Full Report - England Golf

Report
England Golf Membership Survey 2014
Full Report
September 2014
Background
• SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. continuously carry out in-depth
surveys into different sporting sectors, targeted specifically at the regular
participant.
• This biennial study on behalf of England Golf is designed to help England
Golf understand the membership situation nationwide and within each
county union.
• Paper copies of the questionnaire were distributed to every affiliated Golf
Club in the country. In addition, an online version of the questionnaire was
made available for managers/secretaries/Pros to fill in. Responses were
received between March and July 2014.
Current Situation
•
Club memberships are in a precarious position, with a combination of fewer players taking up
the game and a greater number of golfers reverting to independent, unaffiliated, play.
• This is in response to constrictions in financial circumstances and to the amount of time
available for recreation, which has resulted in a decline in the number of club members
over the last two years.
•
The widespread availability of discounted tee times and the desire to play a range of courses
rather than one course regularly are other potential influences on this pattern.
Golf clubs continue to be dominated by men either approaching late middle age or already
embracing retirement.
•
•
Whilst such golfers must be accommodated and enticed by clubs, forming as they do, the
single key demographic for clubs, it is essential that Secretaries/ Managers be careful to
ensure that they are also offering competitive packages and appropriate offers for younger
men and particularly for women and juniors.
•
To survive and thrive in this climate, clubs must review both their membership structure, and
the activities and benefits which they offer as part of the golf membership experience. Offering
a holistic experience that encompasses both golfing and social benefits over independent play,
whilst recognising the financial and time restrictions placed on players is essential.
Key Recommendations – Non-members
•
With golfers allowing their memberships to lapse in greater numbers, clubs must look at both retention of
current members and recruitment of new members, perhaps even players new to the game, as priorities.
•
The key challenge is to break down the barriers to entry so that those new to the game will feel comfortable
engaging with a golf club environment as well as being happy that they can afford membership.
•
Interestingly, cost in itself does not appear to be the most insurmountable barrier. Instead, the research
suggests, it is the perception of a complex, long winded or non-transparent joining system that deters
golfers from joining. Thus joining fees appear to be a much bigger obstacle to greater membership than
high membership fees.
Clubs who have lowered membership fees in an attempt to attract more members are less likely to have
increased their membership over the last two years than those who have provided additional benefits or
processes to ease the joining process, such as hosting induction days, structured coaching taster sessions
or working with County Golf Partnerships.
Nor are joining fees an effective way of ensuring membership retention. It does not necessarily stand to
reason that a person struggling to afford the financial commitment of a golf membership subscription will
pay their fees simply in order not to forfeit a joining fee paid during a period in which their financial situation
was more stable.
• In fact, clubs verbatim responses suggest that rewarding loyalty through offers in the bar or Pro shop,
or through reductions in subscription fees for long-standing members, rather than highlighting the
fear of losing a joining fee, is a more compelling method of encouraging golfers to continue a
membership.
Removing, or at least significantly reducing joining fees, as opposed to membership fees, could be a
positive step for most clubs.
•
•
•
Key Recommendations – Current Members
•
Ensuring the quality and value of not only the golf course, but the whole club environment is a key way of
encouraging golfers to renew membership at a particular course.
• Whilst demonstrating to members the commitment to investment and development was cited by
responding clubs as the single greatest factor underlying membership retention, a number of clubs
stressed the importance of offering a wider package. In fact, social events were cited as an
inducement to membership renewal by a greater number of clubs than cited benefits or discounts.
• Communicating with members was considered of even wider importance, helping to present the club
as a social hub as well as a sports venue.
•
Increasing the number of different types of membership is a clear way to insulate the club against at least
some of the impact of reduced overall participation in the game. Clubs can make a greater effort to offer
flexible packages.
Within this, intermediate memberships are among the most beneficial types of membership for clubs to
introduce, where appropriate. Courses should also consider increasing the maximum age of these
memberships, to include golfers up to the age of 35.
With many people not beginning careers until later in life than was the case in the past, and therefore rising
up the corporate ranks at a later age, many golfers in their late twenties and early thirties are finding
themselves unable to justify such a high spend, especially since, at the same age they are also often facing
work and family pressures that mean that they are time poor and therefore playing fewer rounds. Several
golf clubs in the study noted that the introduction of flexible memberships was the only initiative preventing
some current members from leaving the club altogether.
• With less than two thirds of current members playing once a week, clubs must be ready to react to
requests for membership packages tailored for those playing less frequently, but who still want the
benefits of joining.
•
•
Key Recommendations – Current Members
•
Golf clubs must also ensure that they are differentiating themselves from other sports
facilities in terms of their social offering.
•
Cultivating an atmosphere in which golfers of all generations can feel comfortable, and
which defies the old, often inaccurate, stereotypes is key to increasing rates of membership.
After all, the pastoral benefits of a golf club’s social and competitive offerings can only be
enjoyed if golfers want to engage with their fellow members.
•
Offering events such as quiz nights, themed evenings, music performances and other
communal gatherings provides both a boost to golf clubs’ bar takings and also to the sense
of cohesion within the club. This atmosphere is something that clubs can emphasise both to
current members, and also to those outside the club.
Key Recommendations
•
Whilst cash and time rich senior golfers account for a higher proportion of members than ever, golf clubs
should make sure that they are not excluding younger players to cater for this group.
• Pace of play is an issue that continues to preoccupy golfers, and was mentioned by some clubs as
an issue deterring players from membership, and ensuring that the senior sections of all golf clubs
are accommodating of quicker players or smaller groups’ needs could help to redress this
imbalance.
•
Flexible memberships could benefit most if not all clubs. This type of package has a number of benefits:
• To golfers
• Allows golfers the freedom to play golf as much as they can without having to restrict
themselves to 5 or 6 day packages, which are often incompatible with working hours.
