Newsletter December 2017

Newsletter December 2017

This is the last Newsletter from the Board of Directors who have served the last four years. The Newsletter is this time slightly different as it is more of a summary of experiences made over the years. Half of the Directors have in fact served eight years and we would be happy if our experiences can be of some use for the future. After four years as Vice President and and the last four years as President I have also chosen to be a little bit more personal below.

From January 1 we have a new Board of Directors and it feels good that three of the Directors including the incoming President have been members of the current Board. That should secure a certain amount of continuity! The new Board has promised to introduce themselves in the next Newsletter.

An important and unfortunately general experience is that it is difficult to reach several members with information about the Club. We have made quite some efforts to each month during high seasons publish Newsletters on the Club homepage and also send these Newsletters as emails to all members with a valid email address. However, a rather disappointing statistic shows that out of the emails in English in average only 60% are opened, the rest goes probably straight to the waste bin!? And out of those in Spanish only 35% are opened!!
One explanation may of course be that the Newsletter are published only in two languages, but understanding how the new young generation today are so used to catch information in several different languages, this problem might disappear over time.

New members
The last years we have got many new members. Based on questions and sometimes statements, it is obvious that some new, and perhaps also “old” members, don´t fully understand the Club´s history and the agreements that today are the foundation of the Club´s operation. I think that it should be a minimum requirement, before having too many opinions about the Club´s operation, to have studied the two most important documents a) our Statues b) the maintenance agreement between Campo de Golf and the Club. Both documents are published on the homepage under Members Area.

We are different!
We are a very different golf club! We are of many different nationalities, most of us are guests in a country with perhaps different traditions and values. The “age pyramid” in our Club is quite different from that in other clubs. We have none employees, we are dependent on contractual partners when it comes to maintenance and administration. We can´t point at a club director or a green keeper and tell them how and when we want things done! Instead we must negotiate, often with vague contract formulations as support! We have no financial muscles. All club work is done by volunteers and without any remuneration. Many around us including some functions in the Spanish Golf Federation regard us only as a golf society without a golf course. Etc,etc,etc....

However, the truth is also that we are a Club with great members and we have to our disposal a golf course that you never get tired of!

Please find below some experiences from different areas:

Our course
Very few will question our course when it comes to a challenging lay out! Sure, the course will never be a championship course, it is too short and there are no room for extensions. Those of us how are long time members will hopefully agree that the current condition of the course is better than in the past. Even our infamous bunkers have lately been quite playable. The last years major problem is without doubt our tee areas, which have clear problems to recover from the yearly maintenance.
What for many players might be most disturbing are “landscaping factors” like badly maintained vegetation, areas without grass and a general littering up. To take care of these areas would certainly improve the course reputation, even if they don´t impact the play of the course as such.

Accessibility to the course/Tee time situation
As most of the members know, we pay Campo de Golf to maintain our course by a) our yearly member fees and b) by letting Campo have 50% of the total tee times which will bring greenfee income.
The 50-50 split is based on that maximum 500 shares will be sold. If more than 500 are sold there is an adjustment clause giving the Club more tee times. As an example, if 620 shares were sold the split would instead be 40-60 in the Club´s favor.
As probably all have noticed, today the 50% limitation during high seasons is creating a rather serious restriction.
Without in any way criticize the members that put down a fantastic effort to go from a “ wild West” situation between owners and the shareholders to a structured agreement, it can now be said that it is not here the problem arises. No, the problem is based on the fact that earlier in many cases one share meant one player. Today, almost without exception, new shareholders are using their rights to add an active Family member. It is easy to say now, but the above mentioned adjustment formula should have included the numbers of all members paying the full yearly fee to Campo, not only number of shareholders.
During the beginning of this Board´s mandate period, we tried to tackle this issue. The problem was accentuated by the fact that some shareholders pointed at the formulation in our Statues “Full Members (= active shareholders, my remark) will have in any case priority over the Family members for the use of the Club facilities and services” (Article 11).
A work group was created and proposed an allocation method and a booking system that was decided on by the Board. The main idea was that the number of allocated tee times would be per share (not per paying member). This was the only way to follow the Statues. Another way would have been to change the Statues, but it was assumed that such a change would not get accepted with the necessary 2/3 majority.
A condition for the decided allocation(6 in advance bookable tee times per share and week) was based on an estimation of a certain number of full paying Family member in the future and that the rules for advanced bookings were followed.
Unfortunately, it can now be seen that a) the number of full paying Family members has increased dramatically and b) several members are not loyal to the published booking rules!!

My opinion is that this might be the Club´s major problem in the future and it might need both changes of the Statues and a better control over the whole booking process. One reason for the difficulties to control the bookings is that today the booking process is outsourced to Campo de Golf. Another reason is our quite unique tradition to allow monthly bookings for large groups without requirements on specified players.

The last eight years we have tried to introduce different types of Club competitions in order to get a “Club feeling” reaching beyond the traditional “country groups”. We have to admit that we have not succeeded. There is a rather strong tradition to run smaller and regular competitions in some kind of “language groups”. After having had to “beg” members to come and play Club tournaments, we gave up.
This means that we the last years have concentrated on playing only the Orihuela Costa Trophy in April, an invitation tournament which gives the Board some funding for the the year and a “Competition weekend” in the autumn that also includes the Club Championship over two days. Furthermore informal “Ryder and Solheim” Cups have been played.
I would certainly welcome some new ideas from the incoming Board.

Members administration
Mainly because of insistent efforts by our Vice President, Svein Hilmersen we have now a well working members administration system including a members database. It is also well synchronized with Campo de Golf´s administration of our shares and yearly fees.
However, it is impossible to keep the information up to date if not the members actively participate with for example address changes, yearly choice of member status for household members etc.
Please help the new Board to maintain a useful administration system!

Campo de Golf
Over the years the working relations with our maintenace partner, Campo de Golf, have varied. This Board has tried to create a win-win relation. Campo de Golf is a businessdriven private company which has to show a positive financial result to the owners but as a supplier of maintenance they also has to fulfill their contractual obligations to their customer, our Club. The fact that our mutual maintenance agreement doesn´t always specify and describe detailed deliveries often result in different opinions of fulfillment.
However, we think that we today have reached an acceptable working relation with Campo de Golf.

Finally and perhaps most important
I would like to thank the current Directors for contributions, not always so appreciated but so necessary! Ay the same time I would like to wish the new Board with David Barrett in the lead a big GOOD LUCK! If you need us you know where we are.

And of course to all members: thanks for your support and understanding and may you and your family have a real Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Bengt Viebke
President Club de Golf Villamartin




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