Part II – written for MG by England Golf’s Club Support Officer for Shropshire, Hereford and Staffordshire, Mark Romasiuk
I wrote in the last issue of MG that clubs had enjoyed a surge in new membership applications. Not only that, but there were also more people paying green fees and more people now interested in golf.
With the news that gyms and swimming pools will soon be opening, we, as an industry, need to continue to thrive in a post-lockdown landscape.
The competition returns – re-opened gyms
When it comes to those golfers that have joined over the past few months, we need to start thinking ‘why?’ What are the benefits of being a golf club member? Yes, there is competition play and official handicapping; but there is more if we delve deeper. If clubs can answer this question, they will be on the way to retaining more golfers year-on-year.
Clubs must ensure new members are getting the most out of their membership.
The good news is a club can control this. The first step is simple; ask them how their membership has gone so far. Ask: how could we improve? Have you found a group to play with? Is there anything we can do to help you? This can be via a survey or through personal engagement.
How are we performing? – Member surveys
Once a club has asked for feedback, make sure someone acts on this. There is nothing worse than offering an opinion and nothing happening!
The next part in the puzzle is to demonstrate how golf benefits them in general. Show how golf can fulfil their wants and needs. If a club can do this, they will be in pole position to retain that member.
For example, did you know golf is linked to an extra five years on your life, according to Golf and Health? These messages are that will encourage people to play as much golf as they can, hopefully, at your club.
The benefits of golf to your health
We need to focus on the things people missed during lockdown.
Time out in the fresh air, time with family and working on your mental health are all areas golf can offer as an advantage; and all are linked to what we hated about lockdown! Use these messages to your club’s benefit. Try to communicate all of this before asking for the 2021 membership fee.
People who have taken up golf in the last few months or are a green fee golfer also need to be considered.
Take an interest in the casual golfer. Does your club know how many times a green fee-paying golfer has played the course? Have clubs got an option for them to become a member that would be an advantage to them? If clubs can answer these two questions, they will start to put themselves in a position to cater for the needs of the “nomadic” golfer.
Engagement and game improvement with your club pro
Golf buddies, learning and playing together
If someone continues to come to your club, they must enjoy the product provided; so why not offer them a membership that suits their lifestyle? Again, this is a case of asking that golfer what they want or need in order to join your club.
For newer golfers, is there an option for continued lessons with a PGA Pro? Is there a buddy system in place at a club for them to meet other golfers? By offering these two things clubs can create a support network for new golfers that will only encourage them to stay.
Ultimately, the retention of golfers at clubs comes down to the customer service and flexibility shown by clubs. Golf is like any other industry. Every club can offer a product of supreme quality, but if there is a poor experience to go with it, people will find somewhere else to play. If clubs can think about how they treat everyone that walks through the front door, the industry will continue to thrive.
The membership boom, initial thoughts, take a look at Part 1 of this feature that Mark wrote for us in June