Reflections on a strong year; What’s in store for 2022?

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 13, 2022 11:05

Roger Brown, chief commercial officer at Fairway Credit, looks at what the last 12 months have meant for the golf industry, and what the next 12 should bring us.

There has been significant demand to play golf over the last two years as outlined in the European Golf Participation Report 2021. Even with courses closed for months at a time due to Covid-19 the sport has attracted increasing numbers of registered players across key European countries.

Has this been your experience; will interest continue to grow and how can golf clubs develop revenue opportunities in this buoyant market?

Strong stats close to home

As outlined in the report conducted on behalf of The R&A and European Golf Association, golf is enjoying a boom in popularity with high numbers heading to courses. These independent findings make positive reading and clearly outline growth in golf including locations close to home.

Key stats:

England

692,500 registered golfers (a 10 percent upward change 2021 v 2019) playing at 2,213 golf courses

Ireland

202,750 registered golfers (a 10 percent upward change 2021 v 2019) playing at 478 golf courses

Scotland

192,727 registered golfers (a seven percent upward change 2021 v 2019) playing at 594 golf courses

Wales

47,852 registered golfers (a 12 percent upward change 2021 v 2019) playing at 181 golf courses.

Reasons for growth

The research findings show a growth in numbers playing golf before Covid-19 hit and then increasing significantly during the pandemic as popularity grew further. To everyone’s relief golf was one of the first sports allowed back under socially distanced rules. A safe outdoor setting allowed players to gain beneficial exercise, promoting good physical and mental health when it was needed most, in addition to the usual enjoyment associated with the game. People wanted to be involved.

With government directives to work from home; increased flexibility for many; saved time on the daily commute; a desire to be in the fresh air, plus less sporting options being available, golf became increasingly popular in locations like Great Britain and Ireland. Established golfers jumped at the opportunity to get back to the game after lockdown, occasional players dusted down their clubs and newcomers were welcomed. As we all saw, golf facilities were given the opportunity to thrive.

Other factors such as the ongoing introduction of young people at a grass roots level right through to clubs providing easier access to club memberships, as we’ve witnessed at Fairway Credit, have all played a role in getting more people into the game.

Top performing countries

Markets that saw the greatest growth in registered golfers from 2019 to 2021 include England (which saw the highest country increase in Europe). Participation in Great Britain and Ireland combined went from 3.6 million to 5.7 million with golf played at more than 3,000 golf courses.

The figures are impressive but are all clubs riding this wave and strengthening their financial positions? Some are, some less so. I believe it will be the clubs who look to innovate and offer wider customer choice who will prosper and make the most of these strong trading conditions.

Using flexible payment options to make membership affordable

Making golf membership a manageable monthly outgoing rather than a single lump sum is one way of creating greater customer buy-in as well as building revenue for clubs. Offering a finance facility to meet membership costs is now commonplace.

Ongoing economic uncertainty has made a financing facility attractive to players allowing them to spread the cost of their club memberships over convenient monthly repayments. It’s also beneficial for clubs providing them with a smooth, reliable and regulatory compliant cash flow. With memberships paid to the club in full at the start of each membership year, the club can manage their own financial planning more easily helping save time and administration costs. It’s a serious consideration for clubs looking to maximise income and ease the administrative burden.

Roger Brown

Optimism for the future

Despite Covid-19 rarely being away from the headlines, golf provides the perfect tonic to help lighten the situation. We can all play a role in getting more people involved and enjoying this unique sport and all it has to offer.

For information on how to offer a finance facility to meet membership costs, tel:

0344 736 9818

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 13, 2022 11:05
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