Top Links:

Get A Golf Handicap

UK Golf Guide

Golfshake Top 100s

Find Golf Travel Deals

Golf Competitions


Community Forum


Tee Times | Search | Reviews


Gear | Tour | Industry Insider


Video Library | Tuition Sections


Join | Log In | Help | Useful Links


Could There Be Tough Times Ahead For Golf Club Memberships

By: | Sun 07 Apr 2024

Following our most recent survey, which focused on winter golf and 2024 membership, Derek Clements reports on the results reviewing the information around golf club membership and whilst the membership data is fairly positive and not dissimilar to previous years, there could be some challenging times ahead for some golf clubs.

IF YOU have been trying to play golf on a regular basis over the past few months then two things are for certain: 1 At some point you will have been rained off, and 2 If you live in the UK then your course will have been closed because of the rain.

It has been a miserable few months and club golfers are all growing weary of coming home with clubs, shoes and trousers smothered in dried mud.

Golf in the winter

We recently conducted a survey designed to find out what these past few months have been like for you - despite the fact that the survey was live for just 24 hours, more than 1,600 of you responded.

In total, 86% were golf club members and of the 14% who were not members and once again there was some positive news for golf clubs with 20% of non-club golfers saying they may join a golf club in 2024.

So far in 2024, 82% of golf club members had received their membership renewal, with 86% seeing a cost increase, 12% seeing the cost staying the same and a lucky 2% reporting a reduction in annual fees.

In total, 83% of the club members surveyed had already renewed or plan to do so, with just 2% stating they would not be renewing.  However, 9% were still undecided and 6% said they may look at joining another club - very similar to data we have seen in our survey's over the last several years.

Regional Data For 2024 Club Membershup Renewals

Golfshake Survey

What Feedback Did We Have?

Those figures may imply that all is well in the world of club golf but it is clear from our survey that the impact of the weather on our courses is causing some real concern. Put simply, we are being asked to fork out for 12 months golf membership but course closures because of flooding and suchlike has meant that most club golfers have lost weeks.

Many of you are now weighing up whether or not annual subscriptions actually represent value for money.

Your comments made for fascinating reading. Here are just a few of them, and an alarming number of you are now considering whether you want to keep paying a 12-month subscription when the weather is so unpredictable:

“I have considered cancelling my membership. It’s tough to pay high fees and then be unable to play golf for much of the past five months!”

“I am debating wether to rejoin come renewal in June as the ground is saturated and unless we have a miraculous summer the water table will be too high to withstand any sort of wet winter again.”

"Due to the persistent weather conditions which are likely to continue in the foreseeable future I have  decided to stop my membership and play on pay to play basis as £1,000 membership is not sustainable.”

“I am having to consider if membership is worth it with course unavailable much of October to March."

"I am deciding if to continue in the future to play golf as they have had a trolley ban for a lot of the winter and due to a bad back I can't carry so can't play, yet they keep raising the fees we pay. This year by 11 percent and last year by 10 percent and as a pensioner we don't get our pension going up by that amount."

"I have renewed my membership for this season, but I will need to see how many lost days we have this season especially during the winter before I renew for next season."

"Golf fees go up every year, I can't afford to pay for my golf club and pay for driving range sessions while my club is closed. If my club put the price up much more I will be priced out and forced to give up the game."

“It has made me reconsider paying £1,400 membership to only play six months of the year."

"It has put doubt in my head about renewing my membership as the prices are going up and we have been offered no compensation for the missed time on the course. I have not played a full 18 holes of golf since mid-October. It is April and my course still only has 14 holes open."

“It has made me question the value of full membership when the courses are closed so much, or just not very pleasant to play even if open."

"My course has been closed every day this year and I have hardly played due to weather conditions, including trolly bans. I'm now thinking what on earth am I paying membership fees of more than £2,000 for perhaps six months golf. I may as well be a nomad and pay visitor fees. The is very little benefit to club membership at the moment and i'm not getting any younger."

"My course is still not fully open - 10 holes have been closed - and I am considering whether it is worth rejoining when play virtually impossible from late October to April."

“I am very concerned that annual subscriptions rise 10% (for my club) but the course is closed more than in the past. I am now seriously thinking of becoming a nomad so I go where courses are open and just pay the green fee without worrying about effectively double paying because my home course is closed."

"It makes a mockery of club membership fees as you are really paying for eight months golf.. I am free to pay and play and therefore have more flexibility.. But it has been a terribly wet winter that I have not seen before."