• Offers a more affordable means of entry to the golf club environment for those who play
infrequently or are learning the game.
• Offers flexibility to golfers who cannot play frequently because of family or work pressures.
• Makes it easier for golfers to encourage friends and family to join with a plan that suits them.
•
To clubs
• Encourages existing members to simply re-tailor their package if they find that they are
playing less golf than they expect, rather than leave the club altogether.
• Attracts new members.
• The higher number of overall members increases spending in the Pro shop, bar, driving
range and on taking lessons.
Key Recommendations
•
Similarly, intermediate memberships could be extended across a wider age range, and could also
be implemented by a greater proportion of clubs. In fact, around a third of clubs still offer no such
package.
•
Currently offered only to the age of 28 on average, clubs must react to both the financial and
golfing climates by improving their offering for golfers into their mid thirties. More detailed analysis
later in the report shows that this initiative, which already yields benefits in terms of greater rates
of membership among those clubs which do offer intermediate packages, need not negatively
impact golf clubs’ financial situation.
• Intermediate memberships also help lay a path for membership retention, or at least
retention in terms of participation for young adults who often allow their membership to
lapse at the age of 18, when subscription fees increase dramatically, but when many are
taking their own financial responsibility for the first time and are also in the process of
moving in order to start further education. The combination of the two phenomena results in
many of these players being lost to golf, since it is not financially viable either to continue
membership at a home course, or in a new city, since they will likely be splitting their time
between the two locations. Much greater flexibility is therefore needed with regards to
young adult golfers. Moreover, when these players move onto the job market, they still
require easing into the golf club environment, and since the progression up the pay scale is
now delayed compared to previous generations, financial considerations are at the forefront
of golfers’ minds into their late twenties and early thirties.
Juniors
•
In an era where courses are struggling to attract young people to take up golf, they should be encouraged
to remove archaic regulations and overly formal application processes. Some clubs explained in verbatim
form how junior golfers must; play 9 holes with the captain; be assessed by coaches; be supervised until
the age of 16. Although it must be said that such courses are in a minority, the perception of such a
restrictive environment can potentially harm juniors’ impressions of golf.
•
The average club has less than five junior girl members, perpetuating a vicious circle whereby young girls
are less likely to want to join an environment in which they form a clear minority.
•
Clubs which can demonstrate a commitment to junior play, either by offering regular individual or group
lessons, or by offering the services of a dedicated junior organiser, can appeal more easily to junior players
and, crucially to their parents. Clubs are significantly more likely to have increased the size of their junior
membership over the last two years if they deploy at least one junior organiser.
•
Clubs that offer a dynamic junior section are more likely to see higher rates of retention among their junior
members and to encourage current members to recommend their club to others.
•
Juniors are more likely to be energised and continue with golf, and with membership, into adulthood if they
have a positive experience of junior golf.
Membership numbers
Membership Numbers - Summary
•
65% of clubs in the sample are private members’ courses, whilst 26% are proprietary clubs. Artisan
(3%) and Municipal (6%) courses are also represented.
•
499 is the average number of golf club members. 24% of clubs report no change to their membership
numbers in the last two years whilst 21% report having more members than two years ago. However,
the majority of clubs (55%) report a decrease in their number of members over the same period.
•
On average golf clubs report that 77 new members have joined in the last two years, whilst 85 have
left in the same period, equating to an average decrease of 8 golfers per course.
•
April (31%) and January (26%) are the most common months for a golf club’s subscription year to
begin.
•
Adult males continue to account for the vast majority of golf club memberships (77%), whilst adult
females account for 15% of members. Junior boys (7%) also significantly outnumber junior girls (1%).
- Moreover this concentration of adult males shows no signs of dilution. In fact adult males is
the category in which golf clubs are most likely to have increased their membership over the
last two years. 27% have increased their number of adult men, compared to 21% which have
increased their number of adult women, 22% the number of junior boys and 20% the number
of junior girls.
Membership Numbers - Summary
•
Clubs reported that 96% of their members are white. (Among the English population as a whole,
80% are white.)
•
90% of golf clubs do not have a waiting list in any membership category.
- For the minority of clubs which have a waiting list, the vast majority is for adult males
(94%).
- Where applicable, the average number of golfers on a waiting list is 27.
•
95% of golf clubs have membership vacancies.
- Clubs tend to have the most vacancies for adult men (an average of 64), whilst there are
50 vacancies on average for adult women. There are 35 and 37 vacancies respectively for
junior boys and junior girls.
•
Adult female members are slightly more likely to play on average once a week (62%) than adult men
(59%).
•
7 day memberships are by far the most commonly offered package. Just over two thirds of clubs
offer social or intermediate memberships whilst 65% offer student rates.
•
Despite being offered by relatively few clubs (25%), flexible memberships are arguably the most
powerful way of attracting new members. 34% of clubs which offer flexible packages have increased
their membership in the last two years, significantly higher than any other type. This is compared to
only 16% of those clubs which don’t offer flexible packages.
Membership Numbers - Summary
Each club has an average of 148 members aged over 65, and 109 aged between 55 and 64 years.
- This compares to just 16 members aged 20 to 25 and 13 aged 26 to 29.
- In total the average golf club has 84 members aged under 35. Clubs have less than
half as many members aged under 35 as between 45 and 64 and less than a
quarter members aged under 35 as 35 and over.
The average junior fee is around £120 per year, whilst the average intermediate fee is £439 for
men and £423 for women. The current maximum average age of intermediate memberships is 28.
Full adult memberships cost just under £850 per year on average.
Senior members pay just over £600 per year.
