English Golf Clubs Report Astonishing Surge in New Members
This has been a year that none of us will forget, but one positive sight has been the widespread image of busy courses throughout the summer, with golfers taking full advantage of the welcome opportunity they were presented with by the game returning early from lockdown restrictions in May.
Anecdotally, tee times have been more difficult to secure, and there has been a palpable bustle to many venues, and there are specific examples of a transformation in fortunes. Memberships had been haemorrhaging for a considerable period, but a large number of clubs throughout the UK have reported a rise in first-time and returning members, painting an encouraging picture for the industry as society looks to accommodate this "new normal" that we are learning to live through.
Providing specific data to support the stories, when recently interviewed by The Sunday Times, England Golf CEO Jeremy Tomlinson said: “Since May 13, there have been 20,000 new members across England. The number of rounds played in June and July was up 60 percent on 2019 and is trending towards the same increase for August.”
Indeed, this surge of interest has been reflected in the Golfshake Score Tracker, which has never been busier, as showcased during the continuing #Birdie Club, reaching record heights year-by-year through each month since courses reopened for play.
(Golf Memberships Are Hottest Ticket in Town)
The challenge for the sport will be retaining these new members in the medium to long term, something that dynamic pricing and marketing should help to facilitate, but there is a unique opportunity for clubs and venues to embrace.
During the height of lockdown, in a Golfshake Survey, 9% of responding non-club golfers definitely said YES that they would apply for a membership when play resumed, with 40% saying they would consider joining once some form of normality returned to life.
Evidently, a larger number have followed through on that promise.
Golfers had expressed a keenness to support clubs by signing up for a membership, but transforming that into a future commitment in the face of wider challenges is the primary objective now for the sport, a topic we previously explored in the feature How to Turn Unattached Golfers Into Golf Club Members in which surveyed golfers identified key areas to address, including value for money, course variety and stripping back antiquated structures.
Ensuring clubs are welcoming, inclusive, affordable and adaptable would be a refreshing new normal for our ancient game.
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