More than half of golf clubs have introduced an emergency renewal scheme

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 12, 2020 11:50

A survey of golf club members has found that just over half of golf clubs have introduced some form of scheme to make it easier for members to renew during the UK coronavirus lockdown.

However the research also finds a growing sense of anger by members towards golf clubs that are perceived to have not done anything so far.

The GolfPunk poll finds that 14.5 per cent of clubs have offered their members the ability to spread paying the renewal amount over a period of time, 11.5 per cent have allowed a deferral of payment altogether and 7.2 per cent have reduced their fees. Just under 20 per cent have introduced what’s been categorised as ‘other schemes’, while 49 per cent of clubs have not introduced anything.

‘Other schemes’ include one club offering 15 months of membership for the price of 12, starting when the first golf ball is struck after lockdown, provided the renewal is May 1; and a price freeze for the next three years if paid before the due date and money back at the bar.

This is in addition to some of the schemes reported on this website.

The comments received in the survey show a variety of attitudes.

“Clubs need every penny. If you value your club and want it to be there on the other side and can afford it. Keep paying subs. It’s not just about golf; it’s about a place I have been a member for over 20 years,” one stated.

However others do not feel loyalty to their club if the club hasn’t reached out to them at this time.

“I will be leaving my club to join a more progressive and understanding one,” stated one responder.

“Appalling behaviour by my club. Not even a hint of acknowledgement that members might be suffering financially at this time. It’s all about what’s right for the club. Not right at all! My gym and London clubs are pausing their membership fees, so why not my golf club too. And I bet my club secretary hasn’t had to take a salary cut! I’ve taken a 100 per cent salary cut in April so my company can survive. My club has behaved disgracefully.”

Other members also fear for the future of their clubs, with one stating: “Supposed to be looking at sorting something but over 100 members not rejoined and start with a £91k debt.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 12, 2020 11:50
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29 Comments

  1. Disillusioned Golfer April 15, 08:12

    Why is there such a disparity in approaches. Surely, in this moment, the interest of the members is paramount and the club secondary. Some are demanding full fees when many people are suffering financially with underlying threats that full fees must be paid, while many others are understanding the world situation and changing ways of payment and reducing to a min. the no. of staff required to maintain. Others are still running full teams and hiding behind its our constitution and we cant change things – the government and businesses have had to rewrite the rule book. I for one will be leaving my draconian course who demands full payment and joining a course who wanted to support its members first and foremost. Shame on the clubs thinking of them instead of its members positions !!!!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Pip April 14, 10:48

    Can not see the problem going out in 2 balls .To let the public walk all over the course with dogs push bikes prams never heard anything so stupid coming from stupid people ie Greenpeace what a load of idiots!!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Bob April 14, 06:14

    Totally agree with you, 100% ridiculous. Charge the dog walker a yearly fee for the privilege walking the same ground

    Reply to this comment
    • Tex April 14, 10:46

      Strange isn it golf courses are usually private.but we are suppose to let people walk at will over it. But national trust property is public and are closed to the public. Strange

      Reply to this comment
  4. Bob April 14, 06:13

    Totally agree 100%, i have watched people walk over my course, greens and bunkers are included on their route not just keeping to the fairways or the rough

    Reply to this comment
    • Pecos April 14, 09:33

      Totally agree with you , my wife and I walked over Old Prestwick course keeping off the greens and bunkers,and apart from the usual dog walkers even seen cyclists, prams and a couple playing football, disgrace.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Putta April 13, 23:27

    I’d like to know what sample of golf clubs the writer is basing his figures on. As a private member owned golf club, I believe the majority of our loyal membership base understands that the situation is way beyond the control of the golf club and will continue to fully support us financially until we are back playing. A few will pose a question but will be in the minority. Golfers who are affiliated to proprietary clubs who depend as much commercially on green fees and corporate business, generally have less loyalty to this type of establishment as typically they often are treated poorly being down the pecking order to the visitors. Understandably these golfers will look elsewhere if they feel they are once again being overlooked by their club. I believe it’s horses for courses so to speak and private member clubs will generally come out of this situation in better shape than such proprietary and municipal golf clubs.

    Reply to this comment
    • Kevin McGovern April 14, 20:36

      That’s why golf struggles at the best of times with your comment, stuck up pomp who think the game is for themselves…..probably a 22 handicapper with all the gear and all the money and I would not even let you scrub my shoes. You wouldn’t stand a chance against me at golf either you mutant.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Bowzie April 13, 22:24

    When you listen to the likes of Lucas and her unelectable ilke, saying that the general public should be able to walk all over golf courses, whilst the members who pay to keep those courses open all year are unable to play. I would love to say what I really think of the aforementioned person, but being a Christian man, I cannot bring myself to do so.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Dave M April 13, 21:14

    You mean your club has met, to discuss people like you. I am a Seniors Captain and we will meet when it is safe.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Davy b April 13, 21:01

    Exactly ,what’s the difference u cud go out in 2 s and play ,just as safe as letting walkers roam all over the course !

    Reply to this comment
  9. Shanker April 13, 20:36

    The club I am a member of, did away wiyh core times for members, joe public can play inbetween members on some of our major days.
    A haven’t felt valued for years, now the club want my subs early.
    Says a lot.
    Lokking around for another club who value members

    Reply to this comment
  10. Lentheman April 13, 19:56

    What really p____es me off is the petition signed by MPs to allow walkers onto golf courses to exercise but the club members cannot go on to play golf. How utterly stupid is that??!!!

