Pro-active approach has helped foster a growing sense of optimism around Leyland GC
Leyland GC is bucking the national trend in dwindling memberships by introducing a series of innovative initiatives.
They include a variety of flexible packages offering affordable playing and inducements for complete beginners to take up the game.
The current buoyancy around the club is in stark contrast to the despair of just a few years ago. Leyland ran into difficulties when, after funding a new clubhouse to replace the old one destroyed by fire, they faced an annual course rental increase of a mind-boggling £30,000.
“We had to batten down the hatches,” recalled chairman Norman Graham. “Our treasurer Danny Winston kept a tight rein on the finances but unfortunately it was also at the time when golf was going downhill largely due to the economic situation.
“Membership numbers started to drop. In one year we lost 100. When we were down to 500 we had to do something to reverse the problem.
“We researched other clubs as far away as Surrey and many of them told us about their flexible membership schemes which we thought were a good idea. When we asked some of our players why they were resigning, the majority said they felt that they weren’t getting value for money.
“That’s the problem we looked to address along with our age profile which was dominated by over-60s. We only had two in the 20 to 30 bracket.”
The club embarked on an ambitious plan to restore its fortunes by introducing membership categories to suit all genders.
They also targeted beginners
by offering cheaper entrance fees.
There is a 60-strong junior presence, with ten free places for girls overshadowing the national average of two per club. Two Sunday morning coaching sessions for younger members are held under the tutelage of Leyland’s long-serving PGA professional Colin Burgess.
The clubhouse dress code has also been removed and, bravely, the club has reduced the senior subsidy.
Graham explained: “We decided that they used the course more than anyone else and were already getting excellent value for money from their subscriptions. That helped us to create an intermediate category for 20 to 30-year-olds and it also meant that juniors moving up would only have to pay £25 more.”