Most golf clubs are not offering financial incentives to members

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 21, 2021 06:18

A new survey of UK golf clubs has found less than a quarter are offering either a price reduction or deferral option for members financially struggling amid the pandemic but who might want to renew their annual subscription.

This is a drop from just under a third of clubs that were offering this the last time this survey was carried out – during the first lockdown last spring.

Back then, when there were fears that clubs might go under due to a potential lack of renewals, the figure was 32 percent, now, with membership having boomed, it is 24 percent.

The percentage of clubs offering no scheme at all, not even, for example the ability to spread paying the renewal amount over a period of time, has also risen slightly, from 49 to 55 percent.

Some might even be surprised that as many 24 percent of clubs in the GolfPunk poll were offering either a price reduction or deferral option, as evidenced by some of the comments in response to the survey:

‘Why should clubs reduce fees? The club still has the same costs and this year even busier so more work is required on the course.’

‘I think that as members’ clubs we are in this together, the impact on the primary finance stream of all golf clubs by deferring, extending or returning subs would be catastrophic for golf club finances!’

‘I am happy to pay my fees as normal because I want my club to survive.’

However, others felt there should be schemes in place to help members:

‘Member of two clubs, one recognises the problems facing furloughed staff and self-employed, the other playing hardball!’

‘There should be a pro rata reduction in fees for the time the courses are closed.’

‘I would expect my club to reduce the fees at a given point when they come up for renewal in April.’

There is also evidence that clubs are imposing sanctions on those late in making payment of their subscription.

‘Quote “subscriptions due 1st January must be paid on or before 26th February or 10% interest will be added, with no exceptions”

‘Our club is imposing a £100 admin fee for all subscriptions that are paid after the due date.’

‘Club asked for additional £60 per member to cover covid expenses.’

The survey also found that more than four in five golfers believe golf courses should be open during lockdowns, and the figure rises to nearly nine in ten if the golf courses are local to golfers.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 21, 2021 06:18
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  1. Nick March 5, 18:01

    The pandemic has had a diverse effect on most businesses, many employees have been on reduced salaries. Golf clubs expecting members to pay full fees when the club has been closed seems a little selfish to me, we have all had to suffer, this should be considered. Taking subscriptions when unable to offer a service does not seem right to me.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Peter February 2, 12:37

    Loyalty goes both ways !! Long standing members, in good standing, and some others, deserve an option when times of crisis hit ! When times get bad, through no fault of their own !! Actions you take or don’t take, to help members will resonate throughout your primary markets and come full circle at some point !! I suggest reconsidering !!! Think of it as internal marketing !!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Corporal Jones January 22, 23:30

    As the government has closed golf courses, the government should reimburse members for their subscription fees.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Neil F January 21, 17:31

    It is so important to keep the members happy, they are the foundation of the golf clubs income.

    At Vallentuna Golf Club we offered members who paid their 2021 fees by the 28th November up to £150 discount, gives them Unlimited golf at Vallentuna Golf Club and access to 20 other golf courses, not bad for only £450 each season, real value for money.

    Happy Members/ Happy Owner

    Reply to this comment
  5. AKS January 21, 14:02

    My nearest members club from an email one of their members sent me:-
    As for XX GC compensation in a word nothing! When the first lockdown came into effect back in March last year it coincided with the membership renewal date and the then general manager assured everyone that there would be some kind of plan but she didn’t know when they could announce what they would be doing. Once the first lockdown was lifted and everyone was allowed to play golf again XXGC put a restriction of only booking one round a week, then that went up to two rounds after a month or so until the guidelines changing and ultimately Lockdown two and three happened.
    All the way through this there was never an announcement on what if anything the club was going to do about the closures or member compensation etc until last week when they held the AGM behind closed doors with a ten minute stream to answer a few questions which was mainly “Whats going to happen regarding the closures?” To which they answered that the members as part of a members club would need to take it on the chin as because on average everyone has played more golf than they normally would because of being furloughed which is impossible when you think about it as XXGC restricted the amount you could play to one/two rounds a week.
    My club is proprietary and as stated last April to all the members that I would be looking to give them 13 months for the price of 12 in the following year starting May 13th (the anniversary day we were allowed to reopen in 2020). Now with further lockdowns I have changed it to 14 months for price of 10 which takes into consideration to 15th Feb – 119 days. In normal years many days are lost to weather conditions but the members are not losing out on any nor paying towards any upkeep and fixed costs over all lockdown periods.

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  6. JH January 21, 13:08

    It’s a tricky one isn’t it.
    My club had almost 1000 new members join this year, so their income has gone through the roof, they are getting furlough payment from the Govt for their staff.
    This is common throughout the country so I don’t really see how their costs are the same at all to be honest.
    I expect my fee’s for next year to reflect the closures 100%

    Reply to this comment
  7. Gurr January 21, 13:00

    Is it becoming a game for the elite again?

    Reply to this comment
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