Is It Time For Golf Membership To Incorporate Several Courses
After such a lengthy spell away from the golf course, it was fantastic to be welcomed back into the realm of pleasure and, of course, the occasional spell of anger.
We have recently discussed the increase in price around our beloved hobby. Whether you were a club golfer or a nomadic golfer, both have suffered.
As greens fees rose, in many cases, so did membership fees. Either way, it was becoming apparent that golf would seldom be as affordable as prior to COVID-19.
While we have previously explored if the rise of golf memberships were justified, there is definite potential for golf clubs to offer an improved service.
If users are paying more for the same service, it is only right to demand better communication and enhanced facilities. The question must be asked: is it time for golf membership to incorporate several courses in a local area?
Through the help of the Golfshake Community and the thousands of responses that we received in our recent survey, we will look at the general consensus of the state of membership and if additional courses could strengthen the argument in favour of becoming a member.
Same Course, Different Day
While I’m sure many of us absolutely adore our home course - why would we be a member there if not? - there is no denying that playing the same course repetitively can become a tad stale.
One comment noted that membership fees were drastically high, considering you would be playing the same course repeatedly.
“For instance, a joining fee of £700 per year works out rather expensive if a player tries to play once a week despite bad weather. When factoring in the desire to play different courses, the £700 fee looks poor value. More flexibility should be thought out.”
It is difficult to argue with too. Golf courses have personalities; they offer different obstacles to overcome and each and every one requires a separate approach if you are to do well.
To charge such a fee without altering the challenge or further bolstering the product, it can be viewed as unjustified.
However, while your performances will undoubtedly improve - through knowing which side to miss or better understanding green speeds and break - does the challenge remain as mighty?
Playing new courses offers a completely different test. You won’t know where to miss, putting becomes completely reliant on your green reading skills and overall, you are employing a strategy that is untrialled and thus, untested.
One respondent wasn’t overly negative, however. They believe that the increased boom could help build or finance new golf courses.
“The increase in people playing golf (like myself) will hopefully increase demand and revenue for some clubs, enabling them to improve facilities and possibly even encourage new affordable courses to be built instead of courses just being too expensive and elitist.”
Golfers understand the price would have inevitably risen after such a lengthy period of no income for clubs. If the increased revenue is spent intelligently and thoughtfully, it would eradicate the argument against heightened fees.
So, how does that happen? Clubs have already commissioned improvements to their facilities, which is fantastic.
What could further bolster the quality, however, would be if clubs were to enter an agreement and collaborate with other local venues. Through this, golfers would be able to play an array of local courses instead of the same one.
Flexible memberships already exist through ventures like PlayMoreGolf and Ready Golf, but could we see the idea of traditional memberships transform into something more radical and innovative?
Obviously, some members have the luxury of choosing from several courses or three loops of nine. However, if your club can only offer a standard 18-hole course, then it becomes a case of same course, different day.
This may fall into the same category as increased membership fees, but, as aforementioned, to simply charge more for a service without improving its quality or appeal seems underwhelming.
While the boom of golf was welcomed, it is integral that the initial boom results in long-term involvement within the sport. Ironically, golf was one of the winners from COVID-19 and it is imperative that the sport builds on the recent influx of new players.
Although the general golf membership is fantastic and certainly enticing - access to the course, reduced range or beverage fees - by adding more courses to play, the hike in membership prices will lean towards justification.
Moreover, if there was the possibility of playing more than one course, it could help with the unprecedented demand for tee times.
One Golfshake member noted that due to the influx, rounds were taking too long. “My fear is they are chasing the revenue at the expense of the experience. The course is full and rounds have become much slower.”
If more courses were introduced as part of a membership, it may ease up bookings, while offering variety to golfers. On the other hand, if one course was viewed as superior to the other, then the balance and the entire premise of the idea would have to be scuppered.
With prices rising, participation increasing and a general demand for golf and golfing facilities, the sport may need to look at a slight reform.
If membership fees continue to grow, then the service needs to alongside it. Considering some clubs are still operating exclusively for members, nomadic golfers have been left out in the cold.
While the idea of golf clubs working together in this coordinated manner may not be widely practical at this current stage, it may be something that England Golf and other governing bodies look to explore in the future. It could be the natural evolution for the game and the concept of membership.
What do you think, is it time for golf memberships to incorporate several courses?
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