Feedback from the 2010 Golf Club Membership Questionnaire indicates that the active promotion of flexible opportunities within golf and golf clubs must remain a key focus area for the English Golf Union (EGU) and English Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) development network.
Working in a changing and challenging consumer landscape, the England Golf Partnership recognises that clubs and counties must be creative, flexible and welcoming to succeed in a difficult economic environment.
Following completion of the 2010 Golf Club Membership Questionnaire, responded to by more than 1,000 golf clubs in England, there is positive news about membership packages and opportunities for new golfers of all ages.
The newly published Results Booklet will now be a vital resource for the England Golf Partnership (the EGP is made up of the EGU, EWGA, the Professional Golfers’ Association and supported by the Golf Foundation) in its allocation of funding and support for golf clubs and County Golf Partnerships going forwards.
This is important because the Results Booklet clearly demonstrates that club membership has felt the detrimental effect of the recession. This is evident from falling affiliation figures, increases in vacancies (95% of clubs reported membership vacancies, a 5% increase from two years ago) and the high proportion of facilities that have experienced a decrease in membership (60%).
However, the results also shows that facilities are adapting to the current economic challenges and some of the more traditional aspects of golf club membership are now changing, with high percentages of clubs offering a range of membership categories (eg: 57% of clubs offer 5-day membership, 47% offer ‘senior’, 46% ‘intermediate’ and 46% offer ‘student’ packages).
Becoming a member is now a more simplified process, is more affordable and flexible, with waiting lists and entrance fees on the decline (56% of clubs charge no entrance fee). Subscription fees have also remained steady to the rates of two years ago and golf clubs are using a variety of marketing channels to promote their facilities and membership opportunities to both those from golfing and non golfing backgrounds (eg: 71% use the internet, 53% publications, 41% have links with secondary schools and 37% have links with primary schools).
The Results Booklet shows that golf clubs are looking at ways to run their operations more effectively, with an increased number of facilities employing a Secretary/Manager, while numbers of practice facilities have been maintained thus aiding recruitment and retention rates.
The questionnaire has found that the majority of golf clubs are actively seeking members and through the County Golf Partnership structure, the EGU and EWGA are confident that participation rates will increase. By offering a variety of flexible packages, offers and innovative recruitment, facilities will be able to transform their membership in time.
Richard Flint, EGU/EWGA Golf Development Manager, said: “The 2010 Golf Club Membership Questionnaire has been well received by golf clubs and the results provide a means by which we can focus future resources and support those that require our help through our network of Development Officers.
“Golf in England is changing and it is important that as National Governing Bodies we adapt accordingly to provide the best support possible to our affiliated clubs and members.”
The EGU and EWGA believe that due to the growing success of its GolfMark programme, that is seeing more and more clubs attaining this ‘beginner-friendly’ accreditation (there are currently 378 GolfMark clubs and 589 working towards accreditation), these developments will show greater benefits for beginner golfers of all ages going forwards
To complement the 2010 Results Booklet, the EGU and EWGA will be producing specific county breakdowns by the end of the year, which will also look at regional trends.
Some 1,037 golf clubs (53%) returned a completed questionnaire, a 9% increase in returns compared with 2008. The EGU and EWGA would like to take the opportunity to thank golf clubs for their continued support of the Golf Club Membership Questionnaire.
The Golf Club Membership Questionnaire 2010 Results Booklet is available to download at www.englishgolfunion.org. Alternatively copies of the publication can be purchased from the EGU’s online shop at www.englishgolfunionshop.org.
The Golf Club Membership Questionnaire is part of the England Golf Partnership’s research strategy, and part of the England Golf Partnership’s ‘Whole Sport Plan’ for golf.