Irish golf clubs have lost 26% of their members in the last 7 years
More than a quarter of all the adult members of golf clubs in the Republic of Ireland have abandoned their membership since the start of the economic downturn.
The staggering figure has been confirmed by the country’s two golf unions, the Golf Union of Ireland (GUI) and the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union (ILGU).
The country had 229,000 members in 2007, which was made up of 177,000 men and 52,000 women.
Today it has just 170,000 members in total, pushing the country back to the same level it was in 2003, made up of 130,000 men and 40,000 women. The loss of 59,000 members equates to nearly 26 percent of the country’s total, and is one of the main reasons why many Irish golf clubs have suffered financial difficulties in recent years.
Ireland has 423 clubs affiliated to the GUI, having lost 10 last year.
The situation in Ireland has got so serious that Leinster Golf, which runs the amateur game in that part of the country, where six golf clubs closed down last year, has formulated ‘Roadmap 2017’, to help golf in the province to maximise its resources and meet the challenges it faces.
Ten areas are identified, from coaching to clubs and finance to membership, in which 44 initiatives are proposed for completion over the next three years.
These include a national recruitment drive for new golfers, to make golf as fulfilling and enjoyable as possible for those already playing, to improve communications between golf’s authorities and golf clubs, and to offer struggling golf clubs advice on effective ways of recruiting new members.
The executive summary of ‘Roadmap 17’ states: ‘Golf and non-golf income for members’ clubs is diminishing, placing many of them at risk of terminal decline.’
Leinster Hills, The Glebe, Tuskar Rock, Woodlands, Bodenstown and Navan GC have all closed down in Leinster in the last year, while other clubs are in receivership.
John Roche, CEO of Confederation of Golf in Ireland said: “Really, we are about trying to create a better awareness of golf and developing programmes that focus on getting men, women and juniors to play. But it also to make sure we bring those customers, if you like, to clubs that have good governance, good business structures and good coaching programmes.”
Roche said he intends to draw on the vast wealth of information Leinster Golf gleaned from an extensive survey of 8,300 golf club members, various other stakeholders and officials from other sports.