Founded in 1890, Dungannon is a well-maintained parkland course which challenges all levels of player, from the beginner to the scratch golfer. The course was designed by the notorious open champion Darren Clarke and Patrick Merrigan, challenging elite players to complete the course in as low a score as possible. In May 2017, I began to work as a part time member of bar staff in Dungannon Golf Club’s restaurant. In the short three years that I have been part of the members of staff at the club, I have had to adapt to some changes made in the workplace, but none of these changes compare to the changes that have been put into place due to the ongoing Corona Virus Pandemic.
The Course Itself
When the country itself went first into lockdown in March 2020, Dungannon Golf Club had to announce the closure of the course for the foreseeable future. This was announced via the clubs social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Also, all members of the club received an email announcing that the course would be closed until further notice. This caused quite some outrage as the members of the club were paying a membership fee for a course that could not be currently used.
The Club then received some hateful tweets and dull Facebook comments from the outraged members. In terms of the long term affect this gets us thinking; will members cancel their membership for the next upcoming years as they were not refunded for the months lost due to the pandemic? Will members stop giving money to the club for fundraisers and course improvements? Generally, this decision made by the council on making the members continue to pay their fees brought nothing but bad publicity to the club and damage to their name.
In May 2020 when the course was able to re-open, the clubs council members made the decision to host a meeting in relation to the pervious decision they had made on not putting a hold on membership fees throughout the few previous months. They had realised that the members were not happy with the decision they had made and therefore paid each member 10% back of their annual fees of £550. Once the course had reopened, it was the busiest it has been in over a decade with the timesheets being booked out continuous weeks and weeks!
In early March 2020 “Dungannon Golf Club Restaurant” announced the permanent closure of their kitchen as it had been bought over by new management and would open after the refurbishment of the premises was completed. Unfortunately due to the corona virus, this process was delayed two months and the new restaurant “The Claret Jug” only got to open its doors for the first time on the 3rd of October. With no tanks to the virus, the Claret Jug missed out on just less than two full months of business.
However, thanks to the new and improved menu the Claret Jug has provided, business is booming! Even though the new restaurant has only been opened for 2 short weeks, it has been receiving nothing but outstanding reviews on Facebook and Instagram. The Jug has now also added an early bird menu along with extended opening hours which they have advertised via their social media sites. Also, social distancing along with health and safety precautions have been set in place so ensure that everyone is as safe as possible. New members of staff have been trained to the best of their ability to ensure that these precautions are taken seriously and are met. Thanks to the hard working members of staff, the Claret Jug has already built up and excellent reputation for their delicious grub and safe premises.
I began working as a member of the bar staff in the club just over three years ago. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the bar had to shut for a number of months from mid-March onwards. Just as things got up and running again, the bar is now shut again due to the new local lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland. Over the short month I was back working in the bar, I had to take part in further training to adapt to new change due to the virus.
Due to social distancing and other restrictions, I was trained in using the new app which was developed in order for all customers to order drinks via their phone directly to the table as the bar was table service only. On this app, the customers would leave a rating and post in comment section on the experience they had in the club. Due to the excellent service we would provide, these positive comments and ratings would be posted on our social media sites allowing the bar to gain further custom and promote the bar for free.
Finally, the bar has decided to host their own free drink delivery services over these next few weeks due to a closure of the premises to hopefully keep business booming and our loyal customers happy.
Robbie Wallace is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University.