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club membership

‘We won’t have a better opportunity’: England Golf urge clubs to cash in

The governing body’s chief operating officer, Richard Flint, says clubs must not rest on their laurels in this boom

 

Golf clubs need to make the most of surging membership numbers.

Richard Flint, England Golf’s chief operating officer, urged clubs and the wider industry “not to rest on our laurels and do what we’ve always done” as he highlighted the governing body’s new membership drive.

Outlining elements of the ‘Membership: Give it a Shot’ campaign, that aims to provide clubs in the country with resources and the support of England Golf’s club support officers to maximise recruitment and retention, Flint said the huge number of players who had come into the sport as a result of the coronavirus pandemic presented an incredible chance to push the benefits of club membership.

Earlier this year, the R&A revealed the scale of golf’s pandemic surge with an extra 2.3 million golfers getting out on the course in Great Britain and Ireland last year.

More than 4.3 million players were recorded at driving ranges and the average age of golfers fell from 46 to 41.

The total number of adult golfers on a full-length course increased significantly by 2.1 million players to 5.2 million – the highest figure recorded this century.

England Golf knows that nearly a million people, or 42 per cent of regular golfers, say they are likely to join a club in the future and 55 per cent of those are under the age of 45.

It’s against this background of thriving activity that the governing body wants to cement the sport’s popularity and stress that club membership has never been more important.

Flint said: “As an industry, as golf clubs, we won’t have a better opportunity than this – in terms of that increase we’ve seen in membership.

“The audience is there. We love it. We hope they will love it. What an opportunity to keep them involved in the game.

“Our role is not to dictate or mandate what golf clubs should be doing. But if we can nudge, if we can help and hold hands if we need to, then the resources and support is there for golf clubs to really retain these members.”

The ‘Membership: Give it a Shot’ campaign focuses around four core values – equality, diversity, family and community – and a new suite of consumer and club-focused content is available to assist clubs looking to recruit new members and retain existing ones.

It aims to attract players who are actively playing, whether that’s at driving ranges, par 3 courses, or as visitors, and the call to action falls around three key messages: that play is flexible, clubs are sociable and golf is affordable.

Flint added: “The opportunity is there for golf clubs. We’ve been given a chance in terms of the boost within participation and the boost in membership numbers.

“Let’s not rest on our laurels and continue to do what we’ve always done. Let’s make sure we look after those who have experienced the sport for the first time [within the last year].

“There’s a reason why they have come into golf and are wanting to experience it. Let’s give them the best opportunity possible, and the best experience possible, for them to continue as a regular golfer or as a club member.

“For those that have chosen club membership, from a golf club’s point of view, let’s really look after them and let’s celebrate all the benefits that come with golf club membership. Let’s push on and really benefit from this.

“We’re really excited about this membership campaign. There are some really strong messages in there and resources and help we can give to golf clubs.”

To find out more about the ‘Membership: Give it a Shot’ campaign, visit England Golf’s website.

What do you think? Is the future bright for golf club membership or will participation wane as we enter the post-pandemic future? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.

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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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