Recently, I had a beer at my local golf club with a golfing enthusiast buddy of mine who is in event management and she made the rather terse comment that her company would never think of hosting an event in a golf club. The furniture’s too drab, too old school, it would be embarrassing for hosts and attendees, she said. Yes, it is a sad truth that many golf clubs have a nineteenth hole that has not been renovated since Arnold Palmer was the ‘king’. Golfers, in the past, have been dour traditionalists who have scorned fashions and trends as mere, flibbity gibbit.
The tired old tables covered in table clothes, not seen since the Crimean War, and the chairs sunk in depression by structural decay and endemic neglect. Even the barman or barmaid, has not sparkled since the spring of the Menzies’ years. Golf club furniture: stubborn fustiness prevails and new ideas are thin on the ground. General Managers of golf clubs are slowly coming around to change, because the economic climate is forcing it upon them. Clubs are going broke from declining memberships and poorly patronised facilities. Today’s golfer does not have the time to sit around and listen to the tales of the ‘oldest member’; as constructive as they may be. Modern men and women are time poor, we are told frequently. It is in and out for a quick eighteen holes around the golf course, and maybe a lemon squash at the finish.
What if the clubs had habitable furniture; something that might inspire a prolonged stay? A chair which was kind on the eye and even friendlier to a tired bottom, might make the world of difference. GMs would be well advised to spend some time at furniture stores road testing tables and chairs. Golf needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty first century; or it will soon be as popular as speaking Latin and considered as credible as the study of astrology.
Golf clubs can retain some old world décor, of course, but it needs to be top drawer examples of the craft. Retro styles are available and a properly themed interior design could create a unique ambience for visitors and members. Club houses could feature beautifully turned wooden chairs and tables, polished or raw, with leather seats and parquet floors. Combining this with state of the art, but discreetly placed, extra wide LED screens to keep twenty first century functionality on tap for events and the member’s competition scores.