Insight Update

Golf club membership on the rise together with the cost of a round

UK golf clubs have seen a sharp rise in the number of members in 2021 together with increasing waiting lists. However, the sport remains the preserve of older male members who are prepared to pay more for a round of golf in 2022, finds the annual survey of golf clubs published by accountants Hillier Hopkins.

Headline findings from the Hillier Hopkins Members and Proprietary Golf Clubs Survey 2020/21:

• 75% of golf club members are men. Ladies account for 18% of members and juniors just 7%.

• 64% of golf club members are aged 50 and over.

• 53% of golf clubs have waiting lists for new members.

• 80% of clubs will increase memberships fees in 2022, yet 77% of clubs have kept memberships fees under £1,612.

• Member green fees stand, on average, at £31 with non-member green fees at £58.00.

• 51% of golf clubs turnover more than £1m a year.

• 72% of golf clubs continue to insist on a strict dress code.

• 87% of clubs say they are prepared to change their rules and regulations to attract new and younger members.

• Flexible memberships are increasing, offered by 47% of clubs.

The annual survey of 99 golf clubs across the country is published today by accountants Hillier Hopkins in a report ‘Members and Proprietary Golf Clubs Survey 2021/21 in partnership with the UK Golf Federation and the Golf Club Secretary Newsletter.

Matt Bailey, a senior manager at accountants Hillier Hopkins, said: “2021 has been a much better year for golf clubs with 79% of members clubs and 88% of proprietary clubs reporting growth in the year. 53% of clubs report waiting lists for members compared to just 22% of clubs in 2019, the year before the pandemic.

“Clubs are however concerned that the age of membership remains stubbornly high, with almost three quarters of club members aged over 50, and with 33% of members aged over 61. All clubs continue to work hard to attract younger and greater numbers of female members.”

The survey also found:

• On average, 29,000 rounds of golf were played at clubs participating in this survey.

• PGA professionals retained by golf clubs are typically paid between £1,500 and £2,500 a month.

• Golf clubs on average employ 25 full time people.

• Clubs operate with minimal cash surpluses, with the average standing at £64,000.

Doug Poole, chief executive officer at the UK Golf Federation said: “The UK Golf Federation has supported the Hillier Hopkins Survey for the last few years as it provides current and valuable information on how golf courses and golf facilities have performed over the last year of trading.

“We all know information is king in ensuring a business can maximise on its services and bottom-line income. Even more valuable this year since we have all battled through changes in operation and closedowns due to Covid restrictions in operation. Therefore, the Hillier Hopkins Members and Proprietary Golf Clubs Survey and Report 2021/22 is perfectly timed with some excellent insights into costing levels, changes, staffing numbers and operational matters.”

Jeremy Ellwood, editor of The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, said: “The sport of golf and many golf clubs have fared considerably better over the past two years than most feared when the pandemic first struck. But clubs have had to adapt quickly to take full advantage, and further challenges and big decisions no doubt lie ahead, which is why it’s more important than ever to be as well-informed as possible.

“The Hillier Hopkins annual survey delivers vital data and information in abundance, and with respondent numbers up nearly 35% on 2020, this latest survey will prove an even more valuable resource as golf clubs seek to consolidate and steer the best possible course in 2022 and beyond.”

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