Type of Golf Club
Artisan
3%
Proprietary
26%
Municipal
6%
Private
Members
65%
Base: 699
Current Membership Total
MEMBERSHIP CHANGE OVER
LAST 2 YEARS
Increased
21%
Unchanged
24%
Decreased
55%
Base: 691
34% net decrease vs 2012
499 is the average number of golf club members
Current Membership Total
• Where a clubs membership had increased the average increase is 46
people.
• Where a clubs membership has decreased the average decrease is
42 people.
• On average, 77 golfers have joined each club in the last 2 years.
• On average, 85 golfers have left each club in the last 2 years.
• This equates to an average decrease of 8 golfers per club.
Subscription start month
35%
31%
30%
25%
26%
20%
15%
10%
5%
0%
Base: 700
7%
3%
5%
7%
5%
3%
1%
2%
3%
1%
Membership groups
AVERAGE
NUMBER OF
MEMBERS PER
CLUB
Junior girls
Junior Boys
Adult Women
Adult Men
% of membership
100%
0.9%
6.6%
15.1%
80%
60%
4
40%
31
77.4%
20%
0%
70
361
Adult Males
Adult Females
Junior Boys
Junior Girls
Base: Adult Males (667), Adult Females (652), Junior Boys (642), Junior Girls (622)
Current Membership Total
MEMBERSHIP CHANGE OVER LAST 2
YEARS
100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
27%
21%
22%
19%
24%
23%
20%
43%
Increased
Unchanged
54%
ADULT MEN
55%
ADULT
WOMEN
55%
JUNIOR BOYS
Decreased
38%
JUNIOR
GIRLS
Base: Adult Males (654), Adult Females (647), Junior Boys (632), Junior Girls (623)
Ethnic composition of golf clubs
NUMBER OF
PLAYERS PER
COURSE
455
% of membership
100%
80%
Mixed
60%
Chinese or
other ethnic
background
7
3
White
96%
40%
Black or Black
British
20%
Asian or Asian
british
members
3
6
0%
0
200
400
600
Base: Asian/Asian British (423), Black/Black British(389), Chinese or other (377), Mixed (297), White (522)
Membership waiting lists
Yes
10%
Categories with a
waiting list
94%
Adult Males
32%
Adult Females
No
90%
16%
Junior Boys
6%
Junior Girls
0%
50%
100%
The average number of golfers on a waiting list at each club with a waiting list is 27
Base: 691
Base: 63
Membership vacancies
Average Number of
Vacancies per
Category
No
5%
Yes
95%
Adult Males
(478)
64
Adult Females
(476)
50
Junior Boys
(431)
35
Junior Girls
(437)
37
0
Base: 695
50
100
% of golfers who play…
% who play once a week
% who play once a month
59%
Adult Males
(510)
65%
62%
Adult Females
(480)
66%
50%
Junior Boys
(422)
61%
44%
Junior Girls
(344)
56%
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
Types of membership offered
94%
7 day
Social
69%
Intermediate
69%
65%
Student
58%
5 day
44%
Corporate
43%
Senior
25%
Flexible
22%
Other
20%
Family
15%
6 day
0%
Base: 690
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
Types of membership offered and their effect on overall membership
change in last two years
% of those clubs which offer each type of membership whose
membership total has…
Increased
19%
47%
34%
21%
51%
28%
27%
45%
28%
Decreased
Unchanged
21%
24%
22%
22%
24%
24%
54%
53%
55%
56%
55%
55%
21%
21%
21%
24%
23%
23%
25%
62%
13%
Intermediate Memberships
The existence of intermediate and/or student membership categories is influential in convincing
golfers in the their 20s and 30s to join golf clubs and/or to retain the memberships they had when
younger.
Golf clubs which have an intermediate category have an average of 17 members aged 20-25, 13
aged 26-29, and 20 between 30-34. Although the latter age group is higher than the average
maximum age for intermediate memberships (28), those in their early thirties have been included in
this discussion because of the likelihood that they have been members for multiple years, and that
their continued adherence to a particular club is therefore, in part, a result of loyalty accrued through
years of paying intermediate membership fees.
- To a lesser extent the existence of student memberships is also an inducement to
membership. Those clubs that offer student rates have on average 1 more member aged
between 20 and 24.
In clubs with intermediate memberships, there are 50 members aged 20 to 34, which is significantly
higher than the total of 36 among clubs without. With 14 more members on average per club, it
becomes evident that offering intermediate memberships is an initiative that can be hugely beneficial
to a golf club.
Despite this, only 69% of clubs currently offer intermediate memberships.
Intermediate memberships
• Further examination of this issue provides additional evidence of the potential benefits of intermediate
memberships to golf clubs, particularly when viewed with a longer term eye.
• Perspective 1: Intermediate memberships already pay for themselves.
- (30 members (aged 20-29) paying £439 (the average intermediate membership fee) and 20 members
(aged 30-34) paying £845 (the average full membership fee) =£30,070 p.a. 36 members paying £845 per
year at clubs without intermediate fees = £30,420 p.a).
- When expenditure from the bar, Pro shop, driving range and lessons is taken into account, intermediate
memberships are of significant net worth.
• Perspective 2: Even in the crudest of financial terms Golf clubs could comfortably afford to extend intermediate
rates to cover those up to the age of 35. Intermediate memberships for all golfers aged 20-34 pay for themselves
provided that the average full membership fee were 1.389 times (or 39%) greater than the average intermediate
fee paid.
- In other words, intermediate membership fees have to be 72% of full adult fees in order to break even in
terms of subscription fees alone. (36/50 = 0.72 or 72%)
- Even a notional reduction compared to the full adult fee may promote a sense among golfers in their early
thirties that the club is making every effort to accommodate them.
