manage to have the majority of our prize winners attend for a photo session at the club and a winner’s montage is now up on the club website and has been posted to our various social media accounts.

Previously, I had hoped to hold some form of virtual AGM towards the back end of 2020, however the consensus of opinion amongst Council was simply to hold it over and have a “double” AGM in the Spring of 2021. It would be nice to think that we might be in a position to hold a physical gathering, however, even as the vaccine programme is rolled out, March might be a bit optimistic for that, but we’ll wait and see and plan accordingly.

The Coming Year

The newly introduced Covid-19 restrictions from last weekend means that we’re not out of the woods yet, but in looking at the positives, vaccinations will grow in earnest in 2021 and hopefully, as we enter Spring and Summer, the UK will be moving towards a more positive position.

The 20-year lease for the practice area across the road expired in November just past, however I’m happy to report that we have agreed an extension with the landowner to continue renting the land on an informal 12 month rolling agreement. The landowner has also kindly agreed to a 25% reduction in the lease fee.

Whilst some members may ask why we are increasing the annual fees if we’re having a strong financial year, the answer is simply to allow us to keep investing in equipment for course maintenance.  One of our tractors is now well in excess of 20 years old and long overdue for replacement, it’s planned to do that in the coming season and the cost will be significant at circa £20k.

Summary

In closing, I feel we have a lot of positives to take from what’s been a difficult 2020 and we can look forward to 2021 with confidence, certainly from a golfing perspective.

We still face a slightly unusual end to 2020 with the recent restrictions being put in place, however, please try to remember, they are temporary and we will all get through this.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all Harburn members and their families a safe, Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year for 2021

Yours in golf,

Jim Stewart, Club Captain