Golf Clubs Are Benefiting From Putting Their Members First
GOLF has seen many positives from the boom in playing numbers that coincided with the global pandemic. And the good news is that UK golf clubs seem to have got their act together and put the needs and demands of their members first.
In the past, most club members would find plenty to grumble about when discussing the clubs that take their annual subscriptions, with everything from course condition to availability of tee-times, poor food to grumpy greenkeepers coming under the microscope.
Of course, we all know that most clubs are currently enjoying full memberships. Some have waiting lists. Others have reintroduced joining fees. Who would ever have believed we would be in this position, especially off the back of a pandemic that has claimed the lives of so many people?
It would be easy for clubs to believe that, since they have not had it so good for years, the good times will continue. That is not necessarily the case, of course, and the really encouraging news is that you are telling us that golf clubs are looking after you.
Off the back of the most recent Golfshake Survey it was highly encouraging to see that there is a growing positivity from existing golf club members in relation to their own golf club.
Human nature being what it is, it is only natural to expect that golf club members will find lots to complain about but a staggering 85% of existing golf club members stated that they were happy with their existing golf club. This is slightly up on 2020 and massively up from data prior to the pandemic.
But the killer stat comes when we look at the number of golfers considering moving clubs. This is something we have looked at many times in the past in various surveys. In the past, around 15% of club members have told us they are looking to move. In 2020 this fell to 11% and in our most recent survey it tumbled further, with only 9% of you considering a move.
And there is more good news. We have been warned that the boom could be temporary, and this is easier to believe when you see news headlines dominated by stories of soaring inflation, higher fuel and food costs. So it is reassuring to learn that only about 3% of those who responded to our 2021 survey are considering scrapping their membership.
Last year, many of you told us that you were unhappy with the lack of communication you received from your golf clubs. It seems that the only time you can guarantee that they will be in touch with you is when they write to inform you that your annual subscription is being increased.
It stands to reason that if you as an individual are feeling the pinch right now then so is your golf club - they will also face rising costs. If your personal bills are increasing it is inevitable that your golf club will also be facing higher bills.
The key is in the way this is communicated to golfers. It is clearly not good enough for clubs to simply send out a notification telling their members that the annual subscription is going up by, say 5%. They need to tell us why our golf is going to cost us more, and what they can do to make it less painful for members.
We have said this before, but it is worth repeating - in this world where so many of us use social media to communicate with one another, most golf clubs need to find a better way to keep in touch with their members.
Your comments indicate that you agree with us:
“I will continue my membership but I do question the increase.”
“I am happy with my current course but after a major increase in fees and rumours of another one on the way, I am less then happy with the club committee.”
“I am happy with my club membership but not so happy with the way the club is run and the way that money is wasted.”
"I will continue with my membership but I do not like the way that my club is managed.”
“I will continue with my membership but I’m not happy with what we do to our course in winter.”
There are many reasons people join golf clubs. Here are just a few that you shared with us:
"Access to tee times.”
"Availability of tee times.”
“Being able to get a game as everywhere too busy to get on at any reasonable time.”
"Enables us to book tee times in advance of the public on the flexi points scheme they offer.”
It is beyond argument that golfers have experienced problems finding suitable tee times since the boom began and golf-club membership is clearly a solution for many of you. Nomadic golfers report that it has been more difficult to book tee times since the pandemic began and more people started playing the game.
"Players who do not join a club are missing out on so much.”
"I can go and play when I like, no need to book a tee, no additional cost. Don't have to start on the first tee either.”
"Provides the flexibility to just play a few holes if I wish without having to pay full or 9 holes.”
Flexibility is important for most of you. It stands to reason that if you have paid a full green fee then you are going to want to play 18 holes but if you are a club member and suddenly find that you have an hour or two to spare then you can roll up to your club and play a few holes without worrying about whether or not you are getting value for money.
“It make me feel like I 'belong' somewhere, I like the feeling of being a part of something more than just golf.”
“Traditions, friendships, protocol, official competitions and a genuine opportunity to play better golf with like minded people.”
Golf is a social game, usually played in the company of others. Joining a golf club allows you to mix with people who enjoy the same things that you do. And, more often than not, allows you to choose who you play alongside. Our golf clubs are not perfect but the indications are that they are listening and that they are trying to improve things for their members. Those that fail to do so will simply not survive.
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