Majority of clubs still not seeing growth
A new survey of golf clubs has found a sharp rise in the numbers that reported financial growth in 2013 – but more than half still saw none last year and private members’ clubs in particular are continuing to fail to recruit women and children as members.
The Hillier Hopkins LLP Golf Survey Report found that 42 percent of members’ clubs reported growth in 2013 – a rise from just 25 percent in 2011.
However, 58 percent saw no growth or made a loss.
The survey also found that just 41 percent of private members’ clubs saw their female membership rise last year, whereas the figure is 60 percent for proprietary clubs. It means that the proportion of members of golf clubs in the UK remains overwhelmingly male, with 72 percent adult men and just 17 percent adult women.
Six percent of golf clubs even stated that they restrict lady usage.
Membership in the UK is also still dominated by older people, according to the research.
Fifty-nine percent of members at private clubs are older than 50, with just 19 percent under the age of 35.
While most of the findings in this survey tally with many of the other surveys looking at golf club trends, one result that is completely at odds with England Golf’s major survey last year is the issue of joining fees. The English union found that these fees were now being used by just one third of its affiliated clubs, but the Hillier Hopkins LLP Golf Survey Report found that 64 percent of clubs charge an entrance fee – a rise of four percent in the last two years.
Other trends that the survey picked up are an increase in the number of private members’ clubs that are bringing their catering in-house and a rise in expenditure on utilities.
The survey found that 53 percent of private members’ clubs use a franchisee for their catering, a drop from 60 percent since 2011, but a figure that is far higher than proprietary clubs, of which just 11 percent use a franchisee.
It also found that the average golf club spent £18,100 on electricity, £9,900 on gas and £7,100 on water in 2013 – in each case a rise over 2012’s expenditure.
“The results reflect the efforts proprietary clubs continue to put in across the board,” said Robert Twydle of Hiller Hopkins LLP.
“In most cases we have seen further steps to maximise their income from all sources by constantly improving facilities and actively seeking new social members to boost income.
“Members’ clubs have been slower to react to the current trends in the market and will continue to fall behind if they do not accept that they are in a competitive arena.
“Overall, 2012 was a year of consolidation for most clubs and 2013 has seen some improvements. It does feel that the decline in membership that has been evident in recent years has at least halted and is now in many cases on the rebound.”