In challenging times, it has been pleasing for the club to see six individuals come forward to date and take out one of our new membership categories – Platinum Membership.
This is a unique and limited opportunity, offering various benefits to the Platinum member, priced at £10,000. Investment in this category will go a long way to securing the future of the club during this period of the coronavirus pandemic.
We talked to two of our new Platinum members, Les Steel and Bernard Ledwith, to not only highlight their love for Brora but also how they anticipate their financial support making a difference.
To both of you, what is your history with Brora GC?
Bernard: “I moved to Brora in 2005, having never heard of Brora before – never mind the golf course! We bought the house on Golf Road for the view. If you look over your shoulder on the 18th tee, our house is just behind you. My wife decided it a good idea that I learn to play. After 11 lessons from the pro at the time and 473 lessons from the members (still ongoing), I can honestly say golf has transformed my life.
“Soon afterwards I became heavily involved in the BOBs (Brora Old Boys) and was captain for a while. I’m currently captain of The Caithness and Sutherland Seniors Golfing Society. I was very lucky to learn to play on such a magnificent course in a very beautiful location. My handicap stubbornly remains high, as are my hopes of achieving mediocrity. A challenge every day to me, but Brora golf course never disappoints.”
Les: “I’m very passionate about the club. I have a holiday home here, one of the apartments running down the side of the 18th. I was born and raised in Aberdeen and have lived in Edinburgh since graduation (1979), also playing my golf as a member at Craigmillar Park since the early 1980s.
“My mother was from Brora, plus four uncles and others, so we would have holidays here most summers. Consequently, myself and my two sisters love the area and we make use of the apartment for the extended family on their visits. Brora is a friendly, safe, peaceful place with a gentler pace of life plus a magnificent golf course. I joined the club about five to six years ago and come here frequently. It’s a magical place, great value for golf and it’s lovely to come for a few days at a time.”
Do you have any particular favourite moments at the course / club? Favourite holes?
Bernard: “I am a huge fan of Golf Week in May and play either well (on a four-year cycle it seems) or go home with my tail between my legs. For me, Golf Week at Brora is the highlight of my golfing season.”
Les: “Overall, it’s a great course. I’ve always found just walking by the sea is so relaxing. I did get a hole-in-one at the 13th last year, so I can say I like that hole! You play golf for 50 years and then, all of a sudden, two aces come along within a few months of each other – one at Brora and the other at Craigmillar Park. Like buses! I also played the 5 Day Open for the first time last August which was great.”
Given the coronavirus pandemic and the expected loss of visitor income for Brora, how pleased have you been to see the club react and get the ball rolling to seek more income this year?
Bernard: “Since I arrived in this small remote village, I soon realised how important visitors are to the survival of the golf club. Local membership is small and membership fees remarkably low for a course of this quality. The golf club needed to reach out to its worldwide fan base, as well as its local members, in order to get financial aid. Many golf clubs worldwide will disappear over the next few months. We could not allow Brora to be one of them. The committee were quick to respond to the need and social media is by far the most powerful way to get your message across. During my career, it was in its infancy. I know enough about it now that, used wisely, it can transform a business literally overnight. Brora committee acting quickly, as they did, has given us a fighting chance of survival – but much more is needed.”
Les: “It looked like the club were set for a very good year from visitor income. The local members get an unbelievably good deal for their annual membership, so there is such a dependence on visitors. It’s great to see the club being proactive.”
You are very kind in taking out Platinum membership. What prompted you to do this? You obviously felt in a position that you could help.
Bernard: “I was always going to do my bit in some shape or form. I think anybody who has an affinity with this place has the means to help out, as there are various options. I chose the Platinum route as it is the best way for me personally to do my bit, simple as that. We all have choices to make in life. I had already bequeathed a sum to the golf club on my demise (may it be a long way off) so decided to bring it forward. Losing a holiday this year has also freed the purse strings, a little. Everything helps.”
Les: “I’m not a millionaire, but I had some disposable cash from my relatively modest lifestyle. So I’m in the fortunate position of being able to take out Platinum membership. Having bought a holiday home here, you could say I have vested interest in ensuring the club’s survival… to make sure I can play! I’ve effectively paid 20 years of golf at once, so I’m giving the money to Brora in effect rather than putting it in the bank or into stocks and shares.”
What would you say to other people thinking of offering their support to Brora?
Bernard: “No one expects more than anyone can afford to give. Just imagine, if you can, what Brora would be like without the golf club. A nightmare scenario. We are already seeing stories of desperation surrounding small businesses. Cash flow is vital to keep a small business going. The golf club cannot just shut up shop completely. Within a few weeks without attention the greens will become unplayable and the fairways unkempt. We all have a vested interest in keeping Brora Golf Club on the map.”
Les: “The club have made an encouraging start. I’m happy to be a Platinum member and would encourage others to do what they can to ensure survival of this gem of a course, depending on their financial position.”
For more information on Platinum Membership, please visit the home page of our website.