Global Edition


Dealing with Tough Economic Times

10.16am 9th December 2011 - Management Topics - This story was updated on Friday, December 9th, 2011

Following the announcement that Whitemoss Golf Club in Perthshire is to revert to farm land, the Scottish Golf Union has this morning released a statement entitled ‘How Scottish Golf Clubs are Dealing with Tough Economic Times’:

“Golf Clubs in Scotland, like many businesses, are having to adapt to the continuing, difficult financial conditions. The reality is that in the past 20 years there has been almost a 20% growth in golf courses throughout Scotland. Yet, after the impact of the economic downturn, there are no more golf club members playing than there were before this growth in facilities.

“Undoubtedly, some clubs are struggling and Whitemoss, in Perthshire, is as an example, given that it is reverting to farm land for economic reasons. There may be other clubs who also endure problems in the future.

“The soon-to-be-published Scottish Golf Facilities Plan will undoubtedly state that Scotland does not need more courses.  Instead investment in existing facilities and innovative programmes is necessary to introduce new players and retain existing players.

“Importantly, it’s not just about financial conditions. The inclement weather in Scotland has as much to do with the tough times as the economy.

“However, the latest statistics, on the whole, are positive for Scottish Golf. While national figures showed a reduction of 1.4% in adult male membership in 2010, reducing the decline against the previous year, 40.4% of Scottish clubs grew their membership in that year, illustrating how well many clubs are adapting to trying times.

“It’s encouraging to see clubs that innovate and are creative grow their membership, with the SGU working hard to support clubs with advice and tools. Our recent ‘Golf Club Membership – Time Well Spent’ national marketing campaign assisted clubs in this area. Increasing participation and supporting clubs now accounts for over 37% of our expenditure, reflecting the focus the SGU places on clubs.

“While the community spirit around many clubs is what has and will keep them going during these difficult times, where a more standard business would perhaps fail, the SGU offers key support services to clubs across Scotland.

These are as follows:

Governance – helping clubs establish the optimum structure for themselves, recognising that most clubs are significant businesses in their own right and need effective governance

Business Planning – providing tools for clubs to base decisions on real evidence. For example, benchmarking, member and visitor surveys and course utilisation

Legislation – investing in professional advice to guide clubs on a range of legislation, including Equality, H&S, Employment Law and VAT

Membership Retention and Recruitment Campaign – targeting nomadic golfers and promoting the benefits of club membership

Education – providing a range of structured education for Clubs (Secretaries, Managers and Committee members)

Increasing Participation – over 38,000 nine-year-olds introduced to golf, over 12,000 children in coaching programmes (achieved through the renowned clubgolf initiative), pilot adult participation programmes with a particular focus on ladies.”

Scottish Golf Union



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  • AndrewMackintosh

    These are worrying statistics. I remember when there were huge waiting lists at golf clubs. What has happened? We have been forced to work longer hours for less money and therefore have less leisure time. Also, larger mortgages have contributed to this culture – house price rises have destroyed golf. Where are the day off for golf followed by a boozy mid afternoon session? Oh joy.

    I suppose clubs have to compete to get golfers onto their course, and if not more importantly ensure their existing and new members are very happy. I am in a company that has developed online solutions to help clubs get new members and keep them (like buddy up where new members can post messages looking for playing partners – the thought behind it being, if you have someone to play with you are far more likely to remain a member of the club)- have a look at our features and let me know if you think they can help find and retain members at

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