Mannings Heath Golf and Wine Estate in West Sussex has joined the growing list of Uk golf clubs that have experienced a significant upturn in membership enquires since golf came out of lockdown on May 13.
The Horsham-based club, which offers an 18-hole championship course and a full size 9-hole course, has reported a ‘surge’ in membership signups since the club was allowed to re-open.
Barry Anderson, managing director of Mannings Heath Golf and Wine Estate, said: “We’ve seen a definite surge from new, younger players looking for shorter games than before the lockdown. Members joining now are generally in the age range of 30 to 50 years old, whereas before the pandemic most club players were retired, and many in their 70s.”
Like many clubs, Mannings Heath has widened the gaps between tee times to ensure a safe social distance between groups. Games can be played alone, with one person from a different household or up to three others from within a household group.
The time slots suit the new members, Anderson says, who are often busy people with families, as it leads to a faster-paced game.
“The new players generally want to tee off at 6.30am or after 4.30pm in the afternoon, to fit in a game around their working day. At Mannings Heath, there is also the option of the 18-hole Waterfall international course and the 9-hole Kingfisher course, which further reduces time on the fairway and offers more timeslots.
Anderson added: “From feedback, this could be the start of a new type of engagement with golf after the lockdown ends; many members are planning to work from home, for two or three days a week. They have proved to themselves that they can take time out for a healthy leisure pursuit in the working week and still get their work done. We are getting dozens of new enquiries each day. The number of members at Mannings Heath halved just before the lockdown; we are on target to replace and surpass that number very quickly.”
“With gyms, swimming pools and other indoor places to exercise still closed and no date for opening, many people are choosing golf. In addition to the course, members can use a driving range, putting green and tennis court – and then all the facilities of the clubhouse when the lockdown is finished, two bars and a dining room, with meeting rooms available too.”
Anderson says that there is a programme to attract young people to the sport, with Mannings Heath staff visiting local schools and also offering weekend courses for children’s groups. Membership is free of charge for children up to the age of 12, and priced at £50 for 13 to 17 years, on the Kingfisher course.