Golf clubs are introducing new membership categories

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 25, 2020 06:55

Some golf clubs are introducing new membership categories due to both the increased demand to play golf and to reflect the socio-economic profile of these golfers.

Data by the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of people who work from home has grown by more than ten times in the past three months (from 1.7 million people to approximately 20 million people), causing a seismic shift in working habits and methods.

This is, in turn, changing who wants to play golf and at what times, states some golf clubs.

Foxhills Golf Club

“Flexible working arrangements are set to become much more common after the coronavirus pandemic, particularly for those living in and around London, with workers looking for pleasant spaces to work, meet and entertain clients,” said a spokesman for the Foxhills Collection, which operates two golf clubs in south east England, and is now offering what it calls ‘a wide range of bespoke options’ of corporate membership packages that ‘removes the need for professionals to travel into central London’.

“Both Foxhills and Farleigh golf clubs are offering flexible corporate membership packages that are perfect for remote working for those looking to swap the boardroom for the golf course in a time where outdoor, socially distanced meetings are the safest alternative to online video calls,” he added.

In Scotland, Nairn Dunbar Golf Club has launched a new ‘Lifestyle’ category.

It is particularly aimed at the occasional and fair-weather golfer, or golfers wishing a second course membership, and provides many of the benefits of traditional golf club membership.

Nairn Dunbar

Lifestyle members can play at any time from 10am on weekdays and from 2pm at weekends during the summer months, and from 11am during weekdays and weekends in the winter period.

Kieran Maclean, club manager at Nairn Dunbar GC, said: “Lifestyle membership is an excellent alternative membership option that has been created for golfers who want a lot of the benefits of being a full member of the golf club, but whose busy lives mean that they are unable to play enough golf to justify a traditional full membership subscription.

“Those giving up traditional golf club membership tend to say that they simply don’t play often enough to justify the cost of membership, and this particularly applies to the 25 to 40 age group.

“The introduction of this membership will encourage the less frequent player to become a member of the club and, in addition, encourage a current member who may be considering giving up their membership to remain. We also believe it will be attractive to past members who considered the number of times they played did not justify a full membership.”

The club says over 20 members over the age of 30 have fully joined the club in recent weeks at £60.38 per month while this new category can be purchased for £470 per year for those aged 24 and above, with an annual cost of £315 for those aged 21 to 24.

This comes as the Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs has reported that a large majority of its 183 clubs have seen a boom in members.

“Golf is flourishing after a period of time when the courses were closed and nobody could play,” said Jonathan Plaxton, secretary of the Yorkshire Union.

“Initially it looked like a large number of members would use the pandemic to decide whether they would continue as members, whether that be concerns over their jobs, their mortgages or whether they were older players just taking it as a chance to hang up their clubs.

“But what we’re seeing by being one of the first sports back is a large number of people from other sports, like cricketers, footballers and rugby players, taking up golf.

“And because golf clubs have generally been looking after their members by prioritising their play, these new players are taking up memberships to ensure they get a tee time.

“They have been taking advantage of the many offers that clubs have been running as well. At first we thought this influx of members would replace the amount we lost in the period of inactivity, but it’s looking now like we might turn that into a nett win.”

According to the Yorkshire Post, one club’s membership has risen from 170 people to 290 since mid May.

“The true picture will emerge at the end of the year after those clubs that have a financial year ending in April report their half-year uptake in October, and those that run for the calendar year report at the end of December,” continued Plaxton. “We are very pleased at the way it is going at the moment and long may that continue.

“The challenge now is to retain those members into next year.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 25, 2020 06:55
Write a comment


  1. Monty50 June 26, 23:33

    What I have seen is that the older you are the more you have to pay for membership, this has to be changed as this goes against ageism and equality, members should pay the same price regardless of age.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ryder94 July 6, 17:30

      I disagree. The membership prices have to be relative to the age bracket.

      Here’s why….