- This figure does not take account of greater expenditure in the bar, Pro shop, driving range or in terms of
lesson fees, all of which are corollaries of having a greater number of members as opposed to a smaller
clientele spending more on membership fees. Once these are included, clubs could charge intermediate
fees for under 35 year olds equivalent to even less than the stated 72%
- N.B: The financial picture may actually be even healthier than this. Neither of these models account for
the additional income generated by golfers in their forties and even fifties who joined in earlier life as
intermediate members. Nor has any attempt been made to calculate the impact of a higher number of
golfers in their twenties and thirties on the rate of joining of junior golfers.
Minimum and Maximum ages for membership categories
66
70
63
60
50
40
28
30
20
18
18
24
26
20
8
10
0
Junior
Student
Intermediate
Minimum Age (excluding n/a)
Adult
Senior
Maximum Age (excluding n/a)
Base: Juniors (414), Students (393), Intermediate (493), Adult (545), Senior (361)
Members’ ages
Average number of members in each age group
148
160
140
120
109
100
85
80
60
40
41
21
15
16
16-19
y.o
20-25
y.o
20
13
19
0
0-15 y.o
Base: 408
26-29
y.o
30-34
y.o
35-44
y.o
45-54
y.o
55-64
y.o
Over 65
y.o
Membership fees
Average membership fees
£845 £848
£900
£800
£612 £605
£700
£600
£439 £423
£500
£400
£300
£200
£121 £118
£100
£0
Junior fee
(634)
Intermediate fee
(532)
Men
Full Adult fee
(663)
Women
Senior fee
(329)
The impact of membership fees
The impact of joining fees is perhaps even more pronounced because of the lack of
correlation between the cost of membership subscriptions and the likelihood of golf
clubs having increased their number of members over the last two years.
Clubs who have reduced membership fees in an attempt to generate new members
are less likely to have succeeded than clubs which have provided other, more holistic
benefits or worked with external bodies to appeal to new demographics.
Clubs that have experienced increases in their membership numbers, charged full
adult members an average of £861.09, compared to the £761.53 that was charged by
those clubs that have experienced a decrease in adult members. It was also higher
than the average price (£826.97) charged by clubs whose membership has remained
unchanged in the last two years.
- The same holds true of junior fees (£135.07 among clubs which increased junior
membership over the last two years compared to £113.13 among those which have
lost junior members in the same period).
- The same is also true of intermediate and senior fees.
Initiatives and strategies
Initiatives and Strategies - Summary
•
Membership offers/incentives is the most commonly used initiative by clubs to
attract new members.
- Structured coaching taster sessions (52%) and open days (45%) are
other popular initiatives.
- Only 1 in 3 clubs are working with a County Golf Partnership or running
an induction programme.
•
Working with a County Golf Partnership (CGP) can be an effective way for
clubs to increase their number of members. 26% of those clubs which are
working in tandem with CGP’s report increasing their memberships, suggesting
that this yields more tangible results than offering incentives (22% have
increased) or a reduction in fees (22%).
•
88% of clubs market themselves through a website, making this the most
commonly used tool.
- Promotional material (65%), social networking (60%), links with schools
(51%) and publications (50%) are other popular methods.
- Less than a quarter of clubs have links with higher education providers or
promote themselves through local businesses.
Initiatives and Strategies - Summary
•
County Sports Partnerships (CSP’s) are a successful marketing tool for those clubs
that do use them. 35% of clubs who market through CSPs have increased their
membership over the last two years, higher than the overall average. Clubs that
have links with local facilities are also more likely than average to have increased
their membership.
•
63% of clubs are targeting adult women in an attempt to snare new members.
Comparatively, only 50% of clubs are targeting adult males.
- 57% of clubs are targeting junior girls, 55% are targeting junior boys.
- Clubs are equally targeting those who have never played golf (41%) and those
who have experience of the game (39%).
- Relatively few clubs are targeting friends or relatives of members (37%) or
family groups (31%).
•
The majority of clubs want help from England Golf in recruiting new members (63%)
and accessing funding (59%).
- A good number of clubs would also be interested in help retaining existing
members, developing links with schools and the community and in help with
marketing and communications.
Only 9% of clubs say that they need no assistance from England Golf.
•
What initiatives are clubs using to attract new members?
72%
Membership offers/incentives
52%
Structured coaching taster sessions
45%
Open Days
35%
Reduction in fees
Induction Programme
34%
Working with County Golf Partnership
33%
Other
10%
None
10%
0%
Base: 701
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
Membership initiatives and their effect on overall membership change in last
two years
% of those clubs which offer each type of membership whose membership total
has…
Increased
100%
90%
23%
19%
21%
Decreased
20%
Unchanged
20%
22%
17%
41%
80%
70%
60%
50%
51%
55%
54%
56%
58%
57%
62%
40%
49%
30%
20%
26%
26%
25%
10%
24%
22%
22%
22%
10%
0%
Other
(73)
Structured coaching
taster sessions
(362)
Membership offers
/incentives
(495)
Reduction
in fees
(246)
How do clubs market themselves?
88%
Website
65%
Promotional material
60%
Social networking (e.g. Facebook)
Links with schools
51%
Publications
50%
Links with local facilities
26%
Links with community groups
25%
County Sports Partnership
25%
Via local businesses
24%
22%
Links with further/higher education providers
Links with driving ranges
17%
Joint promotions with other clubs
17%
Other
12%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%
Base: 687
Marketing initiatives and their effect on overall membership change in last
two years
% of those clubs which offer each type of membership whose membership
total has…
Increased
Decreased
Unchanged
100%
90%
20%
21%
22%
25%
22%
20%
20%
51%
51%
49%
53%
54%
55%
27%
26%
26%
25%
24%
20%
23%
19%
21%
80%
70%
60%
46%
50%
52%
56%
24%
24%
55%
62%
22%
20%
60%
40%
30%
20%
35%
28%
25%
10%
0%
County Sports Partnership
(168)
Via local businesses
(164)
Social networking (e.g.
