Latest edition of biennial survey highlights a number of trends for running facilities effectively
By Chris Johnston
He secrets of successfully running a golf club and attracting members have been identified in a brand new report from England Golf.
The results of the 2016 Golf Club Membership Questionnaire have shown that 30% of clubs increased their membership this year and it highlights trends and ideas which are working.
Amongst its recommendations, it suggests creating a warm welcome, with a dedicated reception area, welcome packs, and new members’ events.
Clubs are also urged to cater for different needs by offering a range of flexible membership packages – such as junior, adult academy and trial memberships – to suit different lifestyles, something which has become a major trend over the past two years.
Regular communication with members and visitors is also recommended in order to retain as well as recruit members. England Golf’s research found that one-third of clubs are missing the opportunity to connect with visitors who could be potential members.
Making more use of the club to increase income as well as becoming an integral part of the local community has also been proven to work at various clubs across the country.
Announcing the findings, England Golf chief executive Nick Pink said: “The report gives us a snapshot of the golfing landscape and highlights ideas and solutions which clubs are using to grow their membership and which work. I hope that by sharing this information we will encourage and inspire other clubs to become even more successful.”
The biennial study was carried out by Sports Marketing Surveys INC for England Golf and is based on responses from over 600 clubs.
Richard Payne, the SMS Inc’s senior manager of sports accounts, said: “This is an insightful and challenging piece of research that has clearly demonstrated the benefits to clubs that have embraced strategies aimed to widen the appeal of the game and welcome golfers.
“In an age where consumers speak with their feet, ensuring that clubs deliver what golfers are demanding is critical to the future success of the game.”
Findings for the last two years show that the average number of club members has stayed largely the same at 460 in 2016, compared to 466 in 2014. The number of members aged 65-plus increased by 13%.
Meanwhile, the questionnaire also discovered that a quarter of golf clubs in England still don’t use social media to market themselves effectively.
Results showed that only 75% of clubs use the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote their business.
Encouragingly, that the figure is up 15% from when the last survey was conducted back in 2014, while a club website is considered the most frequently used method of marketing, with 89% of clubs using theirs on a regular basis.
Combined with the website promotions, digital media routes are the most developed promotional techniques and, of golf clubs working with other sports clubs or venues, they saw a 40% increase in membership.