Lancashire’s golf clubs see huge rise in members; Surprise fall in Durham
Lancashire’s golf clubs collectively saw an increase of more than 1,500 members in 2016, while Durham saw a surprise loss after a successful 2015.
Lancashire’s club membership rose by 1,636 in 2016 and this 4.2 percent increase was the best county performance in England.
The Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs (LUGC) launched a county development plan two years ago and after hitting all the initial targets, the emphasis will now shift to junior golf for 2017.
County secretary Phil Harvey said: “We are looking to put together a pilot scheme with half a dozen clubs to develop a model that could be used across the county.
“A two or three-day camp, for example, is a good way to introduce beginners to the sport, show them the skills needed to play and how easy it is to make new friends.
“This works well for those who already have an interest in playing the sport, or who want to add to their playing experience.
“We hope to enthuse, motivate and inspire clubs to get involved in this kind of project.
“We believe there is a variety of ways to attract juniors to the sport, whether that be through the family and friends of existing club members, working with local schools or community groups, by holding family open days or taster sessions or by using social media to promote a club’s activities.
“Often clubs rely on a single junior organiser who may drop out when their own child has outgrown junior golf, but the successful clubs have a group of people, including the PGA professional, which provides a more robust organisation.”
Meanwhile, in Durham, which saw an increase of 615 male members in 2015, there was a modest decrease of 139 in 2016.
Nearly half of the 44 clubs did report an increase, however.
Jonathan Ward, the county’s secretary, said: “A reduction of less than three per club may be a little disappointing compared to the increase in 2015, but we feel that the downward trend of the previous ten years has bottomed out.
“We feel that this is a combination of the good work clubs are doing around introducing flexible memberships to suit all and clubs better understanding their member needs in order to add value to membership.
“The development work that clubs are engaging in, supported by England Golf and Golf Foundation development officers, is also starting to pay off with more clubs adopting national recruitment and retention schemes each year.
“We have had a better winter so far than we did last year and that normally helps numbers. But overall I think we are noticing that more and more clubs are realising it can be a vicious circle out there, so if you cut down on, say, a greenkeeper, and lose some money, then your course will take a hit.
“Clubs are now thinking it might be wise to invest and we are seeing signs that there are more becoming proactive rather than reactive.”
The Wynyard Club reported the biggest increase in numbers in the county, with an extra 90 joining in 2016. Andrew Betts, head professional, said: “I think there are a number of reasons that we enjoyed the number boost. Above all we have got a good course here and top facilities to come, practice and socialise. We have just had a golf simulator put in too, to add to the experience.
“I also think that due to the fact that our golf club and clubhouse is a relaxed environment to come and socialise, it’s a nice place where you can come and bring your family, your children, and I think that helps.
“The company that owns our golf club has also invested in the course and the facilities, it has also made sure it has got the name out there to show the ongoing good work that is being done here. For those reasons we have attracted new members from other clubs in the surrounding areas.”