Facebook)
(409)
Promotional material
(443)
Links with schools
(344)
Links with driving ranges
(112)
19%
Target groups for membership
70%
63%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
Base: 681
57%
55%
50%
41%
39%
37%
31%
18%
7%
How England Golf Can Help
RECRUITMENT OF NEW MEMBERS
63%
ACCESSING FUNDING
59%
RETENTION OF EXISTING MEMBERS
48%
DEVELOP LINKS WITH SCHOOLS & COMMUNITY
44%
MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS
44%
COACH DEVELOPMENT & EDUCATION
27%
24%
LEGISLATION
23%
SAFEGUARDING (CHILD PROTECTION)
21%
STAFF AND VOLUNTEER TRAINING AND…
16%
WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PGA…
BUSINESS PLANNING
15%
CLUB OPERATIONS
14%
EQUALITY & DIVERSITY
12%
RECRUITING VOLUNTEERS
12%
9%
NO ASSISTANCE REQUIRED
9%
CLUBHOUSE/ FACILITY ACCESSIBILITY
5%
OTHER
0%
Base: (637)
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
Joining
Joining - Summary
•
More than a third of clubs charge joining fees for new adult members. Only 6% of clubs charge such fees for
juniors.
•
The research suggests that joining fees provide a deterrent to new members, particularly adult males. 23%
of clubs without a joining fee have increased their number of adult male members over the last two years
compared to 17% of those with a joining fee.
•
Joining fees for clubs that have increased members in the last two years also tend to be lower than those
who have suffered a decrease in membership numbers.
•
36% of clubs ask prospective new adult members to fill out a written application. 24% require an interview
whilst the same proportion ask that members are proposed by an existing member.
•
For junior members, clubs tend to rely more heavily on written applications (67%) whilst also making greater
use of interviews (37%) and proposals (33%). Having a formal process in place for accepting new members
can potentially present a problem for juniors who may not know an existing member or may be intimidated
by the prospect of a formal interview.
Only 19% of clubs requesting that juniors be proposed and 17% of those wanting an interview have
increased their overall membership total in the last two years. 32% of those taking other measures
have increased their membership. Similarly only 16% of those who interview adults and 17% who
require proposals have increased membership.
•
Only a minority of clubs charge transition fees from junior to adult membership.
Do you have joining fees for..?
Average
Amount
100%
90%
80%
70%
63%
65%
60%
94%
94%
50%
40%
30%
20%
37%
35%
10%
6%
6%
Junior
Boys
(635)
Junior
Girls
(635)
0%
Adult
Men
(684)
Adult
Women
(669)
Yes
No
Adult Males
(238)
£931
Adult
Females
(222)
£935
Junior Boys
(36)
£137
Junior Girls
(35)
£126
The impact of joining fees
•
Among both sexes, the joining fee makes a serious difference to the likelihood of a golf club
having increased its adult male membership in the last two years.
•
23% of clubs without a joining fee have increased their adult male membership in the last two
years compared to just 17% of clubs with a joining fee.
•
Among women too, clubs with a joining fee are less likely to have increased their number of
adult female members in the last two years (17%) than those without a joining fee (23%).
•
Among juniors meanwhile the impact of joining fees is even more pronounced. The majority
(94%) do not charge joining fees, however those that do are significantly less likely to have
increased their number of either junior boy (4%) or junior girl (3%) members. Joining fees appear
to put parents off, perhaps understanding that other commitments and the ever changing
passions of young people mean that juniors often flit in and out of clubs and that therefore a
joining fee potentially represents wasted money.
•
The average joining fee of clubs which have experienced an increase in adult male membership
is £814 or £116 less than the overall average joining fee of £930. Women were less affected by
the amount of the joining fee as by the mere presence of any sort of joining fee.
•
As a result it appears that joining fees exert a net negative impact on membership of English golf
courses, and act as a deterrent to a majority of golfers. With joining fees rarely low enough to be
perceived simply as administration fees for new members, golf memberships appear to often be
stymied by their existence.
How are members accepted to clubs?
FULL ADULT MEMBERS
Other, 17%
Proof of
Handicap, 14%
Written
Application,
70%
Interview, 46%
JUNIOR MEMBERS
Other, 20%
Interview, 37%
Proof of
Handicap, 5%
Proposed, 46%
Written
Application,
67%
Base: Adult members (689), Junior members (660)
Proposed, 33%
Affect of measures used to accept new members on membership
totals
% of clubs who use
each criteria to accept
adult members who
have increased
membership in the last
2 years.
% of clubs who use
each criteria to accept
junior members who
have increased
membership in the last
2 years.
Interview
Interview
33%
15%
16%
17%
19%
Proposed
Written
Application
Proof of
Handicap
Other
32%
17%
19%
10%
22%
Proposed
Written
Application
Proof of
Handicap
Other
Transition fees
Yes
No
32%
89%
68%
11%
ENTRY FEES FOR
TRANSITION FROM JUNIOR
TO ADULT
Base: (682)
ARE ENTRY FEES
STAGGERED?
Base: (71)
Facilities and Services
Facilities and Services - Summary
•
95% of golf clubs have a bar whilst the majority also have a restaurant (78%) and a function
room (72%). 26% of clubs now have a coffee shop.
- The small minority of clubs that have children’s play areas, and the quarter that have
coffee shops are more likely to have increased their number of members in the last two
years than clubs that do not have such facilities.
•
Clubs communicate much more regularly with their members than with visitors. Only three
quarters of clubs record contact information for visitors, whilst only four out of five of those who
do then use the details.
