Will Lockdown Golf Club Members Rejoin at Renewal
Article by David Wheatley
A surge in golf club membership numbers through the summer of 2020 was one unexpected side effect of the coronavirus pandemic. But with the fresh cohort of members coming off the back of three months enforced inactivity, what are golf clubs doing to ensure that their new intake get the value from their membership that will see them signing up again at renewal?
Michael Smith, founder of Arrange A Round, a web-based app that connects golfers with playing partners from within and outside their club, believes that clubs need to act now to ensure that the rise in membership isn’t mirrored by a similar fall in 2022.
“I love the game of golf, so I’m delighted that membership numbers continue to rise. But I do worry that golf clubs might take this situation for granted. There are reasons that golf membership numbers weren’t growing before the pandemic, so clubs have to work out how to keep new and returning golfers engaged so that when the membership drivers associated with the pandemic go away, the members don’t go with them.”
While Lockdown 3 removed the vast majority of opportunities to integrate new members, many of the traditional methods are still currently limited following the partial re-opening of the game. Meeting in the bar, taking part in social events, and even roll up groups have been affected. So, with on course activities being the main avenue to integrating new members into club life, what can clubs do to make sure that every new member gets value for their money in the coming months?
Michael continues, “My experience of joining a club as a solo golfer was one of frustration, and that was at a time when it should have been easier to integrate. Finding groups that wanted new players to join, or even connecting with other solo golfers was harder than it should be. That left me playing less golf than I wanted and feeling quite separate to what was on the face of it a friendly club. That’s why I designed Arrange A Round, to make sure that golfers like me, who wanted to play golf and expand their social group had an easy option to do just that.”
“When I raised the issue with my club, they told me that the Pro would be able to arrange a round for me, but they were so busy and had a huge amount of responsibilities so it never really happened. I do hope that following this recent influx of players that golf clubs do everything they can to engage their new members in the club and the game. From experience the best way to do that is to get them out on the course, mixing with people who already love what the club has to offer.”
Golf is faced with a once in a generation opportunity. Demand for the game is riding the crest of a wave and club memberships are filling up all around the country. For the good of the clubs and for the game, golf clubs need to take an active role in integrating new members into club life and ensuring that they see the value in their membership. This is the chance for golf to secure a bright future, and getting more people playing more golf with more people is one sure fire way to showcase the benefits of club membership that many of us cherish.
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