‘Golf club membership remains relevant and affordable’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 14, 2020 07:09

The chief executive of England Golf has said the surge in memberships in England in the last month is proof that being a member is both affordable and relevant.

“For me, it’s been heartening to see a value once again being placed on membership and the visitor golfer experience since we all pulled together to re-open courses and facilities on 13 May,” Jeremy Tomlinson said in a statement.

“England Golf exists to promote the amateur and club game and I am proud to bang the drum on our game’s behalf.

“But we should not make the mistake of undervaluing our game. Too often our sport has sold itself short.

“It may have been largely accidental, but the spike in recruitment over last few weeks has proved two key things – golf club membership remains relevant and affordable.

“Golf has been forced to hit the reset button, but the reboot gives everyone a chance to start afresh and carry this momentum forward.

“Each time I’ve been to my home club at Marlborough, visited Bassett Down or spoken to my pals at Broome Manor, I’ve felt the energy for myself.

“And, of course, through the national golfing network, I know this story has been repeated up and down the country.”

He also talked about how the return of four-ball golf in England has delivered even more benefits.

“There’s no doubt that the return of four-ball play from 1 June has been a game-changer for golf clubs,” he said.

“Four-ball play has helped reduce the pressure on tee-times. Although, as with many things, I’m well aware of the healthy, ongoing debate on the merits of more players per tee-time.

“It felt harsh to turn away golfers or ration slots to golfers already deprived of their sporting fix after months of enforced closure.

“Four-balls have allowed clubs to get more members on the course, re-introduce guests and accept visitor bookings.

“Of course, there are golfers who enjoyed the freedom of two-ball golf again. I get that.

“Slow play is a curse in a fast-moving society and a sub three-hour round is a joy.

“For many of our older golfers, there are sound health reasons why two-ball play and limiting social contact remains a wise choice with coronavirus still a threat.

“I’ve been pleased to discover so many clubs listening to members and setting aside times for two-balls while also re-introducing the four-ball format.

“A ‘best of both worlds’ policy seems to be sensible and right.”

However, he warned that despite the good news that has been coming out of the industry in recent weeks, there are numerous areas of concern for golf clubs.

“Not everything in the garden is rosy,” he said. “Clubhouses remain closed, cash is tight and I’m not naïve to the prospect that the toughest times might yet lie ahead for many of our clubs.

“Re-forecasting, re-evaluating, re-planning and, in some cases, re-inventing are all potentially the order of the day as we look to maximise opportunities and stabilise finances while coming out of this crisis.”

He also called for government changes to help golf clubs that rely on tourism.

“Just as golf clubs eagerly anticipate the day when clubhouses can safely re-open, we too need a change in lockdown regulations to allow hotels to function and our events to tee off,” he said.

“If the government’s roadmap out of lockdown remains on track, we will hopefully receive good news on that front soon.

“Slowly, safely and surely golf is beginning to find its feet.

“By continuing to work together, we will soon stand tall.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 14, 2020 07:09
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  1. Sean July 18, 13:07

    I agree, it has been fantastic for the golf clubs that have embraced the opportunities to pick up new members but as so many people have mentioned below, these potential members have had little, if not nothing else as an option, “join or you are unable to play”

    I do fear the worst here, these are individuals that have had 3 months of large disposable income (thanks to mortgage and loan holidays) very easy to purchase a membership when you have this level of cash.

    My biggest concern, there are going to be big redundancies over the next 3 months, these poor people love their sport, want to play their sport but the reality is will they have the same level of cash next year.

    I am not sure what the answer is right now, but maybe there should be some consideration to a monthly model for these new members in an attempt to create affordable membership for 2021.

    Wishing all my colleagues the very best of luck as we all navigate through the best ways to retain and add more value over the next 24 months.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Craig June 15, 13:23

    It’s easy to sell memberships when the audience has no other sporting or social mediums.

    Wait until Football, rugby, tennis subs come back into play. “It’s A Great time for clubs to capture market share previously occupied by other sports.

    But clubs have to create initiatives and platforms for all members to thrive and enjoy.

    Reply to this comment
    • Will June 15, 21:46

      What a total nonsense. if you do not allow greenfee players and non members to play nationwide, people will reluctantly become a member. But be sure this eill back fire!
      Members are the reason golf clubs are going down the toilet!

      Reply to this comment
  3. Andrew B June 15, 11:56

    It’s great that a lot of clubs are getting new members, but the real issue will be how they hold on to them next year at subs renewal time!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Chris M June 15, 07:08

    Wonder how much the Boss earns

    Reply to this comment
  5. Bert June 15, 06:55

    Howard ,I agree ,if you are serious about golf and you do the maths then its definitely worthwhile . Member at CEGC.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Bryan June 14, 20:08

    No thanks to England Golf. Furloughed support staff when clubs needed them most. Considering allowing nomad golfers to affiliate to EG and gain official handicaps a major reason to become a member and complete failure to meet their targets on the recruitment of juniors and women so out of touch with clubs and no mention of any reduction fees to support members.

    Reply to this comment
    • Jonathan June 15, 07:41

      Bryan you’re absolutely delusional and I suggest you look at the facts before posting. Firstly why are clubs only coming to EG support staff when a crisis hits, why aren’t they forward planning for the future? Yes most of the time clubs are given an action plan and do nothing with them. I know because I was one of these support staff. Secondly I don’t know where you have got your misinformation on affiliation, but what you’re saying isn’t true. They can only hit targets when the clubs are proactive, clubs that are succeeding have a good marketing strategy that is communicated through the ranks and is scoped out fully, looking at demographics, member on boarding, satisfaction BI stacks etc. Please get your facts right before posting again Bryan, your views are stuck in the past and based on feelings rather than facts.

      Reply to this comment
      • MBK June 15, 21:24

        Afraid you’re the one out of touch Jonathan. England Golf have lost their way. Every proprietary club in the country would leave if they didn’t have a monopoly over handicaps. Haven’t got a clue about promoting the sport. I could go on ……

        Reply to this comment
  7. Andrew L June 14, 19:45

    Clubs have a great opportunity currently, due to the uptake and in interest golf, to showcase their product through a friendly approach to members and prospective members. Let’s see what membership looks like this time next year. I do hope clubs, their managers and their committees recognise this and adapt accordingly.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Chris M June 14, 19:09

    Trouble is short term

    Reply to this comment
  9. James M June 14, 18:15

    Family memberships in 2020 are the key to the future!

    Reply to this comment
  10. Ashley June 14, 16:49

    Hmm maybe, time will tell of course. I think once everyone is back to their normal lives albeit their new normal we might see a different pattern emerging.

    Reply to this comment
    • David M June 15, 11:54

      Totally agree with you, I know of people who have joined clubs just because they can’t get tee times as a non member and are paying monthly, but won’t remain when restrictions are lifted !!!

      Reply to this comment
  11. Rob June 14, 16:01

    The real proof of affordability will be the retention rate next year.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Christopher B June 14, 15:04

    I wouldn’t say it’s affordable, golf clubs are just desperate for cash

    Reply to this comment
  13. Eric W June 14, 14:43

    There has never been a better time to be a Member. Clubs have a great opportunity to be relevant again to a new audience in these crazy times.

    Reply to this comment
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