“The post-Covid recovery may have papered over the cracks”

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick August 1, 2022 14:59

The sharp rise in members at golf clubs in the UK over the last two and a half years have not solved ‘deep-seated problems’ in the industry, according to an article in The Times newspaper.

Membership in England alone rose by nearly 100,000 people from 2020 to 2021, according to figures released earlier this year, although they’re still about 150,000 below the number set in 2004.

Speaking to The Times, Robert Clive, co-owner of golf consultancy 360 Golf, said: “The post-Covid recovery may have papered over the cracks but deep-seated problems remain. In the late 80s and early 90s there was a boom in course building. Many of these clubs are getting very tired. They are often poorly managed by committees and struggle with finance. They cannot agree and difficult decisions get parked.

“Nobody likes change, least of all old golfers. They live in a world of parking spots reserved for club captains and disputes over whether jeans can be worn in the bar.”

On top of this, the paper states that some routes that are considered gateways into the game are either being blocked or weren’t actually acting as gateways at all.

For instance, municipal courses are increasingly being closed, typically to be converted into housing, while the article also states that playing golf as a video game, instead of making it more likely for a youngster to take up the game, will have the opposite effect ‘because it’s so much harder to perform a smooth shot in real life … which requires skill, patience and lots of time … than it is on a digital device.’

James Day, creator of new golf clothing company, Sounder, agreed that the pathway for beginners to take up the game still needs to be improved. He said: “The gateway into the game is broken. Playing 18 holes is intimidating and stressful. Pitch and putt is a far better way in. We’re sick of the golf industry’s obsession with distance and power and technology.”


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick August 1, 2022 14:59
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  1. PMC August 13, 10:42

    It would be good if this article had a link to read the full paper it’s referencing!!

    Reply to this comment
  2. WGTF August 3, 10:47

    So true the clubs that are thriving are modernised and changing their business model and the same arguments being made about clothing over the last 40 years are still happening

    Reply to this comment
  3. Saunders July 31, 09:02

    Genuine conversation this week when speaking about introducing Toptracer at a private members venue…..

    “Let them go to the local golf centre with it, our members come here for 18 holes, not to have fun”

    Reply to this comment
  4. Psych July 30, 10:38

    Excellent points and the failure of the industry to take advantage of modern neuroscience for improving the psychological experience is frightening. Golf will be left in the wake of other leisure pursuits

    Reply to this comment
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