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England Golf Club Membership Survey 2018

H1 Club hack Pete Richardson takes a look at some of the key findings.

The golf industry is a funny old animal. After the glory of the Ryder Cup an amazing sporting spectacle watched by millions and millions of people highlighting all that’s great about our sport comes a major survey which shows memberships are down and golf has flatlined for years.

Every other year England Golf send out a survey which this year was completed by 426 clubs.

It is designed to provide a snapshot of membership patterns and that’s exactly what it does. And it reveals there is much to be done to drag the industry into the 21st century still.

You may not be surprised to find that the overall pattern over the last 10 years is that memberships are down while casual golf is up.

But golf remains the 5th largest participation sport in England still with 3.7 million people having played golf on an 18-hole course in the last 12 months.

And more than two million people play golf at least twice per month.

  • Here are some of the key numbers from the survey:
  • The average number of members per club is 484 – a slight increase on 460 two years ago
  • An average full adult membership is up from £857 to £901per year.
  • Only 38% of clubs have seen an increase in memberships
  • The biggest rise in memberships is men over 65!!

So, some interesting information there which seems to point to a more expensive game played by older people – and fundamentally that is the problem.

Not enough clubs are doing enough to attract young people, women and families. Despite years of talk this is still a fundamental issue holding back participation and membership of golf clubs.

More findings further add to this realisation.

Some good things are being done across the country and those clubs seeing an increase across the board and these included realising the importance of creating a welcoming environment, catering for a range of different needs, communicating regularly with members and visitors, developing facilities to broaden income streams and becoming part of the local community.

But despite the overwhelming evidence that to adapt, become more open and welcoming to more people many clubs still don’t get it.

Why would you not offer o flexible membership scheme when you look at the evidence?

Only 36% of clubs offer flexible membership schemes like PlayMoreGolf which generated 56 new memberships in just one month at East Berkshire GC.

Only 63% of golf clubs use an online booking system and only 66% say they capture data from visitors.

But perhaps most telling is that the ancillary facilities that appear to have the biggest impact on membership growth are “children’s play areas, crèche’s, coffee shops and other sports on site, including gym/health and spa facilities. 

“That said, only a very small percentage of clubs are offering these additional services”.

Welcome to 2018 golf clubs – the age of family, inclusion, technology and diversity. NOT.

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