•
53% of clubs conduct an exit survey with golfers who allow their membership to lapse.
•
Stableford and medal competitions are the bread and butter types of competition organised by
clubs. More than 99% of all clubs run such competitions.
- Better ball is popular (93%) as is Texas Scramble (85%). Only 45% of clubs run shorter
format competitions, and this is perhaps an area where clubs could look to do more.
•
93% of clubs allow juniors to compete in adult competitions, with three quarters of those that do
requiring juniors to have a certain handicap. The average handicap asked for is 22 for boys and
32 for girls.
Facilities and Services - Summary
•
93% of clubs in total employ a secretary in some form. However only 60% of clubs
employ a full time secretary.
•
Clubs have an average of 24 volunteers, the majority of which serve on the club
committee. An average of three volunteers service the junior section.
•
The majority of volunteers are male (69%), and are aged over 55.
•
85% of clubs have one or more junior organisers. However, 86% of these clubs do
not deploy a separate organiser for girls.
Around two thirds of clubs have at least one child welfare officer. However, 86% of
the clubs who do have a junior organiser do not employ a separate member of staff
for girls.
- Clubs which do deploy a junior organiser are significantly more likely to have
increased their number of members in the last two years.
•
•
-
93% of golf courses accept green fees, with the majority charging variable rates.
For 40% of clubs, the proportion of revenue accounted for by green fees has been
driven down over the last two years, a result perhaps of the increased availability of
reduced green fees online as well as the impact of golfers leaving the sport
altogether.
Group Coaching
% offering group coaching to…
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
87%
76%
62%
87%
84%
84%
71%
62%
Base: Adult males (members) – 557, Adult Females (members) – 590, Adult males (non-members) – 514,
Adult females (non-members) – 541, Junior boys (members) -652, Junior Girls (members) – 639, Junior
boys (non-members) – 607, Junior Girls (non-members) - 604
Golf Club Facilities
BAR
95%
RESTAURANT
78%
FUNCTION ROOM
72%
COFFEE SHOP
26%
11%
OTHER
9%
GYM/HEALTH/SPA/OTHER SPORT
CHILDREN'S PLAY AREA
3%
NONE OF THESE
2%
0%
Base: 699
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
Club Facilities
% of clubs which
have each facility
% of clubs with
each facility to
have increased
membership in
last two years
% of clubs with
each facility to
have decreased
membership in
last two years
% of clubs with
each facility to
have unchanged
membership in
last two years
Bar
95%
21%
55%
24%
Restaurant
78%
22%
53%
24%
Function Room
72%
23%
55%
22%
Coffee shop
26%
31%
45%
24%
Other
11%
31%
49%
20%
Gym/Health/Spa/
Other Sport
9%
24%
49%
27%
Children’s play area
3%
42%
32%
26%
Collection and Use of Contact Details
Collect
100%
Use
98%
80%
100%
75%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
Members
Base: COLLECT CONTACT DETAILS
Members (701), Visitors (649)
Visitors
Base: USE CONTACT DETAILS
Members (694), Visitors (480)
% of clubs which conduct an exit survey
No
47%
Base: 693
Yes
53%
Types of competition organised
100%
Stableford
99%
Medal
93%
Better ball
85%
Texas Scramble
84%
Junior
Shorter formats
Other
45%
25%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Base: (699)
• An average of 73% of
members have taken part
in at least 3 competitions
in the last year.
Junior Competitions
Yes
No
7%
25%
93%
75%
CAN JUNIORS PLAY IN
ADULT
COMPETITIONS?
Base: (679)
DO JUNIORS NEED A
CERTAIN HANDICAP
TO PLAY IN ADULT
COMPETITIONS
Base: (624)
• The average
handicap required
for junior boys to
compete in adult
competitions is 22
• The average
handicap required
for junior girls to
compete in adult
competitions is 32
Staff Resources
Do you employ a
secretary?
Coaching Staff
59%
Yes, Full Time
22%
Yes, Honorary
2
PGA Professional Level 3 or ASQ Level 2
PGA Assistant
Professional - ASQ
Level 1 or ASQ Level 2
1
11%
Yes, Part Time
1
Other
7%
No
0
0%
20%
Base: (700)
40%
60%
1
1
2
2
N.B: There are a further 1,200 volunteers in England
who have qualified as Level 1 Coaches (Source: The
Professional Golfers’ Association)
Volunteer Breakdown
25
20
15
24
10
5
0
Base: (672)
16
9
9
7
5
3
Volunteers
AVERAGE
NUMBER OF
VOLUNTEERS PER
CLUB
Male
10
65+ yrs
55-64 yrs
Female
45-54 yrs
9
35-44 yrs
30-34 yrs
26-29 yrs
8
20-25 yrs
6
17
0-15 yrs
3
1
1
1
1
VOLUNTEER GENDER
Base: (586)
16-19 yrs
VOLUNTEER AGE
Other Staff
Yes. One
Yes. More than one
15%
35%
26%
6%
58%
CHILD WELFARE
OFFICER
Base: (683)
59%
JUNIOR ORGANISER
Base: (692)
No
• 86% of clubs
overall do not
employ a
separate junior
girls organiser
Juniors
• Clubs are less likely to have increased their number of junior boy and
junior girl members in the last two years if they do not employ at least one
junior organiser.
- Clubs with more than one junior organiser were 13 percentage points
more likely to have increased their number of junior members than
those without a junior organiser.
- Clubs with a single junior organiser were 8 percentage points more
likely to have increased their number of junior members than those
without a junior organiser.
• In total 93% of clubs which have increased their number of junior
members have at least one junior organiser.
• Only 14% of clubs which charge joining fees for junior boys have
increased the number of junior boy members compared to an overall
average of 22% which have increased their number of junior boy
members. Joining fees do however exert less of an impact on junior girls.
