Visitor numbers fell by 30% in 2022

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 31, 2023 11:45

A new survey of UK golf clubs has found that they’re still performing strongly but the pandemic growth is slowing down.

Accountancy firm Hillier Hopkins polled 82 golf clubs as part of an annual research project, with 71 of them being private members’ clubs.

While the findings support other data that shows that 2022 saw more rounds of golf than any other year recorded at members’ clubs, there are still areas of concern for clubs as visitor numbers and membership increases both fell sharply compared with 2021.

Visitor numbers fell by nearly 30 percent in one year while the average club saw 70 people join it in 2022, down from 90 in 2021. It also saw an average of 48 people leave – up from 35 in 2021.

Of members at members’ clubs, 64 percent are aged 50 and over and 21 percent are aged over 70, 76 percent are men, 15 percent women and nine percent juniors.

The number of clubs with waiting lists has fallen to 52 percent in 2022 from 60 percent in 2021. The average number of people on waiting lists stands at 61.In terms of subscription costs, 74 percent of club membership fees are more than £1,000 a year and the number of clubs with memberships exceeding £1,600 a year has increased by 36 percent.

More than nine in ten clubs plan to increase fees in 2023.

The average round of golf for members has increased from £36 in 2021 to £43.50 in 2022. Non member green fees have increased from £84 to £108.

Matt Bailey, a director at accountants Hillier Hopkins, said: “Golf clubs and their members are not immune to the tightening economic picture. Social memberships are falling, with just 17 percent of clubs in our survey having 100 or more social members.

“It comes at a time when costs are rising. The average wage spend of clubs has increased from £154,000 in 2021 to £198,000 in 2022. It will come as no surprise, therefore, that 92 percent of clubs say they plan on increasing membership fees in 2023 alongside the cost of a round of golf.”

The survey also reports that 59 percent of clubs do not have a driving range although 61 percent do have swing studios, and 76 percent of clubs’ retail offering is operated by the PGA professional, although six percent do not offer any retail facilities at all.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 31, 2023 11:45
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1 Comment

  1. LPGA Master instructor February 6, 11:55

    Well it stands to reason. The solution? Involve non-golfer seniors in golf in a safe and effective way. I have researched performance and motivation for seniors in golf and been involved in a study where 10 weeks of twice weekly golf helped non golfers aged 60-80 improve gait speed, cognition and muscle strength. They are the lowest hanging fruit to get into golf as they often have the leisure time, the disposable income, and the bucket-list desire to get into golf. And yet the world of golf chases juniors without researching whether they are in golf because of parental ambition and whether they remain in golf after middle- or high-school!

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