Income is rising fast at most UK golf clubs

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 10, 2020 06:50

Several golf clubs have reported that they are experiencing a boom in revenues due to the current strong demand to play golf, with this including a sharp rise in non-golf income such as from coaching and even food and beverage.

Clubs are also reporting that they have introduced new membership categories to adapt to the increase in demand to play golf, and that online green fee revenue is already several times higher for the year until early June than in 2019, even though golf courses were closed in March, April and May, 2020.

Kirkistown Castle Golf Club, situated on the most easterly point of Northern Ireland, received more than 80 applications to join the golf club in the first week of the resumption of golf following the lockdown, and since then the growth has continued.

Kirkistown Castle Golf Club

“To date we have now welcomed over 100 members, and still rising, ranging from the young to the young at heart,” states Tracey McDowell, general manager.

“Our new applications range from cadets from six years old right through to full seven day members. Our rates for joining have been greatly received and we are honoured to assist our neighbouring sports clubs with a new sports category. We have been blown away by the reception we have received to join this amazing club.”

Tracey added that income has not just been confined to memberships.

“Our golf professional team has also been extremely busy with new lesson packages and coaching for new members, obviously adhering to the social distancing protocol,” she says.

Kirkistown Castle Golf Club

Kirkistown Castle is not alone. According to Danielle Thomas, area manager at 59club, clubs are now bringing in revenue from additional streams.

“Twenty-eight percent of clubs are currently offering a food and beverage service, even with clubhouses closed, 54 percent of clubs are offering a click and collect retail service, some experiencing significant success, and 74 per cent of clubs have hire equipment available, with many discounting buggies for single occupancy and selling them out each day,” she said.

Memberships and green fees remain the biggest source of income for clubs, and Danielle added that 75 percent of UK venues have brought in more than 10 new members, with one in four bringing in more than 40 new members, and, despite the lack of golf for two months plus preferential treatment for members, online green fee revenue is already up year-on-year by a staggering 254 percent.

Another incredible statistic is that bookings made direct with clubs have increased from 59 percent to 96 percent yet, despite this, third party tee time providers have seen an increase in traffic of 600 percent.

Half of all UK golf venues now use a booking system, including at Kirkistown Castle. The links venue, which has its own microclimate and offers views of the Isle of Man and Scotland on a clear day, may be 118-years-old, but it is using the current situation to embrace modern technology.

Kirkistown Castle Golf Club

“We have streamlined our application process with our new online application portal, allowing potential members to apply from the comfort of their own home,” states Tracey. “All our membership rates, starting from £10 for cadets up to £299 for membership to join now until the end of our subscription year at 31st October 2020, can be found on our website.”

Orchardleigh Golf & Country Club in Somerset has introduced two new membership categories to adapt to this new demand.

The venue, which earlier this year allowed golfers to become members for £1, in which they pay the full green fee for every round they play but are entitled to the benefits of club membership, such as to acquire a recognised handicap, has now introduced two new membership categories.

Members can pay either a £400 or £600 upfront fee, which gives 33 percent or 50 percent discount respectively off green fees, reducing them to as little as £6 for 18 holes.

Chris Vincent, owner of Orchardleigh Golf & Country Club, said: “A golf course offers the perfect setting for enjoying exercise and a degree of socialising, all whilst keeping suitably distant. Given its benefits and the current situation, we wanted to try and make the sport more accessible – and part of that is making it fair through appropriate pricing.

“By bulk-purchasing their games of golf in this way, there are huge cost-saving benefits for our members”.

Orchardleigh Golf & Country Club

On top of the new payment packages, Orchardleigh has announced it is now offering grants for those who otherwise could not afford to play, and scholarships for young players who show exceptional promise to hone their skills. As well as covering their membership and green fees, Orchardleigh will provide all the necessary equipment for playing if required.

“Golf should be accessible to all, and that’s our mantra here at Orchardleigh. We want people to be able to play golf, regardless of their circumstances. Our latest schemes aim to offer just that.” Chris Vincent concluded.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 10, 2020 06:50
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  1. Michael D June 15, 17:58

    I would be really interested to understand this further, the club i play at are very much in the turn up 20 minutes before, play and leave immediately, i think they are missing a trick but would love to understand how other clubs are achieving revenue growth with the bars and kitchens shut, thank you

    Reply to this comment
  2. David F June 15, 12:00

    So most “new” members down southwest are coming through, ‘playmoregolf’. But some clubs won’t allow this flexible membership, then they wonder why their ageing membership is declining. Time to shake it up.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Tomsmallfield June 12, 10:01

    No catering at our members club in Sussex. Official line is that food and drink consumed on the patio is not take away and hence not allowed.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Phil June 11, 12:44

    clubs just need to maintain the interest now and not sit still. now is a perfect time across the industry to remove all old thoughts and mindsets within the club.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Peter N June 11, 10:17

    Very true, especially in our case. Let’s just hope the boom continues!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Alexander D June 10, 12:39

    Not in Scotland. Still playing in 2s. No catering Nicola and Scotland dragging behind the UK.

    Reply to this comment
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