      You talk about ageism but having a set prices doesn’t help younger people, as they are either earning low incomes, studying or in full time education. Therefore having a set price which is going to high of a demand and will not encourage the younger generation to join clubs.

      You talk about equality. How is having memberships relative to an age bracket not equality? Having memberships at set prices just goes against equality as its not a viable option to all.

      By having just one membership you are narrowing your members as its basically a “Yes I can afford or a no I cant”. This way of thinking has created the ideology that golf is for a specific person, that being someone with wealth.

      This is a massive barrier to golf’s growth and if this perception is continued you will continue to see the decrease in golf participation across the younger generation and future generations.

      Study’s have shown that people want flexible and more affordable memberships as people want to participate golf regularly and not have to pay luxury prices that they cant sustain.

      & @Monty50 of course membership will go up the older you get. How do you expect a teenager or a young person in their 20’s pay a fee of £1250 a year when they are probably either studying, in a part time job or have a full time job but have a low salary?

      You’re basically saying…this is the price you have to pay and if you cant pay you cant join. This literally favors the older generation and people of wealth. Where is the equality in that?

      Golf is for all, not for the few.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Davetherave June 26, 15:53

    Make golf more fun-wider hole 8 inches?

    Reply to this comment
  3. Jay June 25, 22:43

    Let’s hope the old duffers who are on most Club Committees are prepared for social change.

    Reply to this comment
    • Jigglingeordie June 26, 10:55

      Its the old duffers who run the clubs, young duffers rarely survive s year on any committee

      Reply to this comment
      • Monty50 June 26, 23:34

        What I have seen is that the older you are the more you have to pay for membership, this has to be changed as this goes against ageism and equality, members should pay the same price regardless of age.

        Reply to this comment
  4. Stuart H June 25, 11:26

    The Class of membership that continues to be forgotten during these difficult times is Pensioners who generally have to pay the highest subscriptions. I accept the income range is large in this category of golfer and it does not mean those of us that do have to live on a tight budget don’t live to play the game of Golf. I was a member of my Club near Southend-on-Sea in Essex for nearly 20 years and just before lockdown started applied for absent membership for a year. This is a class of membership were you pay in the region of £125 and when you re-join the following year you don’t have to pay a joining fee. My application was turned down. For a former professional golfer who had to retire at 18 due to a serious injury shielding during lockdown has been really hard knowing that you have had to say goodbye to so many friends in the Senior section and find a new Club when this crisis is over. Generally speaking seniors have been members of the Club longer than most other sections and deserve better treatment than this regarding their membership.

    Reply to this comment
    • djm June 25, 14:25

      Feel your pain, SH

      I shouldn’t listen too much to the whistling in the dark that is currently going on about the “boom” of new players recently arrived. They’ve had a nice summer, mostly off work & no significant hit to their finances.
      That will change. By October, these new players will be re-assessing their options & golf will not be a priority.
      They, & many others, will be gone to the game by next Spring.

      Your club will be on it’s knees, seeking your return.
      Just make sure its on your terms…

      Reply to this comment
  5. Peter T June 25, 10:57

    And the proactive clubs had all this in place 10-15 years ago!!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Philippe June 25, 08:48

    Excellent !
    Golf Club have to react on those new way of “using” golf. It is not for some monthes but a real life change!
    They also have to think about how to make their Club House used by others people (to make the restaurant run well…)

    Reply to this comment
    • Daniel June 25, 10:50

      “The club says over 20 members over the age of 30 have fully joined the club in recent weeks at £60.38 per month”

      This is the main change in how people buy products and services today – Netflix style subscriptions instead of lump sum.

      Using Direct Debit is the best way to do this, run by the club in-house, no loan or harsh terms – make it easy to join and keep the monthly cash flow coming in more like a high quality gym membership. People want to play Golf so let’s make the joining process open, easy and affordable.

      Reply to this comment
    • Kaysan June 26, 11:38

      A lot of pensioners go away in the winter for aprox., 4 months why don’t golf clubs allow them to suspend membership for this period

      Reply to this comment
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