Alan Oliver on membership retention

Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu November 11, 2018 08:21

Alan Oliver, the club secretary at Silloth on Solway Golf Club in Cumbria, believes a golf club manager should adopt five ‘things to consider’ when it comes to retaining members.

Alan Oliver

The US drama series House of Cards is based on the politics and events in the White House. In the last year or so the real life politics across the pond have been compelling viewing – don’t worry though, I’m not going to dwell on the Trump regime as, let’s face it, we aren’t short of people commenting on that particular topic.

I think the golfing version of this is ‘House of Scorecards’.

The politics and events in a members’ golf club. Not sure it would make it onto mainstream television though … or maybe it could! The question is what channel would it be shown on? The comedy channel or the horror channel? In any case it would need to be shown after the watershed.

A wise man once said the correct number of people to run a golf club is an odd number of people and three is too many! The endless task of trying to keep members happy is one that countless secretaries, managers and committee members spend their time trying to master. I’m sure that most members at clubs are perfectly good members who are grateful for what everyone does in relation to the running of the golf club. But there will be members at every club who aren’t like this at all.

These members would find fault even if the golf club had the green staff from Augusta, Michelin star catering staff, David Leadbetter as the teaching pro and the secretary from Silloth on Solway Golf Club!

Here are five things to consider when looking at keeping members happy at your golf club.

  1. Abraham Lincoln was right. You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
  2. Having a club strategy is vital. Get the members involved in the objectives of the club through focus groups and other meetings and try to get as many as possible to buy into the direction the club is going.
  3. Communication is key. Keep the members informed into what is going on at the club and you may find that these communications answer some of the members’ questions or complaints before they escalate.
  4. Feedback. Ask the members how the club is doing to meet their expectations. A questionnaire should be circulated asking questions you want the answers to. Yes there will be some members that see this as an opportunity to vent their frustrations but the answers to these questions are important to gauge how the club is doing.
  5. At the end of the day golf is a game that members play in their spare time, it should be enjoyed ( I know, it’ll never catch on!) Try to remove some of the barriers that may stop people from coming to your golf club and enjoying themselves.

Happy golfing.

Silloth on Solway Golf Club is rated by Golf World as the 22nd best golf course in England. For more information, visit


Jenny Yu
By Jenny Yu November 11, 2018 08:21
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  1. Richard November 12, 12:13

    Amazing how many clubs don’t do or see the value in points 2 & 4. There is a lot of focus on recruiting new members & not enough on retaining existing members. This misses the point that the best ambassadors a club has are its existing members & keeping them happy feeds the funnel for new members.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Solution Fixer November 15, 17:15

    Feedback is crucial, understanding your customers views and news are critical to hanging on to them and providing what they want = member retention.

    Reply to this comment
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