Minutes of Members’ Annual General Meeting of Marbella Golf Country Club held on Friday 16th October 2015 at 15.30 hours
John McNamara, President (JMN)
Stuart Patterson, Captain (SP)
Tom Richardson, Competitions Secretary (TR)
Steve Cullen, Secretary & Green Committee Chair (SC)
Yumiko Smith, Committee Member (YS)
Mike Munden, General Manager (MM)
And 31 Members
JMN opened the meeting and welcomed all members of Marbella Golf Country Club (MGCC), Mike Munden (MGCC General Manager), Monty Bordelon (MGCC Club Professional), Satu Kaariainen (MGCC Director of Golf).
JMN also noted that the time of this year’s AGM had been brought forward to 3.30pm from its usual spot of 6.30pm, recognizing that the afternoon timing is more convenient for most Members – and avoids either a long wait at the club or a long journey home and back again for those who have played earlier in the day.
Apologies for absence were received from Greg Peck, Vice Captain.
2. Minutes of Last AGM
The minutes of the last AGM were unanimously approved.
3. President’s Report
JMN reported that the club had enjoyed a very good year and that, despite the decision by Pacific Golf to increase in members’ subscriptions by an amount most Members’ felt unfair, the vast majority of our Members’ thankfully stayed on.
There are two noteworthy points here. First, that MM did all he could to find the right balance between representing the demands and expectations of both Pacific Golf and the Members.
Second, that the decision of Members to stay reflects the very widely held feeling that MGCC is a great place to be a member.
JMN also thanked MM for managing to hold on to the Members’ reserved tee times on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10.00 to 11.00 am, noting that these are probably the easiest times to sell to visitors, especially in the high season. We have a good system in place and we should be proud of the fact that we are able to have these regular competitions that contribute so much to the camaraderie and enjoyment of being a member at this club.
It was noted that prices had also been increased in the bar and restaurant and that these increases had been kept to a minimum.
JMN reported that the Committee has been working well over the past year with meetings held, on average, every two months. At these meetings, issues of interest and concern to the Members were discussed with MM.
JMN closed his report with thanks to
The Committee for their contributions over the year
Stuart Paterson, for his captaincy and representing the President during his absences
Mike Munden and the ground-staff; Heather Munden, Kenny and all the bar/restaurant staff
Satu, Director of Golf, and the caddie-masters & proshop staff; Jess Meakin and the team of marshalls; Monty, MGCC Professional, especially for his commitment and service to Members’ – including the organization of our Wednesday competitions
And, last but not least, the Members of MGCC for their support and friendship.
4. Captain’s Report
SP opened his remarks by saying how much he had enjoyed his year as Captain of MGCC – and how quickly the 12 months have flown by. This was largely due to the Members making this such a friendly and enjoyable club, something that makes us the envy of most clubs on the Costa del Sol.
SP noted that his Monthly Blog appears to have been well received and thanked Members for their positive feedback.
(Note: For Members who are not familiar with the Captain’s Monthly Blog, this can be found in the Members’ section on the Club’s website. To enter the Members’ section, a Log-in and Password are required and these are available from Golf Director, Satu, for those Members who have lost or forgotten them.)
SP reported that he had endeavored to play with as many Members as possible during the course of the past year and very much enjoyed doing so; vowing to do the same, if re-elected.
The year started with a major concern: the previous Captain, TR, had led the club through a 3-year unbeaten run in Interclub competitions. To maintain this run was a daunting challenge but SP was delighted to report that the 100% winning record is still intact.
Also, the Ladies team, started only as recently as 2014, has been doing very well despite limited resources and our congratulations go to Catherine Shiels and the team.
One of the more testing issues has been the formats for the Monday, Wednesday & Friday competitions. The Friday format, in particular, has recently become somewhat contentious.
To recap, on Mondays registration is in four-balls, with Members either choosing their own group in advance or individuals entering their own name in a four-ball for others to add their names. Wednesdays are organized by Club Professional, Monty, in handicap order.
