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. USING SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. DATA Using SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. Data GUIDELINES • We are pleased for our clients to use this data in their advertising, press releases, catalogues and newsletters. The use of our information in your marketing efforts is a legitimate and valuable application. 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