"With the rising cost of membership and playing less often making it harder to justify continuing being a member."

"I may not renew my membership this year, not being able to play without a buggy due to weather and state of course i haven't played since the first week in October 2023."

"We are reviewing our membership to try and get cheaper summer golf that allows for us to be nomadic in the winter and pay green fees for the clubs that are open when others are flooded"

"Although the weather is not the golf clubs' fault, I have paid for a seven-day membership for which there is no compensation as the course has been closed more than open since October 2023."

"If the weather continues with the current annual pattern with a lot of winter golf being missed, I will have to reconsider whether or not club membership is a viable proposition."

“It is becoming hard to justify large annual fees when you lose so much golf due to the weather."

"I am hoping that the increase in very wet days doesn't result in more course closures outwith winter.”

There were many, many similar comments to those above. As a golfer of many years standing, I can honestly say that I have never experienced such a sustained wet period. The course I have recently joined has spent a fortune attempting to improve drainage but it has also seen nine holes closed on a regular basis. One thing I can tell you for sure is that I have never known golfers considering whether to keep paying annual subs because of winter course closures. Like it or not, this is a real issue.

For senior golfers or those with long-term injuries, trolley bans have also caused issues. This is something I can relate to - my should issues make it physically impossible for me to carry a golf bag for 18 holes without suffering severe discomfort. If I was told that I had to carry my clubs then I would have to climb into the car and come home. And I am not alone:

“I am not sure if I shall renew my membership with the club insisting that I have to carry my clubs.”

"I did not renew my membership as trolleys were not allowed and I cannot carry due arthritis in my knees and hips.”

"Not sure if I shall renew my membership. Club insisting 'carry only' and using 'dangerous ground conditions' as an excuse to prevent trolleys and buggies."

There is a double-edged sword involved with all of this. Rising costs mean that golf clubs face the same pressure to pay bills as the rest of us but as consumers when we pay for what should be a 12-month service but do not get it, should we expect our golf club to refund us for the days we have lost? And if the clubs did that, how many would face closure as a result?

Many of you are looking at seeking out more flexible options:

"I am already paid up, but I will not be renewing as a full member next time.  I will either switch to an Associate Member and pay as I play, or pay extra to join a club that has better winter conditions."

"We will see more players opt for midweek membership and other types of membership on offer ar most clubs. This will have the effect of losing full members."

"I want to go and play abroad more in the warm next winter. I will not renew membership at one club."

“I have already changed my membership to a flexible plan."

“I am considering stopping my subscription for my own club and just pay and play."

"I have changed from an 8 month member (full membership from March to October, then pay as you play for the other eight months) to a bronze, pay as you play all year round member."

"An April-October membership option, would be a viable option, rather than full 12 months."

“I am having second thoughts about my five-day membership and am considering Play More Golf scheme, which would mean I don't waste as much money."

"I am considering whether to go to a points membership, so if the same conditions happen this winter I am not loosing money."

"I will see what next Autumn/Winter/early Spring brings and consider downgrading my membership to something less expensive or more flexible."

"I will look for a more flexible alternative as paying upfront and not playing enough would push my frustration levels too high. I live in the northwest where we have seen 50% rainy days plus extra for the knock-on effects of boggy ground."

Unsurprisingly, the rising cost of annual subs continues to be a concern for many of you:

"Next season  our subs are due February 1, 2025 and following a 16% increase in 2023 and a 4% in 2024 I think it will be unaffordable.”

"I think that rises in annual membership should be very small as members feel they have not got value for money this year.”

"I am concerned that clubs that lost revenue and faced greater maintenance costs over the winter will try to recoup this through ever increasing green fees.”

"I am worried that clubs that lost revenue and faced greater maintenance costs over the winter will try to recoup this through ever increasing green fees."

You will all be aware that golf has enjoyed something of a boom since the end of the pandemic. How sad it would be if that bubble were to burst because of climate change. 

Related Articles

Dec 2023 - How Waiting Lists And Joining Fees Made a Comeback at Golf Clubs

Dec 2023 - Did Your Golf Club Tell You Why It Increased Your Subscription

Dec 2023 - One Third of Golf Clubs Must Improve Their Communication Skills

What do you think? post your thoughts and feedback on the Golfshake Forum: https://forum.golfshake.com/

Tags: Survey industry insider daily picks

Scroll to top