Why is it time for members to help clubs


Inflation is rising, prices are continuing to rise, but the crisis talk has been very much one way. So industry experts say it’s time for clubs to reach out to their members


Do members need to share the financial pain of golf club costs to help them weather the economic downturn?

That was the question for another Insights Podcast of the Golf Club Directors Association as a panel of experts looked at how to negotiate the sport through the upcoming challenging golf club membership renewal season.

Host Leighton Walker was joined by GCMA CEO Tom Brock, Managing Director of Inicio Solutions Simon Jones, PlayMoreGolf Relationship Manager Brad Shard and Fairway Credit Sales and Support Manager Nigel Stewart to look at membership pricing.

The quartet looked at tools clubs could use to reduce pressure amid a backdrop of high inflation and pressure on entertainment budgets.

“This now leaves club and golf club managers with some very difficult planning ahead in terms of what they do with their business modeling and, in particular, membership pricing,” Brock said.

“There are a lot of considerations. Do you increase your prices in line with inflation and to keep up with costs of living and utility bills at golf clubs and risk higher-than-expected, higher-than-planned attrition rates, or do you keep your prices – down – and hope for a rise from planned retention but Then you risk not being able to cover your costs?”

Walker said the club’s relationship with its members was key and asked the committee if they needed them to “share the pain”.

“It’s very nice that the members want to keep their subs low, but maybe in these times, they should get involved and do their little part as well?”

“Unless you’re hiding under a rock,” Jones said, “we all know the state of the economy. Hide [that] Who member at this point is pointless and is actually a bit disingenuous really.

“You must be forthright and careful thought must be given to the communications you send to your members, particularly in this notice of renewal.”

He added: “We have to talk a little bit about the economic situation because, let’s face it, a 10 per cent increase in subscription is actually a real drop for the team in fees. That puts the club at risk.”

“You have to engage with a member on that front. Every club is different. This is a unique decision for everyone, whether it comes through AGM or committee meetings or whether it comes out to members before the renewal letter, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise in this regard.”

Brock said there may be a difference in the way these questions are handled depending on whether the club is a private or proprietary member.

“If it’s a private members golf club, where the member is a true shareholder in that club, then having those conversations and saying ‘this is your club, we need your support to help us through these times and continue to provide the service that we want to provide you as a member,’ is probably a conversation.” Easier than running it in a proprietary environment where there is a single stakeholder or group of stakeholders looking to make profits from the process and continue to keep an income for themselves.

“Depending on the audience, and obviously what kind of golf club you are, this conversation should take a slightly different tone.”

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  • This article also appears in GCMA’s new monthly Insights newsletter which is full of expert opinions on club management matters. Sign up for Insights for free here.

How does your club deal with the cost of living crisis? Have your golf club membership costs skyrocketed? Are you thinking of leaving your membership or will you stay? Connect with a tweet.

Read more about golf club membership costs and the cost-of-living crisis…


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