Competitive Side of Golf Should be Pushed to Draw New Members
There have been many suggested routes to attracting new people into the game, but golfers who used to play a variety of sports at competitive amateur level - whether it be football, cricket, rugby, tennis etc - could be an overlooked tool for clubs seeking to draw additional members.
They should be offered financial encouragement to volunteer as a recruitment force.
That’s the view of one of the most experienced administrators in the sport, Mark Stancer, a director of the Golf Management Group who works with clubs in the Midlands and the South West.
GMG are a purchasing alliance who help 700 clubs across the UK in partnership with England Golf, Wales Golf and Scottish Golf.
Created in 2010, GMG announced recently they have exceeded £3m in savings for those clubs by bulk buying and managing contracts for items such as beer, wines & spirits, catering, energy, waste collection, washroom hygiene and insurance.
Stancer, a PGA coach and a member of the Golf Club Managers Association, values the persuasive potential of golfers who have made the switch from other sports.
He said: “The key word is competitive. In virtually every sport apart from golf, however fit you keep yourself, there will come a time when you are no longer able to compete at anything other than veteran level.
“Clubs need to encourage anybody about to move on from other sports to have a go at golf.
“Why not offer existing golf club members a £200 finder’s fee on their Food & Drink account for introducing each newcomer who commits to an annual subscription, the finder’s fee to be split between them and any new member?
“Would a club’s PGA coaching professional have an interest in finding a way of laying on a free group coaching taster session with all equipment provided?
“Does the clubhouse manager think it would pay dividends in the long run to follow up that group coaching session with a free pie and pint in the 19th afterwards?
“Most sporty people have the intuitive talent to switch sports with very little re-learning. It is the duck to water scenario, especially with a good PGA coach to help the transition.
“You can be up and running before you know it and once you get a grip on the basics, you have the opportunity to kick the backsides of teenagers week after week, without even getting out of breath. You will still have that opportunity when you are drawing your pension.”
One fan of the idea is the manager of the Lingdale club in Leicestershire, Andy Mee, who said: “Mark Stancer has asked me what I think and we shall talk it through at our club.
“It fits our ethos because everything we do at Lingdale is aimed at making our members proud of the club and ensuring our visitors enjoy the experience too.
“It is crucial we waste neither time nor money and that is where the Golf Management Group have proved themselves to us.
“In the two and a half years we have been using GMG, Mark has already saved Lingdale in excess of £6,000 and he frees up many hours of my time each week to deal with other issues.
“We have 700 members and it is important I put aside plenty of time for their service, queries and suggestions because, in effect, your members are your sales team.
“The happier they are, the more they will speak well about you when they visit other clubs. If we can make it possible for them to spread such good word of mouth, this is in their own interests because the more members we have, the easier it is to keep the subscription as low as possible.”
Stancer was the director of golf at Slaley Hall in Northumberland at a time when they hosted Tour events around the turn of the century.
It was there 20 years ago that Justin Rose made his first professional cut at the 22nd attempt in the Compaq European Open and Stancer says: “He spent so much time ringing round that Friday evening, I thought his phone was going to melt!”
*Golf clubs get a free first year’s membership of the Golf Management Group through GMG’s England Golf Partnership. Visit: http://www.golfmanagementgroup.co.uk/england-golf.
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