More clubs report record membership growth

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 2, 2021 07:25

Several more UK golf clubs have reported record membership growth in the last year (and optimism for 2021), even though in most cases their courses have been closed for more than a third of that time.

Thetford Golf Club in Norfolk has introduced a waiting list for potential new members following a huge increase in membership in the last 12 months.

Manager Malcolm Grubb said: “We have had to suspend processing new applications until the course is open again and we will not be able to clear the list straight away. Our points-based Breckland membership is full and places will only be offered as vacancies arise if and when existing memberships are not renewed.

“Despite three lockdowns there has been a massive demand to play golf – after all, it is a sport that fits in so well with any restrictions that apply.

Thetford Golf Club. Image from Facebook

“Social distancing requirements meant we played in two-balls before the latest lockdown. That effectively halved the number of players on the course and meant it was members only – we could not accommodate guests or visitors.

“Virtually every tee time was snapped up as players took advantage of the opportunity to get out in the fresh air to enjoy healthy exercise and wonderful scenery. And they could also leave concerns over Covid-19 in abeyance for four hours or so.

“Let’s hope it won’t be long before we can all do that again.”

Forres Golf Club, situated in the heart of Moray, has seen more than 200 new members sign up, with a 40 percent increase in tee time usage.

The club’s general manager Sean Blacklaw believes that a number of factors have led to the increase in membership and the number of people using the course.

Forres Golf Club. Image from Facebook

He said: “It has certainly been a funny old six months to a year, but it has been almost like a mini revival for golf.

“In the last six months we have had more than 200 new members sign up. All of our members have been excellent, they have supported us throughout the pandemic, in full lockdown they were paying fees when the club was closed.

“I think there are lots of different things which have led to the increase in people playing golf.

“A number of people are on furlough with more time to play, people are venturing into other sports and a few boys are coming back to play with other sports put on hold. Also, this is a time where we are locked inside. It’s a good thing for everybody’s mental health to be out in the open air in a safe environment.

“We are really excited for the year going forward.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccination programme rolling out so we have reason to be optimistic.

“We have a few big competitions scheduled and our season is due to get under way with the MFR Cash for Kids Charity Texas Scramble Open on the last Sunday in March, as is traditional.”

Despite the latest lockdown and course closure, Skipton Golf Club says it is quietly confident that once restrictions are relaxed it will quickly get back into the swing of things both on and off the course, while continuing to follow play safe, stay safe guidelines in place at all times.

Skipton Golf Club’s men’s and ladies’ captains Ian Sewell and Ros Moloney are pictured on the first tee in May last year on the resumption of play following the first lockdown. They or their successors are hoping to be in a position to repeat the exercise soon.

Club chairman Jim Fox said: “Fortunately, we find ourselves in a reasonably secure financial position, which gives us the flexibility to make some further investment in both the club and its facilities.”

One major new development in the pipeline this year is an extension to the pro shop to create a new junior academy, incorporating a swing studio and golf simulator, a forward-looking initiative made possible partly by the generosity of long-serving member David Rasche.

The club is also pursuing a programme of continuous improvements to the scenic 18-hole course.

The club’s membership is ‘continuing to rise’ and is now standing at 440-strong across all categories.

Two new membership categories have been introduced, including weekday and six-day flexible options, plus an extended membership offer to new members.

Men’s captain Ian Sewell said: “I can only see good for the future as the club goes from strength to strength.”



Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 2, 2021 07:25
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  1. Homemadetoast February 5, 12:50

    great rates will soon disappear when there are no members subs to support the clubs through winter.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Peter February 3, 18:32

    Great to hear !! Getting them is easy !! Keeping them is obviously key !! Where internal marketing, pride and loyalty all play an important and vital role !!

    Reply to this comment
  3. ErnieLong February 3, 07:39

    How many would have joined if the new £40 handicap was available and a friendly golf society that plays a different course every week???

    I think golf societies are going to be massive in 2021, I might even start my own ! They will change golf clubs because if you have 100 golfers wanting to play every week, golf clubs will be delighted to deal with us, we will get great rates, plus food and drinks revenue etc at great courses, maybe golf membership will become a thing of the past at certain clubs. Weekend golf societies taking over from Saturday comps, mixed golf societies ! Why not maybe golf membership at one club is too restricting ?

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