Research shows that ‘volunteer buddies’ are vital in creating a friendly atmosphere to welcome new members to golf clubs. And two East Anglian clubs are among those which are providing the evidence.
Royal Norwich Golf Club and The Links at Newmarket, have both enlisted volunteer buddies – and they’re reaping the rewards, by attracting and retaining members.
Their success is underlined by research at Manchester Metropolitan University and England Golf will reinforce the message in the New Year, with additional support to help clubs recruit buddies.
The Links launched ‘Balls and Bubbles’, a three-stage programme for women beginners, supported by 39 buddies. They’ve helped and supported the newcomers and introduced them to club life, with the result that 50 women have signed up for a six-month Academy membership.
At Royal Norwich, the club identified the reasons why people play golf – such as the social side, being outdoors and having fun – and they made sure their programmes fitted. The club now has a reputation for being friendly, has encouraged lots of new people to join the club and best of all, is keeping them.
England Golf Volunteer Manager Matt Bloor commented: “We are now seeing more and more volunteers supporting beginners to learn the game and integrating new members into the golf club. Golf can be a challenging game to learn and feeling part of a big sports club isn’t easy, especially if you don’t know anyone. However, there are some fantastic examples of volunteers making new people feel welcome, ensuring they have an enjoyable experience and feel comfortable at the club. Having a team of buddies at a golf club is a great option if you are encouraging people to take up golf and are keen to retain new members.”
At Manchester Metropolitan University, PhD researcher Chris Mills comments on his initial findings: “Volunteers can play an important role in creating a positive atmosphere within golf clubs. They can really help a club develop a reputation for being friendly and welcoming. As well as helping to attract new members, there may be other benefits to the club. Providing opportunities for members to represent the golf club to visitors and newcomers may also inspire greater commitment towards the club among those that volunteer.”
England Golf supports clubs to encourage more volunteers. There’s an average of 23 core volunteers per club and thousands more helping out on a less formal basis. They cover a huge variety of roles from being on a board and helping shape the strategic ambitions of the club, to managing finances, to running social events and helping run competitions.
Among the resources are editable posters and Top Tips recruitment advice to attract more volunteers. In the New Year a specific workshop on recruiting buddies will become available. Interested clubs and volunteers should contact their Club Support Officer. For buddy guidance, role descriptions and further support on recruiting, retaining and recognising volunteers, visit www.englandgolf.org/supportingvolunteers