Golf club membership has RISEN in England

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 11, 2018 12:16

Golf club membership in England has experienced a shock and large rise in the last two years, according to the most comprehensive study of golf club trends in the UK.

England Golf’s biennial survey of 426 golf clubs has found that average club membership is now 484 – a significant rise from 460 in 2016 and the highest it’s been in six years.

This is the first time in over a decade that the results have shown average golf club membership growth, suggesting that measures to boost participation in the game are working and that many clubs are now growing again.

 

The Golf Club Membership Questionnaire found in 2018, 38 per cent of clubs saw an increase in membership and these members, on average, play more frequently. Weekly and monthly participation is relatively static, although there has been a small increase amongst adult men.

While overall membership numbers have seen a small increase, the number aged 65+ has increased by 13 per cent.

Clubs are also offering more categories of membership and nearly every type is seeing an increase. Seven-day membership is still by far the most popular category of membership offered, but clubs showing growth are increasingly offering more tailored packages, which provide flexibility and cater for less traditional golfers.

These include flexible, points–based memberships for those who
are time poor, corporate packages which provide opportunities to network, academy / trial memberships for those getting into the game and student / intermediate offers to enable younger people to manage the cost
 of a significant outlay.

When it comes to participation rather than membership, the survey found that over 3.7 million people in England played on a full length course in the last year and over two million people are playing golf at least twice a month.

Adventure golf is probably the game’s biggest trend at the moment however, as the data reveals that more than six million people played adventure golf in the last year.

‘Clubs which are successfully growing their memberships have much in common,’ states the booklet.

‘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.

‘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 [the average price of full adult membership has increased from £857 in 2016 to £901 in 2018]. Senior and intermediate memberships have risen more, by an average of £50, but it doesn’t appear to deter people.

‘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.

 

‘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.

‘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: “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.”

The results of England Golf’s survey, including several case studies of successful clubs, can be accessed here.

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 11, 2018 12:16
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6 Comments

  1. richard September 10, 09:12

    If you make membership a reasonable price people will join

    Reply to this comment
  2. Justin September 10, 12:09

    Great news! Still need to keep on relaxing those clubhouse dress rules, work harder to bring children and women into the game and make Golf clubs more family orientated.

    Reply to this comment
    • paddy September 11, 08:08

      Agree – I don’t play anymore but those that do tell me that 13 holes is a good number to play and at clubs where the 13th Green is near the clubhouse it’s a big drawer. Not one for the purists as it could end in chaos but for the time poor it could be a third green fee option?

      Reply to this comment
      • Justin September 11, 11:13

        yep there are those that don’t have the time, though I think the clubs would likely resist as they’d have a hard time controlling / monitoring it! Getting more flexible memberships is definitely an area that more clubs need to address tho!

        Reply to this comment
  3. Pete September 13, 15:36

    Don’t play the older standard game anymore, too time consuming, frustrating & costly, switched to alternative golf. Offers same game on smaller courses using new Hybrid MD golf ball. It’s now quick in, quick golf without all the BS. Try it, you may be surprised by the enjoyable results!

    Reply to this comment
  4. John September 17, 15:14

    You haven’t shown how many clubs there are and the trend. As there are some closing the average per club could go up but the total could be down.

    Reply to this comment
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