In the Spotlight: Outlane Golf Club
Take Stock spoke to readers Caroline and Nick Hirst, the bar steward and chef at Outlane Golf Club in Huddersfield. As the couple celebrate 25 years at the golf club, we spoke to them about their recent refurbishment, and how they’ve used ideas from our magazine to help them drive revenue.
Caroline and her husband applied to Outlane Golf Club as newlyweds aftert they saw an advert for a husband and wife team. They live on the premises in a three bedroom flat where they have raised their three daughters – who, like their parents, all play golf.
“We are settled here; the directors like us and we work well together,” says Caroline. “We know what we can do and it’s going well. But most importantly, we enjoy it, and we get on very well with the members.” With just short of 400 members, Caroline’s job is a busy one. The couple have seven part-time staff helping between the bar and the kitchen.
The bar is open from 11.30am to 11pm every day – with a later bar finish at the weekend – and the kitchen from 11.30-3pm then 5-9pm. The best selling drinks from the bar are their two hand-pull beers – Timothy Taylors sits alongside one of two local blonde beers which they alternate, together with Becks on draught. To entice more golfers to dine following the extensive revamp, the couple are now working on a new menu.
“Now we have refurbished the premises, the next thing to do is the menu,” says Caroline. “Our breakfast sandwiches are always popular and although we use fresh, seasonal ingredients and locally sourced meat, a lot of the members come into the clubhouse for a drink after their game but don’t eat,” says Caroline. “We asked them if it was the menu and although a few said they have to get back home, others asked for healthy options because they are on a diet!”
Therefore, Nick has created a menu that features sandwiches and specials, seasonal salads, a wider selection of vegetables, jacket potatoes, and more chicken and salmon dishes that will hopefully entice members to dine. However, with his customers predominantly being members, and not members of the public, raising revenue is a daily debate.
“The clubhouse is busy on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday during the main competition days, but can be a steady turnover the rest of the week, so we are constantly thinking of new ways to bring in outside custom through events and private functions,” says Caroline.
And one event that was super successful – thanks to a little help from Take Stock – was the club’s first ever beer festival, held last July…
“I was discussing ideas with our new captain and committee to bring in more revenue, when I sat down to read Take Stock and there in front of me was an article called ‘Run Your Own Beer Festival’ – it was fate!” says Caroline. “We read through the article and it gave us the finer details to put the finishing touches to our plans.”
The three-day festival was held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the end of July, and thanks to its roaring success it’s now set to become an annual event.
“We set the beer festival up in our 19th hole – a room just off from our main bar – and used a local company Barfit to come and run a temporary bar,” explains Caroline. “We got 28 different beers and got local companies we use to sponsor us – with wine too. As a thank you we made their logos into large collages and pinned them around the main bar. We advertised the event on our Facebook and Twitter accounts – we even created a beer festival Twitter account – and made three big banners.”
“Customers had to buy vouchers and each one equalled a half pint,” says Caroline. “It was easier that way as no cash was handled and at the end of each day we knew how many half pints had been sold. All in all, it was an amazing event.”
The main club house bar made a profit too. “The takings were up quite phenomenally – which was a nice surprise!” says Caroline. “We found that because not everyone who came liked real ale and bitter, after a couple of tries they headed to the main bar for their preferred drink then back again to try some more real ale.”
They even received a glowing report from CAMRA…
“We were thrilled to be told that we had ticked all the right boxes and made a good job of it,” says Caroline. “And because we are on the border between Huddersfield and Halifax and the only beer festival in the area, they said that the 400 who came will double this year!”
And that’s not the only successful event the club hosted with some help from Take Stock…
“We hadn’t held a Bonfire Night event for 10 years and were thinking of bringing it back when I read the Take Stock feature on Bonfire Night safety; which confirmed that we were capable of running one due to the legal side of it, such as notifying the police to making sure that your own insurance covers public liability,” explained Caroline. “It also made us aware of the little things that sometimes get overlooked like having a paramedic – in our case we were lucky that one of our members is a district nurse who kindly volunteered to be the first aider if needed.”
The club held it on Friday 4 November so they didn’t clash with other local events. The bonfire was built at the bottom of the golf course on waste ground, Nick barbecued burgers, hot dogs and jacket potatoes which were sold for £3 and after a fireworks display there was a children’s fancy dress disco in the clubhouse!
“The event attracted all ages,” added Caroline. “It went really well – and the bar takings were up! Thanks to its success, we are now holding it as an annual event.”
Attracting new and existing members to drink and dine at the clubhouse was the driving force behind captain Marc Webb and Nick and Caroline’s decision for the refurbishment; a modern look while still retaining the club’s heritage and tradition.
“The Environmental Health Office was doing an annual inspection and although everything was fine, they mentioned the interior was looking tired and worn – it was in need of a facelift!” says Caroline. Now, Caroline and Nick are looking forward to a productive year ahead.
“Mother’s Day and Easter are always busy,” says Caroline. “We always serve a carvery for both occasions as that is what the members want. On Mother’s Day we’ll give every mum a hanging basket and at Easter we have an egg hunt for the children.”
Celebrating their 25th anniversary as working stewards is a remarkable and rare achievement, and although they may be the longest-serving in the area they have no plans of hanging up their clubs just yet.
“We are constantly thinking of ways to raise revenue,” said Caroline. “It’s all about trying to keep everyone happy – something we’ll never stop striving to do!”