Members seem to be staying loyal to their golf clubs despite the financial uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
New figures reveal only a third of clubs surveyed were expecting to suffer more resignations during this year’s membership renewals period than a typically average year.
The ‘Gimme 5’ poll, produced by industry expert Kevin Fish at Contemporary Club Leadership, does, however, show the resignation rate estimate for 2020 currently stands at nine per cent.
That compares with six per cent during a usual cycle, indicating some clubs are still anticipating a higher drop in members this year.
But with lots of golf clubs going through their subscriptions period in April, the closure of courses and the Government lockdown could not have come at a worse time. It led some pundits to worry whether clubs might see a wholesale exodus of golfers.
These limited figures, from 148 clubs so far, appear to suggest many players are renewing their memberships regardless of the economic uncertainly that lies ahead.
Fish, who has over 20 years’ industry experience and runs his own training and consultancy business for the golf club industry, said the figures could have been “a lot worse”.
He explained: “What we don’t know is how people will view what is, in effect, a non-essential purchase in the future.
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“I have a firm belief that members will start valuing the club more – not less. As long as [members] can afford it, I think this will spark positive things in a lot of clubs.
“But let’s not beat around the bush. For those clubs who were already underperforming financially, this will take them under.”
While he added the crisis was only in the first phase, Fish said the best clubs would thrive on an “appetite for belonging” when tee sheets opened and players could finally return to the fairways.
“Our members are not just customers of our clubs, they are shareholders, owners of the business and custodians of their clubs,” he added.
“If members want their community, their town, and their children to have the same benefits they have enjoyed at the club they must do whatever it takes to see us through this period in the club’s history.
“At the very time when we are geographically separated from our extended families, the local communities that golf clubs provide are now also out of bounds.
“When we cast our minds back to the early stages of this outbreak our tee sheets were full, and our members’ behaviours were showing us how passionate they are about the game and our golf clubs.
“I firmly believe that this absence will make the heart grow fonder, and the best clubs will thrive on that appetite for belonging.”
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