PlayMoreGolf was launched as an antidote to the decline in golf memberships. At the time, our customers told us that cost to benefit ratio of holding a traditional 7-day membership was no longer viable as families struggled in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Over the past 6 years, we've continued to work with our partner clubs and prospects to understand what trends are emerging, how golfers' behaviours are changing and what products and services golf clubs need to succeed.
PlayMoreGolf’s partner base stands currently at just over 250 clubs, evenly spread throughout the UK, meaning members can play at multiple locations under one membership from Aviemore through to the base of Cornwall.
What is PlayMoreGolf and how would it work for my club?
In a nutshell, PlayMoreGolf is the largest flexible golf membership linking 14,000 players with more than 250 UK golf clubs under one membership
A Flexible member, managed by PlayMoreGolf, on behalf of a golf club can pay up to £490 a year for a membership. The price point depends on the cost of full 7-day membership and the average green fee. When members sign-up, they select their 'home club' and become a member there – not a member of 'PlayMoreGolf'.
Flexible members are administered by PlayMoreGolf and have access to a network of 250+ clubs. The costs associated with attracting new members to the club are considerably less when compared to the club undertaking this process to grow its 7-day membership base.
The key benefit for members and the club is that it brings golfers who previously have felt 'traditional' membership at a club was restrictive as to where they can play. For a club, it provides to the golfer the previously unavailable choice of places to play, at a price point reflective of the loyalty the golfer provides to a club as a member.
For the golf club, it means opening up a new category of 'member' at a cost of acquisition and administration that makes commercial sense. Plus, it delivers bottom-line profit – and doesn't cannibalise existing members.
More good news for golf clubs is that, on average, a PlayMoreGolf member spends £12.27 per person per round. Therefore, clubs should seize the opportunity to attract this group of players because not only do they frequently spend in other areas of the club, they can also become part of your traditional membership base via the PlayMoreGolf platform.
Doesn’t PlayMoreGolf mean cheap golf for the player?
Despite operating for six years, we're still new as a golf club management service. We often hear, "isn't flexible membership just cheap golf" or "why would someone not want to be a full member of our club and only play on a weekend morning?". However, it's when you go through the facts there is a lightbulb moment, which challenges the received wisdom that golf can be only enjoyed as a full member or paying a green fee.
The industry has benefited from the Covid-19 pandemic and PlayMoreGolf has played a significant part in growing many clubs' membership base over the past 18 months. We're now working with clubs to ensure the results are retained. As an industry, we are all beginning to understand the changing economic circumstances to ensure new members are not driven away from the sport due to trying to drive consumers towards categories that they can't afford or want.
On top of this, economic pressure increases for all players, with furlough now having ended and inflation set to increase into 2022 it’s the 24-to-35’s who are likely to be hardest hit by a reduction in their disposable income.
While clubs understand this cohort is vital to grow financially, only a few are actively trying to find new and innovative ways to keep their members. Of course, clubs with waiting lists have told us that there is nothing to worry about...but when you drill a little deeper, you find that ‘golfers in waiting’ are not as loyal as you might hope. For them, joining multiple lists only increases their chances of playing regular golf sooner.
What can my club do to continue its success into next season?
For success in 2022 and beyond, UK clubs should consider optimising their membership mix, welcoming ‘traditional members’ and players facing challenging economic circumstances but still want to play albeit in a different way. For example, PlayMoreGolf members are also driving up demand at an off-peak time with 72% of members playing after 1 pm during the spring and summer.
If you look at the total course utilisation in 2021 vs 2020, the statistics are already starting to show a considerable reduction in midweek traffic. This then poses the question as to whether member-only subscriptions can meet the operational costs of running a golf club, or whether additional revenue streams are required. For clubs, all players drive revenue, and PlayMoreGolf members are helping increase course utilisation, often at multiple courses simultaneously. Our members can visit any one of 250 partner clubs in the UK, all of whom spend money in pro-shops and bars…
If you look at the maths of 3.2million golfers rising to 5.2m in 2020 (Sports Marketing Survey recent report) and membership numbers of 650,000 – making golf a member-only pursuit will leave a lot of golfers disappointed at a time when golf is making big steps to be more inclusive and less exclusive. At PlayMoreGolf we don’t subscribe to the idea that a golfer will only get what the club is prepared to offer, as the golfer will (often) go elsewhere. This is a harsh lesson for some clubs to understand, especially post-pandemic as clubs feel they are sitting pretty, and the good old days have returned.
That’s why we’re encouraging all clubs to consider the different pathways to becoming full members of their club. For example, this year, almost half of PlayMoreGolf members that did not renew went on to upgrade to a golf club 5-day or 7-day membership category. The opportunity for clubs, therefore, is to offer members several options. Not only does this protect revenue and promote growth, but it also helps build relationships with prospective members.
Interview with Alastair Sinclair, CEO, PlayMoreGolf