Debate: Are car park members good or bad for clubs?

Should car park members be discouraged? Or is it fine to turn up and play then get straight back into your car? James Savage and Dan Murphy debate the issue.

JS – If you pay substantial fees to be a member of a golf club, you should be able to play and conduct yourself in whatever way you choose. You may not get on with any of the other members, you may not have enough spare time to attend evening events or stay for lunch after a round. Surely the main purpose of being a member of a golf club is play golf? 

DM – I thought the whole point of being part of a club was to share your interest with like-minded people. I think members should be aware that these are challenging times for golf clubs. If they can help in a small way by having a drink afterwards or buying a bottle of water in the pro shop then great – every little helps.

JS – Some people are simply less sociable than others. It shouldn’t be a problem. The member who turns up plays his round and goes home is still giving money to the club and doesn’t cause anyone any problems. Is having a drink afterwards really going to make that much difference? 
It’s up to the club to make them welcome and encourage them to get involved DM – I think the healthiest clubs are those with thriving, active memberships who enter plenty of competitions and generally understand that they can contribute in a positive way. I don’t think everyone has to prop up the bar three evenings a week but the fact is that clubhouses and pro shops are expensive facilities to run and are intrinsically part of our golf clubs.

JS – Providing a club still has a section of active and engaged members, there shouldn’t be a problem. The last thing a club should do is discourage those members who are less keen to get involved. If they are treated like an outsider and completely ignored just because they didn’t attend the centenary dinner, they may look to find a different club next season. If a club doesn’t want car park members then turn them away at the outset.

DM – Perhaps that should be part of the application process?! I take the point that members should be welcome to use the facilities as they please (within the rules). As far as new members go, it’s up to the club to make them welcome and encourage them to get as involved as they can. I think a deeper problem is that golf clubs used to be institutions and once you joined that was you for life. Now people are treating it as they would a gym. They often want to be in and out as quickly as possible. It just isn’t as acceptable as it once was for the working man to spend the whole of Saturday at the golf club. I guess the result is facilities that are often out of tune with the demands of many of the members.

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