    Reply to this comment
    • Bob April 14, 06:04

      Totally agree with you, 100% ridiculous. Charge the dog walker a yearly fee for the privilege walking the same ground

      Reply to this comment
    • Pip April 14, 10:38

      Our club has caught joe public sneaking on and playing holes ?Our membership has been suspended until we return so they have been fair with us .

      Reply to this comment
  11. Gobanion April 13, 17:21

    I understand golf club members are worried about their clubs future, especially as the time is due for their annual subscription.
    However, your article should have pointed out that many clubs do not own their golf club, but rent it from the landowner. This can.be anything up to £80000 per anum, or even more.
    If this is not paid,clubs will have deemed to be in contravention of their lease responsibilities, and the landowners have every right to lease or sell the land to any one who is interested. I’m afraid this could be the outcome of members do not pay their subs on time.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Dan d man April 13, 14:06

    I worry greatly for our golf club Heysham GC I understand the loss of money for everyone including myself,the situation is unbearable but it’s nobody’s fault, I walk the course daily and with the weather and our great green keepers the course is emaculate.I haven’t once thought how much it’s costing me but wonder when we will all get back, I also think the courses should never been shut because with common sense we would all be safe so send all your moans to the power that be.

    Reply to this comment
    • Lentheman April 13, 19:54

      What really p____es me off is the petition signed by MPs to allow walkers onto golf courses to exercise but the club members cannot go on to play golf. How utterly stupid is that??!!!

      Reply to this comment
  13. SamCro April 13, 13:01

    Obviously there are diffences, golf clubs fall into three main categories; member owned, proprietary and municipal. Each model will have a different type of response,, member owned clubs usually set the subscription at an Annual General Meeting and the management do not have the authority to vary this without another meeting of members, similarly there will be rules about deferment of membership and joining fees. Proprietary owned clubs exist primarily to benefit the owners/shareholders and they like any business are have to make decisions on a purely commercial basis, as they are required to by law. Municipal courses are answerable to the local council tax payers.

    Just because no one can play golf doesn’t mean that costs are reduced to zero, courses need to be maintained, gren staff paid, machinery maintained and fuelled, fungicides etc. bought.

    With all other sources of income, bar, food, societies, pay and play non existant clubs have no other choice but to look to their members. Maybe a lot of member owned golf clubs will wind up but the ones that survive will only do so with the support of their membership.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Kenny Milne April 13, 12:51

    Edzell golf club caterers and staff doing their bit to survive but helping local community at same time by proving a take away service/delivery.good food,good prices,good people as are all the clubs personnel.

    Reply to this comment
    • Casitta April 14, 02:14

      Well done Edzell. A favourite day out for our ladies. We gave no difficulty in getting a team for our friendly matches, so it is no great surprise to read about their contribution at this time. And who wouldn’t want a take away meal from their kitchen?!!

      Reply to this comment
  15. Hoover April 13, 12:29

    We have had nothing from our club other than a requirement to keep paying subs. If there is no gesture forthcoming at some point than I will consider moving next year

    Reply to this comment
    • Jay April 13, 13:24

      Totally agree, we need to look after our families first and as a members club we are all supposed to look after each other unfortunately our club like many others us run by amateurs who generally just look out for themselves

      Reply to this comment
  16. Tourgolfer April 13, 06:51

    Obviously in the current climate most Golf Clubs are experiencing a very difficult financial time but I feel I would like to share my experience of the treatment I have received from my private Golf Club near Southend-on-Sea in Essex.

    As a former professional golfer in my younger days, despite being nearly 70 I still live to play golf and have a current handicap of 12. My wife who is also in her sixties had lifesaving surgery in 2015 and consequently could face serious complications should she contract the virus. Therefore I have to take every precaution to avoid contracting the virus and passing it on.

    Because I was aware that I would be unable to play golf for some considerable time I approached my Golf Club, before the lockdown was announced, to see if they would grant me absent membership for a year and then I could return at the start of the next subscription year in April 2021 without paying another joining fee. Despite being a member of the Club since 2000 it was refused and consequently I have had to resign my membership with effect from 31st March 2020. I know of no other golfer who has been refused absent membership at our Club.

    As we all know there are plenty of financial incentives for younger golfers but pensioners are left paying the highest subscriptions and probably receive the least benefits. They do not accept that some of us are on fixed pensions and in times like this it becomes very difficult for us as well especially when the value of our pension fund has suffered such a large fall over such a short period of time.

    I know I will never be able to afford paying another joining fee so my only alternative is the local Municipal Course. I do feel Golf Clubs have got to realise that some of their members are also experiencing very difficult times and consequently should take a more understanding approach when receiving requests such as mine. I do feel 20 years continual membership deserved a better response.

    Reply to this comment
    • Jay April 13, 13:26

      Totally agree, we need to look after our families first and as a members club we are all supposed to look after each other unfortunately our club like many others us run by amateurs who generally just look out for themselves

      Reply to this comment
    • Links golfer April 13, 15:57

      As you say, your income is fixed, you are no worse off. I have every sympathy for those who have lost their income because they have been sacked or are self employed.
      You are the demographic that should keep paying to ensure clubs’ survive.

      Reply to this comment
      • Soulman April 14, 08:24

        The crazy thing is. If they are allowing people walk in parks, then why not allow golf to continue. It is by design a social distancing game and it is in the real outdoors where winds arent restricted by structures. The only real precautions needed are between playing partners. If playing partners keep a distance it is the safest outdoor sport in current climates

        Reply to this comment
      • Tourgolfer April 14, 11:01

        If you had read the whole comment you would have seen I mentioned there has been a substantial fall in my Pension fund.

        Reply to this comment
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