Nearly a half of ‘nomadic’ golfers are considering joining a club

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 1, 2020 11:20

A survey of avid golfers who are not members of clubs in England in late May has found that more than two in five are considering joining a club at the moment.

The poll also finds that more than one in three have reported that green fees have risen.

Golf has been in huge demand since the lockdown restrictions were eased, with many clubs prioritising their members. However, some clubs, particularly proprietary ones, have business models that are more reliant on golfers who are not members of clubs, but choose to ‘pay and play’ instead. As a result, a number of ‘nomadic’ golfers have been able to play in England in the last two to three weeks.

The Golfshake survey of 929 golfers who play at least 30 times per year, from May 20 to May 25, found that, despite the large numbers of people golfing at the moment, nearly a third (31 percent) of these golfers have not yet played since golf resumed, for reasons such as waiting for the current large footfall to reduce.

When asked about joining a club, one in ten say ‘yes’, while a further nearly a third (32 percent) of respondents said ‘that they may look to join a club’. In total, 42 percent of avid nomadic golfers said they either are considering joining a club or will join / have already joined one following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Reasons why included that they now work from home so it is easier to do this.

When asked ‘how did the green fee price reflect what you normally would pay?’, 33 percent said they had seen a £5 to £10 rise in green fee prices and a further three percent stated the increase was over £10.

Many of the comments from golfers surveyed were defending the price rises, with some saying they were happy to pay the extra amount, and some noting that courses were still fully booked despite the rises.

However, some golfers did say they will not return to venues that have raised their prices by significant amounts.

Furthermore, just one in ten avid golfers said they will be playing less golf in future (for reasons such as health and safety fears), while more than a third (34 percent) said they intend to play even more than they used to.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 1, 2020 11:20
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  1. Andy D June 1, 17:33

    Great news, I just hope that clubs have learned from what deterred and lost members initially and put this terrific sport on its knees at a local level. While it would be easy to take advantage of the surge and hike green fees, sustainability needs to be key. Hopefully we see vibrant, accessible and efficient golf courses for all.

    Reply to this comment
    • Kevin June 2, 11:05

      I love playing golf, but have not done so for twenty years, because of the extortionate costs of playing. Too many money grabbers in the sport sadly.

      Reply to this comment
  2. James R June 1, 16:23

    What do you think clubs can do to entice new members? I sometimes think the initial joining fee puts some new to golfer off joining, especially if you can’t play a few times a week.

    Reply to this comment
    • Daniel June 1, 21:22

      It really makes sense that golf has this latent demand as it is a well established outdoor sport, suited to social distancing. It provides a much needed escape for all of us working from home.

      James – the answer to enticing and converting visitors into members includes:

      1.) Lower the barrier to entry to becoming a member (hold open days, use the club Captains to engage in out-reach events, focus marketing to visitors to convert to members by getting their email address and consent to email them, have an active ladies club, have an active get into golf program run by the club pro etc.)

      2.) Make it financially affordable by not having a high upfront cost of joining – use Direct Debit monthly payment systems like the system we’ve developed at GolfClubSubs to spread the cost or you could look at financing companies that offer season loans.

      3.) Think about the golf member more like a customer who needs to be engaged with the product (the golf club) – so ensure that when the member joins they are oriented and introduced to other new joiners. Good tools to use here include Mailchimp where an automated welcome email can be sent, then a follow up at week 2, week 4 and week 8 to check how they are settling in. (Retention is as important as attraction)

      I’m sure there are many more pointers out there and some excellent consultants if advice is required.

      Reply to this comment
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