Key Factors in Long Term Family Participation – Lifestyle factors; 2) Cost

Sourced from; R&A Women’s and Girls’ Charter.

The cost of playing golf is closely related to family participation. Research by Sheets and colleagues (2016) found that that a new consumer has emerged seeking a less expensive, more casual, and less challenging alternative to traditional golf, sometimes referred to as ‘nomadic golfers’. Prier and colleagues (2017) assessed golf consumers’ perceptions of ‘junior executive memberships’, which are flexible membership types with age-based price incentives for young working families or couples. It was found that the families who took advantage of these memberships had higher expectations of the service quality they would get combined with lower evaluations of service they actually received. The result is a gap between the expectations of what service quality families expect and what the reality was. It is important then that marketing strategies of flexible family membership options are maintain a focus on high level customer service, and managing consumers’ perceptions of this, in order to achieve the desired retention levels. Indeed, challenging perceptions of golf was a common theme raised during the interviews. 

Action point: Ensure quality of customer service is at the centre of flexible family membership products. It is also important to manage expectations in this regard.  

Industry Expert Analysis: Ben “There’s a perception that golf’s an expensive sport but actually it’s not. Your average junior membership is £100 a year. That’s £2 per week, it’s actually cheaper than playing football. So, I think there’s work to do to challenge this perception.”  

Industry Expert Analysis: Samantha “It can be a little bit in perception. I think if people start to look at costs they have for other activities … it can soon be comparable, and a lot of the costs in golf tend to be a block upfront … there’s an element of cost but there’s a lot of flexibility.” 

 Similarly, in a study of various westernised countries, Hodge and colleagues (2016) found that perceived satisfaction rather than just involvement alone was strongly related to positive family outcomes. That is, in regards to family golf participation is it not the quantity of leisure experiences, i.e. how many times they come to the golf environment, which is of upmost importance, but rather the quality of product when they get there. Satisfaction levels have been found to be the most stable predictor of variance in family leisure participation. 

 Action point: Emphasis should be placed on creating satisfying family leisure experiences rather than simply high levels of family leisure involvement. Attention, therefore, should be directed away from numbers of families taking part in golf to focus on the satisfaction levels of those who do take part, in order promote continued participation.