Clubs should look to opportunities in 2022, not the successes of the past year


We’ve worked with our partner clubs and prospects to understand what patterns are emerging following the success of 2021 and now golfers are returning to a ‘new normal’.

Across the market, we’ve seen course utilisation drop to as low as 35% in some cases, and while this might be a concern there are positive positives. Feedback from our partner clubs tells at that they’re in some of the best financial health since 2008. Many of our private member clubs tell us that their membership capacity is full and waiting lists are returning.

This success can be linked to an influx of 5-day and 7-day members joining during the pandemic, which is positive for each club individually but there are some economical warnings on the horizon. For golf clubs to insure themselves against a big drop in ‘traditional’ members for the 2022 season an improved 'membership mix' can be the key to sustained growth next year and beyond.

R&A and England Golf data identified the 24-to-35’s as the group with the strongest uplift in members in their most recent report. At PlayMoreGolf we understand that golf has increased in popularity as a leisure activity. Whilst the lockdown has boosted membership numbers, this loyalty cannot be relied on. Especially now all restrictions are lifted, and sports of every kind can return, golf faces stiffer competition than ever.

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.

That’s why we’re encouraging all clubs – waiting list or not – to consider the different pathways to becoming a full member of their club. For example, this year, almost half of PlayMoreGolf members that did not renew went on to upgrade to a golf clubs 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.

For continued success in 2022, 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 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…

PlayMoreGolf members are also driving up demand at off-peak time with 72% of members playing after 1 pm during the spring and summer. The PlayMoreGolf app provides a way to easily manage their golf that works in harmony with the frantic timetables of the modern family – with players booking a round of golf on average three days before.

To find out more about introducing a flexible golf membership at your club, visit playmore.golf/club-partner, or watch our webinar on the pressure the pandemic placed on tee sheets availability. We discuss how tee-sheet pressure beginning to decrease and what you can do to make this an area of profitability at your golf club.

Written by Alastair Sinclair

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