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From the Clubhouse: Do visitors get a raw deal at clubs?

An archive letter, published in The Times a century ago, revealed the barriers some club stalwarts put down to hinder paying guests. Have things changed for non-members?
 

What’s the visitor experience like when you go to another club? Are the members welcoming, do the staff go out of their way to help, or do you get the distinct sense some would rather you weren’t there?

As anyone who’s well-travelled will know, the unique nature of clubs can make an experience unforgettable, lamenting, but usually never boring.

We were drawn to an archive letter in The Times, dating back a century, which chastised seaside clubs for the attention visitors were accorded.

“In most instances visitors are treated abominably”, wrote the ‘low handicap’ author. “Members speak of them with disrespect, look at them with arrogance in the dining-room” and “sit on the newspapers in the smoking-room rather than allow them to read them”.

It got us thinking, how does that experience for golf club visitors compare with now?

So in this week’s From the Clubhouse, a podcast from National Club Golfer, Steve Carroll is joined by Hannah Holden and Tom Irwin to look back at how things were for this particular golfer and discuss whether or not golf club visitors are still getting second-class treatment when they go to play an unfamiliar course.

The team also dive into the whole array of golf club membership options, including points and flexible golf membership categories. Dress codes inevitably make a brief appearance and we look ahead to see how the cost-of-living crisis will affect all the gains made during the Covid pandemic.

As always, enjoy.

What do you think? Are golf club visitors still getting the thin end of the wedge at some clubs, or is the customer king? Let us know by tweeting us.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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