Golf clubs focus on retaining members and capitalising on 2020 boom

For golf clubs in Ireland, 2020 was a strange year. On the one hand, every club in the country was closed for a total of 14 weeks over the course of two lockdowns but, on the other, the majority of clubs were busier than they have ever been, particularly in the summer months.

Many clubs saw their net membership numbers increase more than ever before and Golf Ireland estimate that total membership numbers in Ireland increased over 10 per cent to around 195,000.

However, with closures meaning 14 weeks of no green fee or society income while still paying maintenance costs, cash flow took a hit and the focus for clubs now is on retaining as many members as possible. With courses currently closed and little indication of when they will reopen, loyal membership is more important than ever but there are a number of challenges.

In general, asking people to pay an annual subscription fee in January when it’s wet and cold and dark by 4.30pm is difficult. Add in the fact that members are currently being asked to pay for a service they can’t use and it becomes a different ball game altogether.

For members who live in a different county to their golf club, last year was even more difficult with those in Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Offaly and Donegal facing tighter restrictions at various times. For instance, a golfer who lives in Dublin but is a member in a golf club in Kildare would have been unable to travel to their club for just over 22 weeks of last year.

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