Get into Golf
Get into Golf is a programme designed to not only to support Golf Clubs in recruiting new members and in turn increase their membership figures and revenue but also to make golf more accessible to the wider audience. There are 3 main strands to CGI’s Get into Golf Programmes:
- Internal and external communication
- Taster sessions/ awareness days
- Get into Golf programme
- Combination of lessons with a PGA Professional and Volunteer activities to help integrate the participants into the Golf Club
- Follow on membership and activities
- Offering of a suitable staged membership offer
- Regular playing opportunities
In 2015, Golf Clubs running Get into Golf had a great deal of success with an average conversion rate from the programme into membership being at 60%. However, it is imperative for Clubs to recognise that the Get into Golf programmes do not act as a “quick fix” to gaining new members or indeed revenue and the programme requires a great deal of work in order to build a sustainable recruitment and retention pathway for members.
Our team have recognised that in order to enthuse golf clubs and help them build sustainable clubs we needed to first understand the needs of not only the people looking to take up the game, but also those involved in the programme – The PGA Professionals, volunteers and club members, and so we have designed a number of programmes and resources with the ethos that everyone must work together to grow the game.
As Get into Golf applications have closed for 2016, we have drawn up some basic advice on how to generate new members and retain existing ones. Those who are participating in the Get into Golf Programme or are receiving assistance from CGI will receive a full version of the Get into Golf Guide.
Background to Get into Golf
Get into Golf was first piloted by the Irish Ladies Golf Union in 2013 to help increase female participation. It has since developed into a programme that recruits men, women, boys and girls. This section will outline some research which shaped the current Get into Golf offerings.
In year one a great deal of research was conducted to identify the barriers to participation for women. The ILGU sent out a survey to current members of Clubs and below highlights some of the findings:
- 69% of respondents took up golf between 26-55 (take into account that the average age of respondents was 62)
- 88% of respondents took up golf because of friends, family or partners playing golf
Through the survey reasons why women took breaks from golf were identified along with what was conceived as the main issues with Golf Club membership. From here the ILGU were able to establish potential solutions which Golf Clubs could adapt to help break down potential issues/barriers. Below outlines some reflection areas:
- Does your club run regular family social and golf events?
- Does your club offer family membership?
- Does your Club have any activities for juniors running at the same time as adult competitions?
- Do your Club have 9 hole options for competitions?
- Do your Club offer a staged membership e.g introduction to full?
- Does your Club have an intermediate membership for those who have finished full time education?
- Does your Club have any flexible membership packages for those that play less frequently?
- Does your Club offer student membership?
- Does your Club outline the many benefits physical activity can have on a person who is studying?
“Equality is still an issue”
Strong views on equality were expressed survey responses, there was a feeling that in most cases as women were paying the same membership as men they ultimately expected the same treatment.
- Does your Club offer equal access to timesheets?
- Does your Club offer alternative day for competitions?
- Does your Club have gender balance on executive committees?
- Does your Club offer equal access to timesheets during Open weeks etc?
Research was also conducted with people who did not play golf were also surveyed and their main concerns were:
“Golf is too time consuming”
In order to break down this perceived barrier the Get into Golf programme introduced:
- Regular times– by having lessons and activities the same time and day each week meant ladies could make it part of their weekly routine
- Set playing times – playing for a period of time e.g 1.5 hours rather than setting out the number of holes to be played e.g playing 9 holes which for some beginners could take several hours
- Playing shorter courses – allowing participants to play from 100m, 150m, start of the fairway or tee boxes depending on their ability meant they could get around the course a lot quicker and felt like they were achieving something
- Offering 9 hole competitions – for those who were ready to move on to competition and handicap but didn’t have time to play 18 holes
“I wouldn’t know where to go, who to talk to or anyone at the Club”
This was a regular statement in the feedback, Golf Clubs were often perceived as being intimidating that are full of rules and regulations and a place that would be hard to break into, and therefore the programme includes:
- Advertising – offering people in wider community a chance to attend a FREE taster session so that they could try golf out without having to commit to anything. This was done through leaflets, posters, social media posts and emails to local businesses etc
- General information – by outlining start and finish times, where to meet, what clothing to wear and equipment required on the posters it helped to tackle the anxieties of the “unknown”
- Group sessions – the entire programme is about learning through a group environment that is safe and fun
- Buddy system – introducing club members as buddies and having social activities in the Clubhouse means there are opportunities for participants to integrate with members and into the Club
“I don’t want to sign up to a year’s membership and buy all the equipment without knowing if I will like it”
Understanding the issues in relation to membership structures became apparent throughout the findings and the feedback from the pilots, therefore the following things were introduced to the programme:
- Introductory membership– having a follow on introductory package in place for participants is now a mandatory for Golf Club’s involved in the programme, this has resulted in more people moving into membership (60% conversion from programme to membership, compared to 2013 of 32%)
- Club lending scheme – Golf Clubs can borrow equipment from CGI which can be used by participants through the duration of the programme
Whilst it is widely recognised that the recession took its toll on Golf Club membership, the above are suggestions that can easily be implemented and adapted by Golf Clubs to help break down the perceived barriers of joining a club. Although one of the main benefits of golf is being a sport that is accessible to all generations, many people feel that there is a ‘lost generation’ in their current membership and would like assistance in bridging that gap. Through research we have identified that different generations want different things, it became clear that as a whole younger generations wanted to make a quick impact, middle generations needed to really believe in what they were being offered and the older generations liked structure.
