Two more golf clubs report extraordinary membership growth

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 7, 2020 17:24

Two UK golf clubs, nearly 600 miles apart, have become the latest to report an extraordinary rise in membership since May, with many of the new members being under the age of 40.

One of the clubs is in southern England, the other is in northern Scotland.

Helene Issom, club secretary of Haywards Heath Golf Club in Sussex, told The Telegraph: “To date we’ve had 167 new members, so we’re up to over 780 in total. And out of those, about 70 percent are under 40. So it’s really good for the industry.

“This is exactly what golf needed to get rid of the perception that it’s too expensive or takes up too much time.

“A lot of people are working from home and not having to travel as much. They’re not spending as much on rail fares and it gives them the opportunity to play a cheeky nine holes here and there.”

Haywards Heath Golf Club. Image from Facebook

Meanwhile, Nairn Dunbar Golf Club in the Highlands of Scotland, has said 80 members have joined since the course reopened in May.

Laura and Colin McChristie have recently joined, also enjoying coaching as part of their welcome to the club.

Laura said: “It is a great and friendly course to play with stunning views and some challenging holes, with the wind making each hole different every time you play it. The coaching is fantastic with such a friendly approach and good visual tools to help explain the points and a follow up email to help you remember.”

Dave Towersey, another new member, added: “I have found Nairn Dunbar to be a very friendly and welcoming club and have been able to play regularly since joining. The free lessons were very helpful and have increased my enjoyment immediately.”

Nairn Dunbar Golf Club

In addition, Port Glasgow Golf Club is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a record 200 members – for the first time in 30 years.

Captain Nicky Rodger told the Greenock Telegraph: “Over the last four to five months I phoned around 600 to 700 people and we now have between 80 and 90 new members.

“It’s the first time in 30 years that we have reached 200, with a realistic target of 250 for next year.

“We have a junior section that now has around 50 kids who enjoy free lessons – back in 2017 the club had only six junior members.

“We should see the benefits next year when we hope to to reduce our long-term members’ fees.

“It’s a new chapter in the history of the club and we are looking to the future.”

Equipment sales have also soared, as TaylorMade has seen a three-fold increase year on year.

“It’s certainly been a roller coaster,” says Europe brand director Paul Hitchenor.

“As soon as golf courses opened – and this is a similar story across most of the big brands – things just took off. But we couldn’t possibly have predicted the height of the bounce back up, nor the length of time that it has been sustained.

“I think it helped that golf was one of the sports included in the first stage of the lifting of government restrictions due to the exercise benefit and the ability to socially distance. Golf has a big role to play in terms of wellbeing and mental health as well as physical health benefits.”

Golf shoe sales have surged from online retailers in the last three months. Image by Mick De Paola

Online apparel service has also been booming lately.

“In April I was talking to one of our investors and they said we should write off 2020,” says founder Ian McLeod.

“There was so much uncertainty. We didn’t realise just how dramatically things would turn around. March and April, which is traditionally when the golf season starts, we were 70 percent down on sales, but from May onwards it’s gone crazy. As soon as people realised that golf courses were going to reopen it’s been manic.

“Golf shoes, in particular, have sold like never before. We’re 250 percent up year on year. People don’t want to – or can’t – go to a shop and try on shoes, so online businesses like ours have benefitted.

“But we’re not getting carried away, we know the future is uncertain.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 7, 2020 17:24
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1 Comment

  1. Boaler September 5, 20:02

    Moray Golf Club in Lossiemouth has increased membership by 307 since May.

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