The format for Fridays, however, has been changed 3 times in the past year, in response to negative feedback from Members. One change that was not well received was an attempt to get more mixing of low, middle and high handicap players and the negative response resulted in a decision to change the Friday format to the same as Mondays. Whilst recognizing that it is not going to be possible to meet the hopes and expectations of every single Member all of the time, we have been trying to satisfy the majority for most of the time. However, feedback after the last change has raised the question of whether the initial objections were from the majority or from a more vocal minority.
(Note: This issue is discussed further under Any Other Business.)
One exception to the Friday controversy has been the variation brought by the last-Friday-of-the month (“Fun Friday”) competitions. These have been generally well received and the ‘One-Eyed Jack’ competition hosted by Member, Jack Smith, was particularly successful. We are pleased to announce that this will become an annual event and our thanks go to Jack.
SP urged more members to sign up for the Fun Fridays as the idea is to have an event where members socialize more over a meal after the golf. At 10 Euros per head for a meal, including a drink, it is very good value.
SP closed by thanking his wife, Val, for her support without which he would not be able to fulfill his duties as Captain of MGCC.
5. Course & Clubhouse Report
MM reported that it has been a very productive year, catching up with many works that had not been carried out for some time.
The re-shaping of the 10th fairway. This involved moving 1500 metric tons of earth and laying 1200 sq metres of new Bermuda turf. The landing area on the upper level of the fairway was expanded by 50 metres in length and raised 5 metres. The result is fairer on straight drives from players who do not have great length off the tee but it does bring the left hand bunker into play. The new, lower level of the fairway was shaped to capture balls that previously would have run off to the cart path. It is also raised so that the green is now visible.
The lake on hole 6 has been cleared of reeds, cleaned and dredged.
The bunker in the middle of the 18th fairway 40 m short of the green has been removed. It was rarely in play and not worth the maintenance effort & resources which are better employed elsewhere.
Bio-Rain applications continue on the greens to maintain the condition of the putting surfaces which, for some time, have been amongst the best in the area.
Feeding of fairways and rough has been increased and the cutting heights adjusted as the growing season comes to an end.
New Out-of-Bounds markers have been placed on Holes 1, 5, 8, 13, 14, 15 &17.
Relocation of Ladies tees on holes 3, 10 and 16 and the Men’s tee on hole 13. The RFEG (Spanish Golf Federation) have just visited MGCC to measure the changes and review the ‘slope’ (degree of difficulty) for the course. A new “StrokeSaver” booklet has been produced reflecting these changes and is now available in the Proshop.
(Note post meeting: The RFEG updated the slope rating for the course on 20th October and playing handicaps will be slightly affected. This change will be effective from the qualifying competition on 21 October).
Building has begun on a toilet facility near the cortijo that can be accessed easily from the tees at holes 12, 14 and 16.
The formation of a Green Committee has had a positive impact in providing a link between Members and Club Management and addressing conditioning and presentation of the course. A report from Green Committee Chair, SC, follows.
Clubhouse and Surrounds
Handrails have been installed alongside the road running down to the cart garage, down to the rear car park and between the practice green and the driving range.
Significant improvements have been made to the restaurant menu and food quality.
The menu now also has clear guidance to diners with dietary concerns, such as gluten intolerance, allergy to nuts etc.
MM also announced some of the plans for the coming year:
The 11th green is the worst affected by the incursion of paspallum grass. The experiment on the back left corner of the 16th green was successful but took far too long to complete and bring that area back into play. This would not be a suitable procedure for the 11th green and therefore the entire surface will be replaced with new bent grass turf. This will be done in 2 stages, the rear half first. The apron will also be re-turfed with bent grass to provide a barrier protecting the green from creeping Bermuda grass. At the same time, the back of the green may be reshaped taking the putting surface closer to the back right bunker.
A new chemical mixture developed by a greenkeeper at another course appears to have been successful in eliminating paspallum grass from greens and this will be tested as part of our effort to eliminate paspallum grass from all our greens.