Green Fees
Do you accept green
fees?
No
7%
71%
Yes, variable
22%
Yes, flat rate
0%
20%
40%
60%
Base: (447)
80%
• Green fees account for an
average of 18% of
revenue with 24% of
clubs saying that green
fees account for a greater
proportion of revenue
than in 2012.
• 40% say that the
proportion of revenue
accounted for by green
fees has decreased
• 36% say that it is
unchanged
Verbatim Responses
What Could England Golf do to grow the game in England?
Greater media visibility
9%
Equal VAT between members' and…
9%
Countering the image of golf as an "elitist"…
8%
More communication with clubs
8%
Focus on regular golfers rather than elite…
6%
More direct funding for clubs
6%
Focusing on juniors/reducing fees for juniors
5%
Greater collaboration with other bodies
5%
Greater transparency on how affiliation fee is…
5%
Encouraging clubs to stop offering heavily…
4%
Target communities/schools
4%
More funding for new golfers
4%
Simplify the handicap system
4%
Encourage greater inter club collaboration
3%
0% 1% 2% 3% 4% 5% 6% 7% 8% 9% 10%
How England Golf can Grow the Game in England?
MUCH more effort at
levelling VAT minefield. Why
should the clubs providing
golf for the masses pay
most tax and those
providing exclusive golf for
the wealthy pay lowest tax?
Every member pays a fee annually to
England Golf and the County. It
would be great to have more
presence at the club - a plaque, info
on benefits. Email communications
etc.
Greater representation of Proprietary Clubs across the
board, but particularly at County Level, which is very 'Old
School' and divided. The amount of sexism amongst them
still is astonishing. Unless the 'grey haired gentlemen in
blazers' are moved aside and a fairer system of VAT
application and taxation is brought in, the future looks
bleak.
I would like them to take an active role in ridding the English game of
the VAT anomaly. The ridiculous situation at present will eventually
kill the sport in this Country. There are very few Members Clubs that
could survive with 20% of their turnover going to tax, then paying
Corporation tax and full Council Tax. The majority of new members
into the game come from Proprietary Clubs. The Proprietary Club
Members pay their Affiliation fees and deserve to be represented.
Form a closer
relationship with
Club members. My
members’
perception of
England Golf is that
it is mainly
interested in elite
players.
How England Golf can Grow the Game in England?
The membership model
enjoyed by so many clubs in
the past is extremely fragile.
Clubs need to evolve to
survive. EG needs to get this
message to clubs and help
them through such
evolution.
Golf needs to be more
visible in the media. No
tournaments on terrestrial
TV results in little or no
interest from the younger
generation.
Promote Golf as sport in schools and concentrate more on
Club golf, not elite golf. You should follow the example of
both the Scots and the Welsh in this regard. You need to
communicate better to club members exactly what you do
for their annual subscription fees they have to pay whether
they wish to or not. The majority of Clubs and their members
see no benefit from either the County or National Unions.
1) Create a system for Golf
clubs to interact and seek
advise from other clubs 2)
Best practice information emailed monthly 3)
Templates for Marketing,
administration etc.
Make it a hotter nationwide
topic and advertise the
health benefits. Continue to
show that it is a mixed
gender sport and that it is
not elitist.
How England Golf can Grow the Game in England?
Present recruitment
initiatives appear to be
working, particularly via
CGP's. Maintain funding.
Help with costing, advertising
and encouraging adults and
juniors to play golf. Make it a
sport to engage in at school.
I would like to see England Golf buy some golf courses
around the Country for Juniors only. Not necessarily centres
of excellence - just Juniors who want to play golf. It would
help develop their golfing and social ability. During the week
the courses could be sold to Societies or take Green Fees
and/or be used for Schools, the PGA for tournaments etc.
Do more work to help willing volunteers to get involved
and access relevant information. Ideally working closer
with the PGA to provide regular level 1 coaching courses
as I personally have been trying for many years to get
on one of these courses and have still had no joy.
I think the current thinking
is very good, I am
delighted to see real
proposals with smart goals
on how to grow the game
and I enjoyed the national
road shows. I am however
disappointed with the way
the handicapping
authorities are working.
Taking away the I and
adding a c is not progress.
Do something to assist clubs who
actively work towards growing the
game of golf. As said earlier, our
major loss of members is to
Private Members Clubs poaching
existing golfers. Waive levies to
new golfers, provide greater
funding to assist coaching. Do
more to help and support so
called learner clubs.
How England Golf Can grow the game
•
Respondents identified a wide range of potential avenues for England Golf to grow the game and
naturally there was disagreement on key issues. For example the schism between those who feel that
discounted green fees are harming clubs who should in turn agree to keep closer watch on price, and
between those who feel that discounted green fees attract visitors and may help to address dwindling
participation in golf.
•
However, some key concerns did emerge from golf clubs’ suggestions. There was for instance,
vexation and even anger over the disparity in VAT paid by proprietary golf clubs and private member’s
clubs. Together with a perception that private member’s clubs make little effort to introduce non-golfers
to the sport, but rather poach those introduced to the game by proprietary clubs.
•
There was also much support for simplifying the handicap system, providing greater transparency on
how golfers’ affiliation fees are spent, for focusing more on the average golf club member than on elite
players, and for promoting the game more clearly to women and junior golfers.
•
Many clubs agreed on the fact that England Golf needs to improve golf’s visibility in the media and
there was also support for greater communication with clubs and also for fostering greater
communication between clubs.
•
Clubs themselves feel that an elitist image is perpetuated by some clubs, and encourage England Golf
to advertise the fact that the game is welcoming to a broader cross-section of society than is widely
thought.
Factors contributing to membership retention.
