When Should Golf Green Fees Stop Rising
THE cost of green fees is one of our sport’s hot potatoes. Inevitably, we are seeing them rise and, as they do so, Golfshake subscribers tell us that they feel they are being taken advantage of.
We first surveyed the Golfshake audience back in 2020 following the return to golf after the first wave of the pandemic because we wanted to understand your views on green fee pricing and expectations.
In our most recent survey, 18 months later, it will surprise nobody to learn that opinions have changed.
Back in 2020, 61% of golfers who responded to our survey believed that green fees were priced about right with just 37% saying they were too expensive.
Given the boom in golf and the huge numbers of new golfers playing the game, demand has soared, and your views have changed. It is a fact that green fees have increased, in some cases by sums way above inflation.
The Revenue Club are industry experts in online sales and they work closely with golf clubs to help manage tee time bookings and green fee revenue.
Data supplied by The Revenue Club showed that in 2019, the average green fee price increased by 1.1% in comparison to 2018. However, the jump from 2019 to 2021 was a staggering 11.5%.
The news is dominated by worrying increases in the cost of living which means that although golf club membership is bursting at the seams, there is increased pressure on disposable income.
Are golf clubs cashing in? You think that they are. At the end of 2021 we once again asked for your views on the cost of green fees. And this time just 57% of you felt that you were getting value for money, with 42% believing that green fees are too expensive. This time, only a very small number of golfers felt green fees were still too cheap.
And it is not just nomadic golfers who are feeling the pinch.
In 2020, 30% of club golfers said that green fees were too dear but that figure had soared to 41% last year. Whilst the overall data may be slanted by the change in club golfer views there are also increasing numbers of non-club golfers who now think green fees are too expensive - 44% last year compared with 42% in 2020.
Here is what you had to say back in 2020.
"This varies between courses location, the better courses cost more, which is natural. I can mostly find a course that meets my needs of golf and what I can afford to pay."
"Overall priced right but some courses are too expensive, others are quite cheap."
"It is supply and demand, depending on where you want to play. Locally we can get very good deals on decent courses depending on times, etc. But if you want to play the very best courses then a premium is paid for the privilege."
"Generally priced fairly but there are a few who keep visitor green fees high with what appears to be an over inflated ego about their club's reputation, or to keep the flow of visitors down."
"As a non-member of a club I play nomadic golf and I do that based on a combination of course quality and price. I am willing to pay a premium for a recognised quality course that has excellent reviews and a reputation. However some clubs clearly price their visitors fees as a means to deter non-members. That's their choice but it means they will never have an opportunity to catch prospective new members who turn up to play one day and like it so much they join. Some courses on the other side of this, clearly are struggling and are charging fees to get more visitors which may annoy traditional members. So I see a lot of clubs and in the most part, they are welcoming and generally have fairly priced green fees."
In our latest survey we asked golfers to tell us if they felt the green fees they paid reflected a "normal price", something we also asked 18 months ago. Back in 2020, 33% said they had seen a small increase of £5-£10, with 3% reporting increases of more than £10.
Given the demand on golf and the pressures clubs have faced as they tried to balance the books is it any surprise to see a major shift in this analysis 18 months on?
A total of 37% of those of you who responded to our latest survey reported that green fees were unchanged, while 50% had seen a rise of between £5-£10 per round, and 12% reported an increase of more than £10.
You can be sure that green fees will not be going down but it is worth bearing in mind that, when compared with many other sports, golf does represent pretty good value for money. Football is the most popular spectator sport in Britain. If you are an Arsenal or Tottenham supporter, the cheapest season ticket available to you is £891 and £807 respectively - and that will not get you into every game (you will have to fork out even more for FA Cup, League Cup and European competition). Remember, too, that football season only runs from late August through until early May.
Ultimately, have you found an increase in green fees since the pandemic began, and do you believe that the general cost of playing the game reflects good value?
What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)