Yorkshire clubs trial reciprocal deals11th February, 2014 by Tania Longmire
Five golf clubs in Yorkshire have formed reciprocal membership deals with each other in which their members automatically join other golf clubs for free.
The arrangements involve golf clubs allowing members of neighbouring clubs to play golf, and enjoy all the other benefits of club membership, at their venues for free, in a bid to boost income at all the participating facilities. The scheme is often credited with boosting membership retention and recruitment rates, as well as secondary spend at participating clubs.
Forest Park, Cottingham and Skidby Lakes golf clubs have formed a reciprocal ‘buy one get two free’ deal in which members of any one of the three clubs automatically become members of the other two.
“It’s a very difficult world that we live in with regards to golf clubs and golf club membership,” said Forest Park club professional Mark Winterburn.
“We need to give our members more value for their money and we feel that we have signed up with two other courses that offer high standards. There are great benefits for our members and those of Cottingham and Skidby Lakes.
“It’s three courses for the price of one and it can only be a good thing for all of us.”
Members will be eligible to play in club competitions at all three courses and Winterburn added that he felt the variety of being able to compete at a trio of different courses would prove very popular.
“When it is very easy for people to go and play relatively inexpensively through two-for-one vouchers and such, this scheme is adding value to the cost of memberships,” he added.
“This sort of thing can only be the future. More and more golf clubs will sign up to the same kind of deal. We would like to involve other clubs and increase our network. We might be linked with five by this time next year.”
The link up comes just as Sandburn Hall and Cookridge Hall golf clubs, also in Yorkshire, have formed a similar deal.
Starting from April members of both clubs can play at either as part of their membership.
James Hogg, general manager of Sandburn Hall, said: “We think this could be a move that other clubs will follow. There’s no negative side to this scheme at all.
“It is on a trial basis for a year and we are easing into it gently, but we are convinced this will be a winner for our members at Sandburn Hall and those at Cookridge Hall too.”
Rob Heath, the golf manager at Sandburn, added: “Imagine on a summer’s night if you are a member of Sandburn Hall who works near Leeds, or a member of Cookridge, who works in and around York, and you can just play at the nearest of the clubs from work. That would be a great benefit already.”
Hogg said the scheme is necessary at a time when people’s disposable income was tight.
He said: “You can’t just be a golf club that says ‘here we are’ and expect people to turn up. You can’t simply take people’s money and that’s it.
“You have got to be thinking outside the norm and make sure you are adding value to the membership.
“For the third year running our membership subs will remain the same and now we are offering something extra with this reciprocal membership.
“There are players who don’t want to pay full membership but will just go from one club to the next to pick up on various deals.
“If you want to stem the flow of nomadic players and want to keep your members you have got to provide added value. Clubbing together like this is giving something more to our members.”