Good facilities
23%
Communication with members
13%
Price
11%
Social events
11%
Benefits/discounts (e.g. in bar, loaylty…
10%
General ethos/welcome
7%
Reciprocal arrangements
7%
Competitions
6%
Good staff
6%
Flexible memberships
5%
Group Coaching
4%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
What initiatives do you credit with helping membership retention?
Flexible membership have
stopped full members from
leaving completely.
Higher discount on bar card for
members after a period of
membership. Free four ball
voucher after a period of
membership.
Regular social events - Elvis
night, quiz night, etc. Fun
competitions Member away
breaks Additional benefits
The staff are a huge part of achieving a
high level of membership retention. We
have a very knowledgeable and friendly
team. Our Green keeping staff work on
keeping the course immaculate and most
of all playable through the winter
periods. We haven't shut once over the
damp spell, with all greens and tees in
play.
Buddy system to hand
hold new members
through first 3-6
months. New
members’ booklet
detailing helpful
things they may need
to know i.e. how to
enter a competition.
Club ethos is main attraction for most i.e. - total
equality of sexes in all aspects including access to
course, membership categories/fees, office holders etc. relaxed informality of clubhouse - free social
membership for immediate families of all members commitment to junior participation and development strong links to local community - mixed social golf every
Wednesday in summer ensures easy integration of new
members
What initiatives do you credit with helping membership retention?
Reduced
subscriptions age
22-30
We have tried to offer members the
'best value' in their membership
package. For example, we have included
free liability insurance, two free four-ball
vouchers. We have introduced free
membership to children under the age
of 11 if their parents / grandparents are
full members. We have a 'loyalty card'
scheme in place which entitles members
to a 10% discount on bar and catering
prices
Showing a commitment to developments
and investments for each year and by
communicating this with a published
document we call the Masterplan
Flexible membership is the
only way forward in being
able to offer the incentive to
stay even though people are
playing less.
Keeping subs
down!
Supported 70+ year olds and Junior with Purple
tees (to reduce carries) and for the Ladies too. Cut
the rough from tee to fairway in an arc at 20mm
Loyalty scheme. Members receive 1% of their subscription
back onto their levy card for each years continuous
membership. i.e. If a member has been a member for 5
years and they paid £1000 subscription in the current
year they receive 5% of £1000 (£50) back onto their levy
card halfway through that subscription year. There is no
top end limit so if someone was a member for 50 years
they would receive 50% of their sub back.
Initiatives credited with high membership retention
•
Continual investment in facilities, particularly to weatherproof courses to make playing golf possible all
year round, is credited as being the key factor underlying member retention. Having a golf course that
stays open all year round, and rarely or never resorts to winter tees and greens was seen as a boon in
terms of retaining members.
•
For many golf clubs, it was the holistic experience and offering of value for money rather than any
particular initiative that was credited.
•
As well as improving the course, clubs are also keen to offer members additional, often social, benefits.
Organising quiz nights, themed evenings and other functions has helped some clubs to retain members
who value the social aspect of their affiliation as well as the golf.
•
Offering members the chance to play other golf courses through reciprocal memberships has been
influential for a number of clubs, as it can help to entice independent golfers who are reluctant to join a
club out of fear of limiting the breadth of courses that they play.
•
Flexible memberships, or at the very least, flexibility with payment, was also noted as a key method of
retaining members who would otherwise drift from the club as a result of playing less frequently.
Intermediate memberships and other measures to promote affordability for golfers in their twenties, were
also recognised by a number of clubs as being of particular value.
•
Loyalty/reward schemes were another key method of ensuring high membership retention. This type of
carrot was felt to be more effective than the stick of joining fees, which some clubs hope will make golfers
who do not want to consider this fee “lost” reconsider their decision to allow their membership to lapse.
What marketing initiatives have been particularly successful?
Reciprocal arrangements have
proved useful in influencing the
nomadic golfer as a number of
regular green fee payers have
joined and the arrangement has
been a deciding factor.
Last year we dropped the
membership fees for the age
groups 18-22 23-26 27-29
brought them up in stages and
this year we have extended it
to 30-32.We have also tried 15
months for the price of 12.
The introduction of a lifestyle
membership has been very
helpful, plus £10 Fridays where
members may bring a guest for
£10 including a meal.
By building up a customer database over the last 5 years we now
have contact with over 2000 visitors in addition to our 630
members. We use email communication to keep them up to date
with offers on off peak golf, coffee mornings and
competitions/events and we fill these with ease. We also target
members who have special birthdays, inviting them to use the
clubhouse for parties and this has increased our function catering
significantly. They would receive 50% of their sub back.
We have been selling
Associate memberships
that allow a member to
pay a reduced sub but
then pay a green fee
every time they play. It is
very successful and the
way forward.
Running a series of Open
Evenings when potential
members can turn up to have a
look around the club and speak
to some existing members.
These have been run over the
winter to attract people looking
for a club for the following
season.
Marketing initiatives
•
Reciprocal initiatives are considered a key boon to a golf club’s marketing drive, with
many suggesting that this had influenced certain nomadic golfers to become members.
•
Promoting different types of membership, for example flexible memberships or
intermediate packages have proved successful for certain courses.
•
Other courses have adopted a more tangible economic approach, preferring to plug a
reduction in green fees.
•
Various methods have been used by clubs to attract the attention of non-members.
Some clubs prefer to trust to the recommendations of current members to spread word
of mouth awareness of the club, whilst others have taken more direct action through
dropping leaflets, paying for radio slots, launching online competitions, and reaching
out through social media.
•
Whatever medium clubs prefer to use, it is clear that developing a network of contacts,
either through visitor registration or through external advertising, is beneficial to
promote offers such as a membership package with additional benefits.
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