Enterprising golf clubs are moving with the times and attracting more members, according to the results of England Golf’s latest Club Questionnaire.
The average club membership is now 484, up from 460 in 2016, when the questionnaire was last carried out to identify membership and participation trends.
The increase reflects the readiness of clubs to evolve and change to meet the demands of their customers, according to the key findings of the questionnaire, highlighted by SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC.
Over the last decade the overall decline in club membership has been well documented. But, at the same time, the number of independent golfers and leisure golfers has grown and they enjoy opportunities to play outside the traditional 18-hole format. This includes adventure golf, entertainment ranges, virtual golf and competitive socialising experiences.
As a result:
– Over 6m adults played adventure golf in the last year
– Over 3.7m people played on a full length course in the last year
– Over 2m people are playing golf at least twice a month
Innovative clubs are reacting to the evolving market with flexible memberships, academies, fun golf formats and by improving the off-course experience.
Abbie Lench, England Golf’s Head of Club Support, commented: “There is terrific competition for our leisure time but the good news is that there is a great demand for golf.
“While it’s true that some clubs have closed during the last 24 months, it’s also a fact that new facilities are being built and other clubs are investing in redevelopment projects to diversify their business and generate additional income streams.
“Golf is the fifth largest participation sport in England and we are seeing that clubs are increasingly ready to evolve to meet their customers’ needs and to remain relevant.”
Clubs which are successfully growing their memberships have much in common. They know the importance of a warm welcome, they cater for a range of different needs, communicate regularly with members and visitors, and develop their facilities to broaden income streams and become part of the local community.
The Results Booklet highlights these common themes and brings them to life with a series of success stories from a wide range of clubs which have taken time to understand the golfing market, the customer journey, retention and satisfaction, the effective use of facilities and the business operation.
Golfers who like what they find at clubs are also prepared to pay for it. The average adult membership has gone up by over £40 over the last two years. Senior and intermediate memberships have risen more, by an average of £50, but it doesn’t appear to deter people; the biggest increase in membership is among the over-65s, up 13%.
This could reflect the effects of golf’s health benefits, helping people to play and stay members for longer. Recent health research carried out by England Golf and partners has highlighted the benefits of golf on players’ physical, mental and emotional health.