The pedestrian bridge on Hole 6 that was washed away several years ago will be rebuilt.
Carpets in bar, dining room, hallway and stairs will be replaced. This work will commence in December 2015.
MM’s report was followed by a presentation by SC on behalf of the Green Committee:
The Green Committee (GC) was established shortly after last year’s AGM. GC members are Monty Bordelon (MGCC Club Pro), Greg Peck, Hugh Craig, Steve Cullen & Mike Munden (General Manager).
The role of the GC is to liaise with Course Management to help maintain & develop the course to the satisfaction of the club membership & players.
GC responsibilities are to help Course Management develop expected standards of maintenance & presentation and any future development plans for the course, whilst keeping in mind the financial capability of the club.
The GC has formally met regularly throughout with many ad-hoc, informal exchanges with MM in between. Conditions and problems were discussed and reported, with recommendations, to the Main Committee.
Given the inevitable overlap with MM’s report on the course and clubhouse, SC’s aim was to provide a pictorial summary of the many improvements made over the past year.
As MM had already pointed out, much greater clarity has been brought to the course boundaries, water hazards and lateral water hazards with new posts positioned correctly.
One of the biggest concerns for some time had been the condition of the fairways. There is no doubt that presenting the fairways in excellent condition throughout the year is a major challenge given that (a) it had been several years since a full maintenance programme was carried out, (b) we have Bermuda grass that lies dormant in the winter months and (c) that we allow carts on the fairways. Cart traffic brings inevitable heavy wear and tear – but some of this damage is avoidable.
In spring 2015, the first complete fairway maintenance programme for over 8 years was carried out. This, together with adjusting the cutting height has produced a significant improvement in the condition of the fairways, as has installing small green & white stakes to direct the flow of cart traffic thus allowing worn areas to recover. The presentation has also been improved by having a clearly defined fairway with a ‘first cut’ of rough.
Having this longer grass alongside the fairways has also reduced the punishing roll-off to the left on holes 1 & 7.
Badly worn areas have been recovered on the right side of holes 2, 5, 8, 12 & 13 and to the left side of hole 10 near the green.
Most of the green surrounds have been markedly improved with an obvious collar and an area of fringe/apron. The impact on appearance and playability has been most notable on holes 1, 6 & 7. The apron has also dramatically reduced the frequency of unfair roll-off from the 1st green – a problem that has troubled many a player for years.
Also new flagsticks & flags have been installed in all holes from September 2015.
SC closed his remarks with thanks to colleagues on the Green Committee for their time, effort and commitment, to Mike Munden and the ground-staff for the excellent work they have done over the past 12 months and, last but not least, to MGCC Members for looking after our course through careful driving of carts, repairing divots, raking the greens and repairing pitch-marks.
6. Election of President
JMN expressed some concern at being unable to find formal verification of an earlier agreement to a change in the rules governing the election of the Club President; in particular, whether or not this change had been ratified by the AGM. Past President, Robbert Verboon informed the meeting that the change had indeed been passed at a prior AGM.
In order to remove any doubt, JMN put the proposal to the meeting and, after some discussion on whether candidates would need to have already served time on the Committee, all agreed that candidates eligible for election as President would be as per Rule 7 which states:
The President, who will be elected annually by the members, will be a Life Member or an Annual Member who has been a member for five consecutive years. The President can only remain in office for five years from the date of first elected.
7. Election of Officers and Committee Members
John McNamara was unanimously re-elected as President.
Also unanimously re-elected were:
SP as Club Captain
Greg Peck as Vice Captain
Tom Richardson as Competitions Secretary
Steve Cullen as Committee Secretary & Green Committee Chair
Yumiko Smith as Committee Member
8. Any other business
Martin Ingham commented on the bunkers, noting that some are not in very good condition. MM agreed and committed to including a review of bunker maintenance in future coursework plans.
