It’s not often curling makes news in the off-season.
Guelph Golf and Curling Club (formerly Guelph Country Club) did that this past July when it suspended curling operations for the 2013-14 season.
Curling membership had just seen an increase at the club, which had recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. The club changed its name to incorporate curling in the title.
And curling operations showed a profit. It was a good year.
But that doesn’t paint the whole picture, said Dean Tremain, president of the club’s board of directors. “There was a surplus from the curling, but that didn’t have any fixed costs against it,” Tremain said. “It didn’t have taxes against it, didn’t have administration, staff, salary all those sorts of things.”
In general, curling clubs should have about 100 members per sheet to be sustainable, said Tremain. With 230 members last season for their four-sheet facility, the club was far short of that business model.
It was a board decision to suspend the operations. It was done early so the curling members could make the move over to Guelph Curling Club, if they wanted.
“For us, it’s still about promoting curling in Guelph, and we wouldn’t have done it if there was no alternative solution,” Tremain said.
But even if this was just for curling, Tremain questioned having two facilities in the city.
“The real review comes down to financial and also whether or not Guelph has the capacity to have two curling rinks.”
The club’s fiscal year is Nov. 1 to Oct. 31, so there’s no way to assess the impact as of yet. On paper, things look good.
“We have done a budget obviously for next year, which has us with a surplus, and it’s been many years since we had a surplus,” Tremain said.
All of this was a huge gain for the eight-sheet Guelph Curling Club. Membership swelled to 725 this year, said manager Kathy Brown.
There was a rebirth in an afternoon women’s league that had dwindled to just two sheets. The Tuesday league from Guelph Golf and Curling was brought new life with four sheets worth of teams, said Brown. Even if the golf club brings curling back, Brown hopes the many of the members will now call the Guelph Curling Club their home.
“We are making them welcome. We certainly want them to think of us as their curling club,” Brown said.
One former member of the club believes many of the curlers will be remain at Guelph Curling Club even if the golf club brings back the sport.
Roger McHugh, a non-golfer and the former Ontario Curling Association rep for the country club, resigned after the July announcement.
“It a decision that was made, and it’s unfortunate it was made,” McHugh said. “There probably won’t be curling there again.”
He had high praise for the Guelph Curling Club, which is bustling with influx of new members. “It’s like a bonspiel every night.”
The decision on whether to bring curling back to the golf club won’t be tackled until the annual general meeting in April, said Tremain.
“The decision will be made on what will be the future business model for this facility.”