The way golf clubs market themselves ‘is woeful and plays to gender stereotypes’

Emma Williams
By Emma Williams July 31, 2014 05:10

The way golf clubs market themselves ‘is woeful and plays to gender stereotypes’

The way golf clubs market themselves is poor and often plays to gender stereotypes, two new surveys have found.

The first study, by Compare Membership, found that the majority of golf clubs fail to even reveal what memberships they offer on their own websites.

The second, by PH Media Group, reveals that golf clubs predominantly market themselves using male actors to showcase their venues. Some may not even consciously realise just how male biased they are.

Compare Membership surveyed 634 UK golf clubs’ websites and found that 52 percent of them offer no information on what memberships their clubs offer. Just over a quarter of these clubs only offer either an email address or a phone number for potential members to contact the club about membership, even though the majority of UK golf clubs are desperate for new members.

Just 37 percent of all clubs provide full information on what memberships they offer, including prices, and just 14 percent provide online application forms.

The same company surveyed hundreds of ‘nomadic’ golfers (people who are not members of a club but play golf regularly) and asked how they would find information on joining a golf club – 88 percent said they would look online.

Company spokesman, and PGA professional at Sickleholme Golf Cub, Simon Housley, said: “The resort and pay and play courses provide easy to find information on membership, but many of the private courses do not. I think this shows a clear difference in approaches between a commercial golfing venue and a private members’ club.


“In this modern age where everyone seems to own a laptop, tablet or smartphone it is essential for golf clubs to provide as much information online as possible regarding what memberships they offer and how much it costs.

“It is no longer good enough for clubs to assume that people will take the time to call or email the club for information. People have busy lives and are used to being able to source information at the touch of a button, and not having to phone a club whose manager might be out of the office. These are potential new members that might just go elsewhere because they can’t find the information they are after.”

Simon added that many golfers join a new club every year since joining fees were abolished for most venues, but they will not go to clubs that fail to market their membership offerings online.

“These people offer a great opportunity for golf clubs to boost their membership income, but only if they provide easy to find information,” he said.

“I know how busy club managers are working just to keep clubs running and keeping existing members happy, but I do feel little things like keeping their websites updated and providing good and easy to find information for potential new members is a must for golf clubs to survive.”

Image by Edward Liu.

Image by Edward Liu.


His company also asked nomadic golfers why they have not joined a club and found that 68 percent said they do not play enough to warrant being a member, even though, on average, they play 30 times a year. More than a third also said they would consider joining a club if they could pay their subscriptions in monthly instalments.

“This highlights the need for clubs to look at flexible membership packages and show their membership details,” added Simon.

Meanwhile, PH Media Group found that when sports’ clubs brand themselves using a voiceover, the ‘typical profile’ of the speaker is male and aged 45 to 55.

“The fact the most popular voice used in sports’ marketing is male will come as no surprise, given traditional perceptions of the industry,” said Dan Lafferty, a director at PH Media Group.

“But that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be the best fit across the board and companies should use a voice which best reflects their products, customer base and service proposition.

“A feminine voice might often be appropriate to reflect a changing customer base and an increased prevalence of women in sports’ broadcasting. The feminine voice can be equally authoritative but is also perceived as soothing and welcoming.”

Emma Williams
By Emma Williams July 31, 2014 05:10
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4 Comments

  1. PG July 31, 16:00

    Club Managers aren’t as stupid as you make out. Has it occurred to you that there might be a reason why we don’t put ALL the info ref membership on the club website?
    Our club does not want a decision made on price alone. We want to talk to a prospective member about our club, show them how friendly and enthusiastic we are and create a positive early impression. Without any contact info we can never follow up on interest shown.
    Give them enough info to wet the appetite and encourage an enquiry, then the staff, club and environment will close the deal.
    We must be doing something right we are showing good gains in membership numbers which are currently at an all time high.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Tim Roebuck July 31, 22:02

    I run a small marketing consultancy practice for golf clubs across the UK. The work undertaken remains firmly within the 4 walls of the club and all proactive communication & business development is 100% backed & importantly perceived to be the voice of the club itself.

    I’ve demonstrable evidence that even a proactive – well versed twitter account can have a massive impact on the attractiveness & associational bond of clubs & it’s members.

    I’m happy to engage with new clubs throughout the UK if they are interested in taking the next steps forward to marketing the club in 2014 &amp beyond.

    Many Thanks

    Reply to this comment
  3. Jo Maes August 10, 09:02

    To PG … it starts with a price, unfortunately. You might have the best club with the best facilities but if it is out of reach for the person looking … it’s a wast of time for both sides.

    I am the MD for GolfSwitch/OpenTee and it is still shocking to see how few courses allow for online bookings. You spend money on a website (some do), a golfer likes what he sees … why can he not book there and then ? It’s al about ‘personal contact’ … well, he’s (she’s) booked so now you can get in touch and provide some extra service.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Simonj007 August 12, 14:25

    The sad truth is…

    The golf course who is the best at “marketing” makes the most money, not the best golf course.

    Look at all the nice golf courses that have closed in the last 10 years… Odds are you can name a few… It wasn’t because they weren’t a good golf course, it’s because their marketing wasn’t effective enough to generate the members, players, tournaments, outings, banquets, and revenue building activities to keep the doors open.

    As an online marketer, I’m more than happy to set aside some time to any club/resort, personally. And during that time, I’ll evaluate your golf course and membership offer, and work with you collaboratively to create an immediately actionable plan to increase membership and profits.

    There is no charge for this and there’s no catch.

    Happy to help.

    Reply to this comment
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