The R&A CEO: ‘We haven’t sufficiently embraced change’

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire March 11, 2020 12:34

The chief executive of The R&A, the governing body for golf in most of the world, has said that too many golf clubs haven’t sufficiently embraced change in the last few years.

Martin Slumbers said that golf clubs that are welcoming to families, have no dress codes and offer shorter versions of the game are performing well, but several are not doing this.

A number of golf clubs have closed down in recent years and, as we reported recently, an insolvency expert has said that part of the problem is that golf clubs’ committees have taken a ‘too amateur’ approach to managing their clubs.

Insolvency expert says some golf club committees need to be more professional

Slumbers appears to agree, arguing that clubs have not adapted well to a changing world.

“We probably haven’t embraced it [change] as much as we should,” he said.

“Golf clubs are not providing a product people want to buy. So we have to change. Grassroots is going to struggle unless the game changes.

“There is a market five times the size of existing membership today that is more diverse and it’s younger. And that’s our opportunity. And we have to break down the traditional barriers to be able to embrace it. You go to clubs that deliver non-traditional forms of the game and they’re busy. There are probably too many delivering exactly the same product.

“The world we live in now, people want choice. If you go to a club which has a lot more choice in their membership policies and the way they do it then guess what, they’ve got quite a lot of members.

“If you just confine yourself to a small group, you’re only going to be talking to a small group.

“Clubs that are family orientated, have fitness [facilities], crèches, coffee shops, Wi-Fi, have no dress code, have a short par three course, or nine-hole course; those are the ones that are going to succeed.”

Martin Slumbers

Slumbers added that he is a “massive optimist” though.

“The traditional way of looking at the health of golf in GB&I is the number of golf club members and that’s about a million golfers,” he said.

“But if you look at how many people consume golf, whether that’s 18-hole golf, nine-hole golf, at driving ranges, on par three courses, at adventure golf, all those places, then that group in GB&I is 10.2 million. It is also a group that is much more diverse and much younger.

“There are only two sports in GB&I that have more people who participate in it if you look at golf that way – swimming and the gym.”

A number of people in the industry have commented on this story on LinkedIn. 

 

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire March 11, 2020 12:34
Write a comment

4 Comments

  1. djm March 12, 12:55

    “Clubs that are family orientated, have fitness [facilities], crèches, coffee shops, Wi-Fi, have no dress code, have a short par three course, or nine-hole course; those are the ones that are going to succeed.”

    & of course the R&A is a shining example of the above…….

    Reply to this comment
  2. Peter March 5, 16:38

    Now that’s very refreshing ! Thanks Tania ! Thanks Alistair ! It’s really very simple, most who’ve embraced change, challenged more and created “next practices” are thriving ! It takes character and courage just to change ! Higher degrees of courage to enact contrarian policies that just might help more survive and thrive ! Kudos to Slumbers for “getting it ! ” Far too many, do not yet !

    Reply to this comment
    • Lloydy March 12, 12:29

      Well well well! “Golf Clubs are not providing a product people want to buy” – some things never change! Well done Mr Slumbers though for saying how it is. Regards to Alistair please.
      Keith Lloyd

      Reply to this comment
    • Pete March 12, 14:27

      You killed off the smaller “quick playing” courses where people learned the game and had fun…“incubators“, in favor of the all day affair, frustrating to play big courses. You should have economized the game, now you’re stuck with lots of under-performing, empty full-size courses few want to play. Things change, so will golf!

      Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment

<

Join Our Mailing List


Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

To advertise in the magazine or online, contact:

Email marketing@thegolfbusiness.co.uk
Tel 020 7803 2453

Twitter Timeline