When many golf clubs throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland are looking anxiously at dwindling membership lists, Goodwood, the West Sussex resort, has reported a steady growth in new players because of its credit membership.
So far this year Goodwood has attracted over 100 new members and its innovative management style is already being studied by some of the major golf resorts as they bid to attract more golfers.
Goodwood introduced a new category of credit membership back in 2006, which did not require a hefty financial commitment with joining fees and subscriptions which has proved to be a deterrent to many would-be members keen to join but unable to fund the outlay in the current economic climate.
The difficulty has become more acute as golfers cannot afford to maintain their subscriptions and choose to resign. In 2011 a survey showed that British and Irish clubs lost 42,700 members which accounted for a 14 per cent revenue loss or the equivalent of £11,500 from every club.
Moreover the number of clubs in Britain and Ireland in 2011 fell below 3,000 and the scarcity of golfers prompted the Scottish Golf Union to call for a halt in the construction of new courses north of the border.
Against this background, Lord March, owner of the Goodwood estate came up with the idea of members simply paying for the amount of golf they play and thus avoiding a much larger financial burden.
Lord March explained: “Members purchase a bundle of credits for rounds of golf for themselves and their guests thus avoiding the annual cost usually associated with club membership.”
The system has had significant results with Goodwood enjoying 93 per cent retention rate of members who themselves have recommended 65 per cent of new members to join the club.
Lord March added: “Credit membership means that golfers whether they play every day or just once in a while, enjoy all the benefits you would expect from an exceptional golf environment. The recession has probably helped Golf At Goodwood as credit membership has given people more value from their golf which is why our membership has increased year-on-year.”