County Union reveals impressive increase in members across its clubs
By Michael McEwan
The forty-four golf clubs that comprise the Durham County Golf Union have reported a huge collective increase in new members in 2015. A total of 615 new make members joined the union’s clubs last year, bringing the total up to 17,543. This has gone some way to making up for the significant cumulative losses suffered by the clubs in 2014, when memberships fell by a combined 1,752 on the 2013 total.
More than half of the county’s clubs reported an increase in membership figures, with the most impressive results coming from Woodham GC. The club, on the outskirts of Newton Aycliffe, just 20 miles south of Durham city centre, saw 328 members rejoin the club last year after it was briefly forced to close in 2014 before being taken over by new owners, Hall Construction.
Another Newton Aycliffe course, the council-run Oakleaf, also reported a big jump to 357 members from 150 the previous year. Likewise, Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street, George Washington, Ravensworth and South Moor, pictured left, experienced impressive upturns, too.
These numbers were revealed in the Durham County Golf Union’s annual report, which stated: “Following a large reduction of 1,752 in 2014, we are pleased to report a membership increase of 615 across the county for 2015.
“This hopefully indicates that the decline in club membership is slowing, thanks possibly to the pro-active activity of many clubs in recruiting and retaining members.”
Ron Baines-Bennett, the chairman of the County’s Development Group, also welcomed the impressive results but, in doing so, also sounded a note of caution.
“Recent figures would suggest that, in Durham at least, the drift away from golf club membership has slowed but not stopped,” he told The Northern Echo. “It is our aim to reverse the trend but clubs must recognise the crucial part they play in making memberships more attractive, flexible and available.”