Recent research commissioned by the English Golf Union and conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys has provided an insight into what would make non-members join a golf club and how membership could be improved in the eyes of current members.
Little evidence exists in what people perceive to be barriers to golf and membership and the research conducted in October and November last year was nationwide at private, pay and play and municipal courses. Interviews were conducted face to face with 1,000 active golfers below the age of 40, split evenly between members and non-members.
It is clear that the average golfer likes to be a member for the competitions, official handicap status and better golf courses to which their membership provides access. However, what becomes clear is a need to improve the overall service that the golf club offers.
Of those currently members of a golf club, 7.5% had resigned a membership in the previous year, but had either joined another golf club or simply reduced the number of clubs where they are members. Of those not currently members, 13% had previously belonged to a private members club and a further 8% to a proprietary or municipal club. Whilst nearly two thirds of these would consider coming back into membership, cost and social considerations are major issues. No joining fee, special offers and importantly more family facilities would encourage them. Moving region and cost were the major reasons for resigning.
It is interesting to note that 30% of the members under 25 had first started playing golf at a private members‘ club, compared to only 8% of non-members first playing the game there. The major place that non-members started playing the game was at independent driving ranges.
The EGU believes that it is crucial that stronger links are developed between ranges and golf clubs, as non-members would be interested in joining a golf club if the route was easier and better advertised. The younger golfer is more likely to become a member if they have been exposed to the club environment at an earlier age.
Other important trends identified in the research were that the majority of members were introduced through relatives or friends and that most golfers had started to play at school age.
Whilst some of these findings may seem obvious, no formal research of this kind has previously been conducted. The EGU says that it is vital that research continues in other areas of golf development to provide actual evidence for governing bodies and golf clubs.
This latest study is just part of the EGU’s research programme to aid strategic planning. Statistics from the recently distributed biennial golf club membership questionnaire will be available later on this year.
For further information please contact: Richard Flint, EGU Golf Development Manager Tel: 01526 354500 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
English Golf Union www.englishgolfunion.org.