33% of clubs have closed due to coronavirus pandemic

  • Rolling Road golf Club in Maryland was forced to close

Private clubs have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with 32.9% having closed and an additional 63.2% having reduced operations, according to a survey by the CMAA in the week of March 16th. The numbers of closures is expected to grow as the pandemic spreads. 

The cutbacks have had a major impact on club finances with 75.4% reporting financial loss related to the crisis. The average loss, as of the survey date, was $146,140 and cumulatively it is greater than $31 million. 

Some of the club closures are related to local or state government orders. In California, for instance, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a “stay at home” order, which only allows for essential businesses to remain open. That is also the case for close to 100 million Americans. 

In reaction, a host of golf courses closed. City-run courses also ceased to operate. At least one municipality, San Rafael in the Bay Area, had police remove golfers from a local course, saying they were violating the order. 

For clubs that remain partially open, the top facilities that are open include food and beverage - takeout only (50.7%), golf courses (47.5%), outdoor tennis courts (27.4%), locker rooms (18.2%), and pickleball courts (17.3%). 

At golf courses, many have taken precautionary measures, such as stopping shotgun starts and asking golfers not to remove flag pins. 

One of the larger disruptions has been on the wedding industry, which can be a key component of a private club’s services. In many states, no gatherings of greater than 25 people are allowed. That applies to private clubs. Many couples have postponed their receptions in wake of such measures. 

For clubs with reduced operations, 50.5% have cancelled some or all outside events, and 43.2% have postponed some or all outside events. Only 6.3% have had no cancellations or postponements. 

Since many clubs have limited or no operations, the impact on employment could be devastating. In terms of clubs paying full-time staff during a club shutdown, 54.8% have a policy while 45.2% do not have a policy. While 39.9% of clubs are unsure of the time period they will cover the salary of full-time employees, 22.1% will cover salaries indefinitely, 15.9% of clubs will cover salaries for the next 2 to 4 weeks, and 10.9% will cover salaries for the next 2 weeks. 

As of the date of the survey, only 4.4% of clubs had a member, guest or staff member who was diagnosed with COVID-19, and 97.8% had upgraded their internal cleaning.

The CMAA said that other challenges clubs are facing in response to the coronavirus pandemic include: hiring freezes, dues payments from members, mental stress on staff and members, refunds for social members, seasonal staff uncertainty, travel restrictions for H2B/J1 programs, capital improvement project delays, childcare restrictions, potential layoffs, and member resignations. 

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