With many in the industry bemoaning the decline of golf, Farleigh Golf Club in Surrey has bucked the trend and posted its most successful financial results in its 19 year history.
Previously known as Farleigh Court, the Club was purchased by the Hayton family in 2010, who invested £6 million in the Club, with it joining The Foxhills Collection. A change of senior management followed in 2014, with General Manager Russell Stebbings leading the Club to its first ever profit in 2015/16, increasing revenue by 23% year-on-year.
The Club’s strengths have been both on and off the course – renowned locally for its Sunday carvery, the stylish modern Clubhouse recently welcomed Andy Castle (aka ‘The Inked Chef’) to head up its Nineteen restaurant, providing restaurant quality menus to members and visitors.
Weddings, meetings and events are also popular at the picturesque venue, but the golf remains the focal point for this burgeoning business.
“It’s important for clubs to diversify their offering,” says Stebbings. “Private member clubs may always have their place but need to evolve for golf to thrive instead of just survive. Participation rates in Europe for 9 hole and fun golf-based activities prove that flexibility and fresh approaches are needed and we are excited to be helping drive the sport forward.”
Tapping in to consumer needs, the Club launched its Farleigh Friends loyalty programme in July 2015 and has over 1,900 signed up, with a repeat visit rate of 47% to April 2016.
In response to feedback from this group, Farleigh is set to launch a flexible membership with pay-and-play credits in May 2016, opening up tiered privileges to members but without the commitment full membership carries.
“The Friends programme allows us to reach the casual golfer,” says Stebbings. “Not everyone wants to commit to a year-long membership but everyone deserves to be valued and belong.”
Farleigh views the future of golf clubs in a similar way to airlines.
“Our Friends are flying in economy – you get from A to B with some nice refreshments and a couple of movies. Our new Flexi Membership is like premium economy – you have a bit more flexibility and perks. But behind the curtain is the best experience; Full Members fly first class with access to Members’ Major events, social events and partner discounts.
“Farleigh is a club for all,” finishes Stebbings. “Regardless of your age, expertise, gender or dress sense, we just want people to pick up a golf club and have some fun.”
Part of The Foxhills Collection, alongside Foxhills Club & Resort in Ottershaw, Farleigh Golf Club provides a relaxed environment in which to enjoy a round, learn the game or indulge with a meal. For more information, see farleighfox.co.uk