Jerry Draddy remarked that sprinklers had been operating on fairways up to 9.00-9.30 am and suggested that this late watering might be the reason for some of the fairways being very wet in some areas. MM explained that the sprinklers are set to start at 8.30 pm until 8.00 am and operate in rotation, controlled by 40 computer programmes through the numerous green satellite boxes around the course. If there has been some watering around 9.00am then that would be manual checking and testing by green-keeping staff. Regarding the amount of water being applied, MM explained that due to the extremely dry conditions in this part of the world, irrigation of the course at current levels is necessary to prevent the grass from burning up in the hot summer months. Furthermore, the length of grass on the fairways has been raised slightly to reduce the tight lies that we have experienced for a number of years.
Martin Ingham asked about the speed of the greens as, in his observation, they seem to be little slower than before. MM replied that, to his understanding, the speed of the greens has not changed. He did concede that the water table here contains calcium and that with irrigation this could have some effect. The lack of rain over the past 6 months has meant more use of irrigation. However, the cutting sequence and heights have not altered and the speed regularly checked.
Jerry Draddy noted that there seems to be a larger number of pitch-marks in the greens this year. MM replied that this was undoubtedly directly related to the number of rounds played – which is at an all time high this year. The vast majority of rounds are played by visitors, many of whom unfortunately seem not to take as much care of our course as they might their own. Several members commented that it was their habit to repair several pitch marks on each green as they play and it is good to note that our members take this trouble to look after our course. Rod Owen added that he had seen on one course a little note given to players at the start of their round that explained how a pitch mark, if left un-repaired, progresses over time, the damage it causes and the length of time it takes to recover. It was suggested that we issue the same kind of notice.
TR mentioned the heavy wear and damage to the area to the left of the 17th Tee, noting that this would most likely have been caused by members, since members’ competitions comprise the majority of shot-gun starts with the 17th Tee almost always in use as one of the starting tees. The meeting asked that members try as much as possible to avoid damaging the area adjacent to the tee box. However, it is recognized that there is no turning circle and it would not be worthwhile to have one built for the sole purpose of carts arriving for a shot-gun start from the direction of the 18th hole.
Martin Ingham then referred the meeting back to the Captain’s comments regarding the format for the Friday members’ competitions and pointed out that some members, for a variety of reasons, did not wish to be paired with certain other members. For example, we may have a group of low handicappers who always want to play among themselves and do not wish to play with high handicappers. Indeed, to be fair, some high handicappers may prefer not to play with low handicappers. However, if some members do not wish to mix then it becomes unfair for those members who are prepared to mix, as the latter would have to mix more often and therefore get fewer chances to play with their closer friends. Norman Cameron felt that we should mix up the groupings as much as possible, as that is a key feature of members’ roll ups – encouraging and enabling members to play with as many of the other members as possible. Tom Richardson added that the change of Fridays’ format to the registration in groups of 4, was a u-turn made after a vocal minority objected to the random grouping system that had been initiated just a month or two earlier. Jerry Draddy pointed out that one of the reasons that some members do not wish to play with certain other members is the difference in preferences in having a wager on the “buggy match.” Rod Owen observed that one of the problems with pre-registration in 4-balls created difficulties if one of the 4 subsequently had to cancel at the last minute. In view of the many different factors involved – and the obvious fact that there is no single solution that would suit everyone – JMN suggested that the decision on how to resolve this issue was the Captain’s (SP) call. SP pointed out that only a very few teams always played together and avoided mixing and, that being so, asked if there was any need to change from the current system. But mindful of the comment he made earlier in the Captain’s report about not being sure if the vociferous objections were from the majority or a vocal minority, asked for a meeting for a show of hands.
The vote was an overwhelming majority in favor of reverting back to the old registration sheet as a simple list of names with the groupings to be made on the morning of the competition by the organizer.
Monty Bordelon requested stronger adherence to the rule that any member registered for a competition that is subsequently unable to attend, must telephone the club before 8.30 am of the morning of the competition.
9. Close of Meeting
JMN closed the meeting, thanked all for attending and announced that the club would be generously providing snacks and drinks in the bar.