Royal Portrush has begun a process of engagement with staff over voluntary redundancies as the golf club attempts to deal with the financial impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
After hosting a successful Open Championship last year — when Shane Lowry lifted the famous Claret Jug in front of thousands of spectators — the north Antrim links was expecting more than £2m in pre-booked green fees income in 2020.
However, in a letter to members, the club explained it now expects to earn around £150,000 this year and is budgeting for a £1m loss that will oblige them to make major cost savings.
“Council have decided, as a first step, to ascertain if any staff are interested in voluntary redundancy although the club would review applications based on our operating needs,” the club said in a letter to members, explaining cost-cutting measures would be put in place.
A spokesperson for Royal Portrush stated that the coronavirus pandemic has regrettably had a significant impact on the club’s finances and its business.
“Over 80% of the club’s visitors are from overseas and as a result of the continuing uncertainty caused by the global health crisis many bookings have either been cancelled or postponed,” continued the spokesperson.
“The club is carrying out an ongoing review of all areas of its cost base and staff levels.”
The club added that the decision to carry out the review was taken with “considerable regret” but the management of the club’s finances had to be ensured during the challenging economic times.
“Royal Portrush Golf Club can confirm that it has begun a process of engagement with members of staff and due to the sensitive nature of these decisions the club will be making no further comment on the matter,” the club concluded.
Most of Ireland’s best known, blue-chip links are expecting similar losses to that of Royal Portrush.
It is understood that Portmarnock Golf Club, Co Dublin, is expecting an equally dramatic drop in income this year having taken in €1.33m in subscriptions and €1.61m in green fees in 2019.
The club has written to members explaining that one way to make up for the shortfall caused by the pandemic could be the imposition of a levy of €5,000 per man, spread over three years.
Last summer’s British Open generated more than £100m of economic benefit in Northern Ireland according to a study by organisers The R&A.
According to the study by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) the event generated an economic impact of £45m with £26m directly affecting the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area.
Northern Ireland also gained £37.3m in destination marketing benefit from over 5,400 hours of worldwide television coverage, the report authors said.
Tourism NI said an additional £23.7m was gained in media coverage of PR campaigns surrounding the championship across the island of Ireland and around the world.