Successful golf club accounting with Kirkwood Wilson Accountants

Posted 12/02/2015
Successful golf club accounting with Kirkwood Wilson Accountants

When running the accounting for a golf club, it helps to have an accountant who knows the financial landscape of private golf clubs inside and out. Caroline Wilson, Managing Director of Kirkwood Wilson Accountants, is that woman. She knows what it takes to ensure a golf club’s accounting is above par. A keen golfer herself, Caroline was enlisted by her local club to get a grip of their finances – and the results were truly impressive.

Why seek professional accounting guidance for a golf club?

In the current climate of decreasing membership numbers and the rising cost of maintaining high-quality facilities, it may seem at odds for a golf club to seek the professional guidance of an accountancy firm. But astute financial planning has never been more important for the survival and prosperity of golf clubs in Britain today. 

Strategic golf club accounting could actually be the best investment a club could ever make. Particularly when that accountant has extensive knowledge of the practical running of a golf club, just as Caroline Wilson does.

We caught up with Caroline to talk in-depth about specific golf club accounting and the careful management of a private club’s financial landscape.

Hi Caroline! Can you explain your experience of specific accounting for a golf club?

I suppose you could say I have experience from the inside. I have acted as Finance Chair and been very closely involved with the practical running of the financial function of a private golf club. So I am very experienced in managing the accounts for a private golf club, and understand the challenges likely to be faced.

And what are the financial issues you see golf clubs facing today?

Well, it is reported that private golf clubs are seeing a decline in membership numbers, particularly for women. More clubs are offering different types of membership deals, such as five- and six-day membership packages, and these inevitably impact on income.

There is also a lot of competition for green fee income and clubs are faced with the decision of whether to enter the “cheap golf” market or keep up their prices in a bid to retain some prestige.

And, of course, many clubhouses are ageing and require significant investment to keep on top of the wear and tear. Increasing regulation for health and safety, and fire risk, results in constant expenditure requirements.

This regulation also extends to course expenditure and every year it appears that another health and safety ruling must be applied. Members also demand the highest standards in drainage, irrigation and appearance of the course. All of this must be funded amid the challenging climate of stalling income. 

These factors have an impact on how we manage the accounts for a golf club, and should be considered when working on an account such as this.

You were enlisted by your local golf club for your expertise. How were you able to help them?

We first decided to use a standard Sage accounting system but also developed some bespoke management reports to give us the level of detail we required. We were able to monitor the monthly management accounts both against previous years and against budget on a monthly and year-to-date basis. Following from the introduction of the Sage accounting system, once they were comfortable and familiar with processes, we moved them onto Xero and Receipt Bank to ensure they were able to execute their accounting needs with ultimate ease.

In addition, we introduced a number of reconciliations to double-check the accuracy of the recording function. Because of the accuracy of the monthly accounts, the year-end accounts were produced quickly and without any changes.

How do these accounting solutions help golf clubs make the most of their finances?

These types of accounting systems ensure golf clubs have better control of their finances. Expenditure can be planned in a much more proactive way on the best facilities for their members, and issues can be flagged and discussed as soon as they arise.

It also helps to make the golf club more professional in its approach to financial control. In the past, it was customary for a golf club to have a secretary who managed all of the club’s administration. But it is becoming increasingly difficult nowadays to find people who have all of the necessary skills, without having to pay a fortune in salary.

With the Xero accounting system, however, the golf club only needs a basic bookkeeper to input the entries. The rest of the accounting function can be outsourced, leaving the secretary to deal with the all-important golf club matters.

We are happy to say that once we had assisted the golf club through their new accounting processes, they were up to date and knowledgeable on digital cloud based accounting software.

Have these accounting measures led to any unexpected savings for golf clubs?

Yes, they have in my experience. We would strongly recommend that clubs should simply have a look at their constitution and carefully examine what currently happens. For example, some clubs still have an audit of their records, even though the audit threshold was increased many years ago and they do not need one.

If not an audit, then there will almost certainly be an “independent examination” of the records. If the production of the accounts is outsourced to a reputable, qualified firm of accountants, then these costs could very well be saved and invested in the club’s facilities and daily running costs.

For more information about Kirkwood Wilson Accountant’s golf club accountancy services, please contact us or speak to one of our dedicated team members today on 01704 546000.

Posted 12/02/2015