If you’re actively seeking younger members, doesn’t it make sense to consider their life choices and adjust your packages accordingly? GCMA Communications Manager Mike Hyde thinks so.
As I waited to see the manager of my club, in my mind I ran through what seemed a reasonable request. I had happily been a member of the club for two years, and I loved it. The course was superbly designed and wonderfully maintained. I had made some great friends. But as I was expecting my first child, I couldn’t justify the cost of a full membership.
I joined the club when I was 28, taking advantage of a discounted joining fee, and a substantially reduced yearly sub. Both typical gestures from clubs that indicate they are looking to expand their younger membership. I was impressed by their apparently progressive outlook.
Surely if they were actively pursuing my demographic, they had thought through the lifestyle choices I’d be likely to be making?
I was told that, while I wasn’t the first to have asked, the manager’s hands were tied by the club constitution, which didn’t allow for a flexible membership category.
I could put my membership on hold and, if I returned within three years, I wouldn’t have to pay another joining fee. Not much of a choice. That was two years ago, and I’m now happily a member at another club, with a flexible membership scheme that caters for my needs. I pay under £150 a year, which gives me between five and 15 rounds, depending on when I play.
There’s a crèche onsite, a playgroup and a hairdressers and there’s no dress code for the bar and restaurant. Not only are my children welcome, they are actively encouraged to visit.
When the time comes for me to return to full membership, where am I more likely to stay – my pre- kids club, which I can’t visit for a drink after taking the kids to the swimming pool next door without remembering to pack some chinos? Or the course where the owner knows my children’s names, and my cost per round averages about £25? No contest.
My favourite example is a well thought of club, to which I submitted an enquiry for membership after being surprised to find out they were actively seeking under 35s.
I especially liked the sound of the discounted rates, given the fees were notoriously steep. Having applied on the website, the first warning sign was when I was asked to supply a postal address to which the club would send the membership pack – hardly a sign of progressive attitudes. While discounted by 25%, the joining fee was still more than I spent on my last car. The annual sub would have required a new credit card.
Clubs are entitled to their own business models, but it suggests they aren’t as keen on diversifying their membership as it seems.
As a keen golfer with two young children, a busy job, and no time to commit to a ‘proper’ membership, I’m hardly unique.
I’m buoyed by the number of clubs who seem to be actively recruiting people like me. But unless others have thought through their offering, they are simply paying lip service to the idea of looking to recruit younger members.
Disagree with Mike? Email [email protected] to let us know.
By Mike Hyde