Whilst golf is globally marketed as a sport that is accessible to all generations, many feel there is a “lost generation” in their Golf Clubs. This section aims to get clubs thinking about their current offering and if it is an offering that is attractive to various age groups.
Below outlines a few of the highlighted points from published research on each generation (it is important to note that these are generalisations and will not apply to all members of a particular generation, the names of each generation are taken from research):
Boomers (50- 67)
- Make up the largest parts of Golf Club membership
- Typically like activities that are more controlled and structured
- Value peer competition
- Embrace a team based approach
Generation X (ages 35-50)
- Like to be able to ask questions and challenge the concepts
- Like to know exactly what is being offered
- Have clear goals and prefer managing their own time and solving their own problems rather than having them managed by someone else
- Like getting feedback to adapt to new situations and they are a flexible generation
- Are gender equal
Generation Y (ages 13-27)
- Described as being ‘the most educated, entertained and materially endowed generation in history’
- Have been raised in a self-educated era
- More interested in the social aspects of sports
- Like to learn new things in an environment that is engaging, flexible and fun
- Want to experience new things in an environment that their ideas and opinions are heard
Below is a list that can be used by Golf Clubs to generate discussion points on how their current offering meets the needs of the above generations:
- What types of membership do your club have on offer?
- Is it a one shoe fits all approach?
- Are there a range of options?
- What type of payment methods that are available for new and current members?
- Do members have to pay up front?
- Can members pay monthly?
- Does your club outline the benefits of becoming a member anywhere on your website/social media?
- If information is available is it easy to access?
- Is the information clear for non-golfers to understand?
- Does your club have a new membership welcome pack to make it easy for new members to integrate as part of the club e.g:
- How to book a tee-time
- Who to contact for lessons
- What day competitions run
- Opening and closing times of the clubhouse
- Social events
- How to get involved in club teams
- Does your club run any induction evening for new members or regular opportunities for them to integrate into the Golf Club once joining?
- What type of coaching does your PGA Professional offer beginners or existing members?
- On Course
- Is there a special rate for members vs non-members?
- How does your club advertise membership openings? How to monitor the success of the medium you use?
- Do you run exit interviews with members that leave to establish why they left?
- Does you club actively seek members feedback in the form of surveys, forums, members nights? Do you display any of the feedback and how you acted on it?
Ideas on Recruitment
Golf Clubs should look at various options when trying to recruit new members and not solely stick to traditional methods. The list below identifies some ideas on where and how to generate interest in your clubs offering:
Free Taster Sessions – a great way to introduce beginners to the game and the Golf Club environment. These sessions can be targeted at a specific group. Current members could be encouraged to invite family and friends. This session should also enable participants to also experience the social side of golf club membership.
Local Businesses- can be used to attract their employees and perhaps promote a corporate membership. CGI are available to awareness day in offices (where space permits)
Activities outside of the golf club – demonstrations and taster sessions at local shows/festivals, community facilities, colleges/universities and businesses, promoting follow-on opportunities at the club.
Driving ranges and Pitch & Putt courses – these are places where a number of newcomers will try the game. A mutual arrangement may be appropriate to ensure that golf club opportunities are promoted to people visiting driving ranges and pitch and putt courses.
School Awareness Day- a fun opportunity for school children to get their first taste of golf. Have a follow on activity in the Golf Club soon after the awareness day to develop a family theme with a social event (e.g. BBQ), which may parents and siblings involved.
Create links & partnerships with local sports/leisure clubs – Golf may be ideal for those sportsmen and women who are looking to take up a new, less intense activity and an additional activity for those participating in seasonal sports. Local Sports Partnerships (LSP’s) are another great way to recruit (ask your RDO for more details)
CGI Activity Map – this online service can benefit the golf club, it can promote membership and visitor offers and might also be a point of contact for newcomers to the game. Visit – www.cgigolf.org/activity-map
- Local schools (teachers)
- Parish Newsletters
- Sports Clubs
- Youth Clubs
- Local shops
Sports Club/Local Business Challenge
- Identify members in your club that are involved in other sports/social clubs and local business
- Ask each of them to form a team that would comprise of one member and 3 non-members from their club/business
- These teams will compete over 9/12 holes in a team format for a trophy/prizes
- It is encouraged to have dinner/drinks as part of the entry fee to get the people socialising and give the Golf Club an opportunity to outline membership packages that are available
Inter Pubs/Society Challenge
Could be run in a similar style to the above apart from teams could comprise solely of non-members. It would be an ideal way to showcase the benefits of Golf Club membership.
Festival of Golf
- Identifying a week/weekend to run a festival of Golf that would comprise of a number of different formats that are different from the traditional ones, may encourage men less interested in traditions and more interested in participation to the Club.
Key points to consider when recruiting for Get into Golf:
- Is your dress code a potential barrier for the type of new member you wish to attract?
- If rules are being relaxed for the Get into Golf Programme participants, have you shared this information with current members?
- Are all members and staff aware of the activities taking place?
- Are the club and facilities clearly signposted?
- Do you have adequate amount of support in terms of volunteers?
Remember: Beginners should be made to feel welcome and at ease within the Golf Club environment and be supported in their progression from beginner to Golf Club member.
The PGA Professional’s and Get into Golf volunteers involvement are especially important as they are the first points of contact and are key to the development of the player. Furthermore, a successful Get into Golf programme can generate additional business for PGA Professionals such as lesson bookings and further sales within the pro-shop