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
- The offering of a suitable staged membership offer
- Regular playing opportunities
Over the past few years, 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 this year, 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.
If your club would like to be involved, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marketing benefits of Golf Club Membership
How many Golf Clubs actually outline the benefits of becoming a member on their website or social media?
CGI have adapted Scottish Golfs resource on the Benefits of Golf Club Membership. Check out the list below:
- Unlimited Access to your Home Course– being a member gives you the opportunity to play when you like and generally as often as you like.
- Play Competitive Golf– only by being a member of a golf club can you play regular official club competitions. Most clubs offer a weekend and a midweek competition.
- Choose How Much You Play– you could choose only to play 9 holes or a smaller loop of 5 or 6 holes if the club permits. You generally wouldn’t have this option with pay as you play golf.
- A Great Clubhouse Environment– your local clubhouse can be a great place for eating, drinking and socialising with your friends, very often with value-for-money prices.
- A Sense of Belonging– membership of a golf club is a great way to be part of the local community and network with other people from the area; golf clubs often form a vital part of the local town or area.
- Meet New People– a chance to meet like-minded people, forming life-long friendships.
- Use of the Practice Facilities & Local Pro– you’ll get to improve your game on a regular basis with free use of the club’s practice facilities and access to lessons from the resident PGA professional.
- Gain an official CONGU handicap– only by being a member of an GUI/ILGU affiliated golf club can you attain an official CONGU handicap, giving you the opportunity to play competitions at your home course and others.
- Get your handicap down!– playing competitions regularly at your home club or in other Open competitions gives you the chance to get your handicap down to your targeted level – what most golfers are striving for throughout their life!
- Play in Matches against other clubs– being part of a club, you will have opportunity of representing your club in matches against other clubs, in your local area of further afield, whether you are a senior or junior, man or woman.
- Invite Your Friends– most clubs offer preferential ‘Members’ Guest Rate’ green fees giving you the chance to invite your friends to play your course. By making this reciprocal among your golfing friends, you can play many great courses at a fraction of the normal price
*Please note not all benefits will be applicable to all clubs so we advise you to pick and choose from the list to suit the specific arrangements at your club when promoting these to current and prospect members.
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?
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.