Golf Course Management and its challenges, with Mark Moore

Mark Moore of Moor Allerton Golf Club discusses Golf Club Security and Support

Club Insure sat down with Mark Moore, General Manager of Moor Allerton Golf Club, who spoke openly about the unprecedented challenges golf clubs are currently facing. He speaks on the importance of grassroots sports, and why implementing security measures and reaching out to your local community is crucial. He answers what are the high risk areas on the course, and what support is available for clubs.

Mark has previously worked with us on GUR Magazine: Golf Under Repair, and is able to cover a lot of ground in this short interview. We’ve noted down below the main takeaways from our conversation, and linked to how other clubs can get involved with Club Insure.

Mark talks about his past life before becoming the General Manager of Moor Allerton Golf Club. Mark considers his previous career as very privileged; his golfing ability and tutelage enabled him to become an advanced level golf professional. This mainly consisted of coaching pros who went on to win European tours. In his early forties he switched careers, doing a degree in business management, and now as Moor Allerton General Manager.

Mark discusses his successes with Moor Allerton. Moor Allerton managed to maintain membership numbers through the COVID pandemic, and have come out of that difficult period stronger. He has made changes, implementing fair payments across the board for members, as well as streamlining the payment process.

We ask Mark to speak on golf courses and the local community:

Mark lists off a raft of reasons why golf courses are positive for the community: “Most golf clubs employ between twenty and fifty people. It protects green belt – of Moor Allerton’s 230 acres, about 70% is uncut. We have a lot of protected areas for wildlife, including bug lodges, and a family of deer living on the course as well as foxes. It’s very wildlife friendly whilst also providing an outlet for local people to play a sport. Coming out of COVID, people could play golf before really being able to do anything else, so golf courses are very important for the community.”

How important is the preservation of grassroots sport?

Mark mentions his journey in grassroots sports, battling his twin brother in football and rugby. At first, Mark really struggled with golf, it wasn’t a natural fit. But being a counting sport, and a particularly hard sport, players quickly become better at golf the more they practice. Mark notes this as a powerful life lesson – there is a reward for effort. It’s also largely about manners, etiquette, and how to interact with adults; proving ideal life skills for children.

“From Moor Allerton’s perspective, and golf in general, there is a perceived barrier for entry. It’s perceived to be very expensive, which is not the case for Moor Allerton. We offer free and very cheap junior memberships at various ages, sourcing clubs and equipment from members. We provide coaching, often funded by the club, to help people learn etiquette, safety on the course, and technique.”

Grassroots sports for Mark is massively important, whilst he notes golf teaches certain life skills that other sports don’t quite get as far along with.

What are the challenges faced by golf clubs and country clubs?

Marks admits the elevated costs and economic pressures are hitting all businesses hard, golf courses especially. “Sports clubs are seeing massive inflation, greater than those felt by most of the country. These needs passing across one way or another to the consumer. We’ve limited that as a golf club – our increases in costs are significantly lower than the national average. We have a lot of spare capacity on the golf course, being a 27 hole club.”

“Beyond the costs and inflationary pressures, there’s a challenge in golf which has been going on for sometime – some would say as long as thirty years – which is people consume golf differently. It used to be a social thing, people would play golf and eat afterwards, changing into a jacket and tie. It was seen very much as for the elite in society. Golf is now more accessible, we have trades people and young people. But they consume golf differently – they want to turn up, play and leave. It puts pressures on us, including costing a catering service and putting on competitions. It’s definitely more valuable for people to hang around a little bit longer.”

“We can’t change them (the way they consume golf). It’s up to us to find a way to provide for them and make them want to keep coming back.”

How have Moor Allerton overcome the current challenges faced nationally by golf clubs?

“Good practice” says Mark “and reflecting on what you are doing. We have weekly meetings, and a close knit team.”  Moor Allerton reviews everything regularly, whether it’s the utility providers or the fertilisers. Adam, Head Greenkeeper at the club, makes his own fertiliser with seaweed! Good business practices are how Moor Allerton has managed to keep out of trouble in this difficult period nationally for sports clubs.

What steps has Moor Allerton taken to improve security?

Mark takes us through a few factors which accounts for a golf clubs security risk. “Golf clubs are rural, they have large amounts of expensive machinery, and are large. It’s a challenge to keep a golf club secure.”

Mark then explains the deterrents he has in place, which then add up to improve the club’s security.

“We have a high quality CCTV system. Motion detectors both in the clubhouse and at the greenkeeper’s sheds. High powered lighting that will come in at night. We are looking at putting in a flat at the golf club, so we would have someone living on site. We have a partnership with a security company who do patrols. We also continually review it.”

Mark understand that the better the security of a club, and the more the operators are shown to care about security and risk aversion, the better chance insurers will accept a policy on good terms.

The clubhouse is the most valuable section of a golf course and is what will be highly focussed upon during a visitation. We ask Mark what he’s done to reduce the risk of a clubhouse-related claim?

“We have internal CCTV, which we’ve never yet had to rely on. We have grills on the windows, and we have roller shutter on every external window or doors. The entire building on an evening can be locked down.

We asked Mark about the high risk areas at golf clubs?

With any golf club, the pro shop contains expensive equipment. It’s also a place on the course which accepts anyone entry, regardless of their membership. Awareness from staff of suspicious people and communication with other clubs helps become aware of would-be thieves. We’ve implements physical defences at Moor Allerton, including bollard sand roller shutters.”

“Other vulnerable areas include the greenkeeper’s sheds, but at Moor Allerton its closed off and very well defended. Other risks include fire, we have a fire alarm system, but because of the nature of old clubhouses, this need constant monitoring and updating.”

We asked Mark, quite pointedly, what were his expectations of a golf insurance broker?

Mark explains he wanted a specialist. “I wanted someone to explain to me, what’s available, why it’s available, why I need it, what may change in the future, what my coverage needs to be and how it’s going to be done. On every front that information was provided for me by Club Insure.”

“When I sat down with Kingsley (Melville, Associate Director of Sales at Club Insure) I was pinging questions at him and he answered them all impeccably. It was important for me because I had to relay answers to the board. Therefore the fact that I had the information after our consultation, and the piece of mind, that meant I could pass on my recommendation to our board.

Has Moor Allerton made a claim? And how was it dealt with?

Mark explains, “We had a burglary in June of last year, which was on the first day of the bank holiday. Yet, the response was immediate from Club Insure. We had tradespeople in instantly, all arranged, and were up and remained operational! The support was fantastic.

The fact that it was at such a challenging time and we still got coverage and support was fantastic for us.

Thank you to Mark Moore for his time and honest conversation.

Want mor efrom Mark Moore? See what he has to say about Club Insure.

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