Manchester Metropolitan University

The secrets of retaining golf club members

England Golf report published with University research

The secrets of keeping golf club members happy, contented and loyal are revealed in new report commissioned by England Golf: Valuing Your Customers.  

The findings, from Manchester Metropolitan University, will be used to help golf clubs strengthen their business by retaining their members. 

They’ll be shared by England Golf’s club support network, together with a specially produced video and other resources which will help clubs identify and provide the golfing experience their members want.

The report makes the point that it costs less to retain a member than to attract a new one and it highlights six ways to keep members happy: 

Options

It also offers ideas for clubs to consider which will customise their approach to members. These could include becoming a female-friendly club or offering alternative formats which could be welcomed by beginners, older players and those who are short of time. 

Report author Dr Chris Mackintosh, Senior Lecturer in Sports Management at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “Members are the lifeblood of any club and retention really matters. The evidence says that if golf clubs can be more diverse, more open and embrace a friendly culture more people will stay in the game and we will grow the sport.”

Abbie Lench, England Golf’s Head of Club Support, added: “We want to show clubs how to understand and to value their customers and build a healthy base of loyal members.” 

She added: “There’s another great benefit because we find that clubs which have an excellent relationship with existing members, will improve their reputation and find it easier to recruit new players.” 

England Golf is now working in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan on a three-year research project to better understand volunteers in clubs and the critical role they play in retention. 

Case study

Kettering Golf Club in Northamptonshire is where Charley Hull learned her golf and is now an honorary member.  It recognised its strength was as a members’ club and made this a priority, offering relaxed enjoyment and companionship.

The club has worked on retention programmes with David Davis, the England Golf Club Support Officer in Northamptonshire, and they’ve been so successful that they remain financially secure, have enhanced their reputation and grown their membership by over 8% in two years, lowering the overall age of the membership in the process. 

Club Chairman Graham Althorpe commented: “New members are important, but for us, our best recruiting sergeant is retaining existing members who are pleased with and want to be part of the whole Kettering Golf Club experience.” 

Case study 

Northamptonshire County Golf Club has also worked with David Davis and, after considering the demographic of its ageing membership, has put in place a long-term strategy for retention and recruitment. This has included halving the joining fee which helped to increase membership by almost 6% from 2015-2017. 

Club Manager Elaine McBride commented: “We ensure that we are constantly being proactive by engaging with existing members and increasing our PR presence in the local golfing community.

“For example, we can now analyse members’ bar spending and this means we can engage with members who have not have used the facilities recently. It’s a good way to gain a better understanding of factors that impact on people visiting and using the club.” 

The new retention guidance has been produced as part of England Golf’s strategy, Growing the Game of Golf in England, which has the customer at its heart. 

Visit www.englandgolf.org/retention to read the research findings.

 

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