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For many of us, the annual golf club subscription is a significant outlay and a hefty chunk of our yearly earnings. At a time when the cost of living is escalating, it's a big spend that needs careful consideration. But there are places in the UK where golf club membership is more affordable. And there are other options for being a golf club member and shelling out a little less too.
As a rule of thumb, golf club subscription rates are determined by the basic economic principal of supply and demand. In areas of high population, you’ll find more people prepared to pay more money for golf club subs and the prices will inevitably rise with the demand. In areas of lower population density, members are harder to come by and clubs cannot command such high fees. Clubs in those areas are run on a tighter budget and the subs can stay lower as a result.
Basically, the cheapest golf club memberships in the UK can be found where people are not. That means you’ll find some exceptionally low rates in the land where golf began – Scotland. Generally speaking, the local clubs across Scotland offer value for money in terms of annual membership subscriptions. But looking to the further reaches of the country, you’ll find amazingly cheap rates. These are just a few examples.
Tain Golf Club in northern Scotland charges £450 for full subs. It’s a championship course, designed by Old Tom Morris, set on the beautiful Dornoch Firth and you can be a full member for just £450! Actually, you have to include the Scottish Golf Affiliation Fee of £16.10 and there’s a bar levy of £20, meaning you have to spend £20 in the bar over the course of the year (hardly an onerous task). So you can be a full member for £486.10. That’s cheap. But it could be even cheaper – If you want to join Tain as a new member, there's a new member offer of just £295 plus bar levy.
Tain is not unique in northern Scotland in terms of membership pricing. A little further up the coast at Golspie, annual subs are £380. The famous inland gem at Boat of Garten on Speyside charges an annual subscription of £440 for full membership. The subs at Ballater on Royal Deeside are £435. Up the valley at supremely scenic Braemar, it’s just £310.
How about going a little further afield? There are some great deals to be had on the Scottish Islands. Stornoway Golf Club on the Isle of Lewis is offering an introductory membership deal - £100 for the year for people who are either new to the sport of golf, have moved to live in Lewis since 2012, have not been a member at Stornoway for two years, have been a social member and are looking to move up, or have just returned from injury or illness. £100 for the year! Don't worry too much if you don’t meet those criteria though, full fees at Stornoway are currently just £363.
At Shiskine Golf Club on the isle of Arran, current full subscription rate is just £220 (and for that you also become a member of the tennis club).
Back on the mainland, at Scotland’s southwest tip, there’s more brilliant value to be had. At Wigtonshire County Golf Club, full subs are £440. On the other side of southern Scotland, full subs at the highly regarded Eyemouth Golf Club are £460.
Throughout Scotland there are memberships available for less than £500 per year at quality golf courses. £500 per year equates to £41.67 per month, less than £10 a week – In old money, that’s cheaper than a packet of cigarettes!
Age Related Memberships
There are membership deals to be had in Wales too – Nefyn & District is one of the most photographed tracks in the country, features in Golf Monthly's Next 100 courses, and is a real joy to play. Full membership in 2022 is £560.
But like most courses, it’s good news if you’re a youngster. If you’ve just turned 18, you’ll pay only £145. Right up until age 34, on a sliding scale, you pay less than £500 per year.
At nearby Abersoch, a beautiful and friendly course, intermediate golfers aged from 19 to 29 pay just £290 for the year against a full membership of £550.
At the other end of the scale, Nefyn offers £40 off for the over 65s who have been members for 20 years or more. Many clubs still offer senior rates. At Abersoch, golfers lucky enough to still be playing at the age of 80 hand over just £290 for a year’s subs.
Staying in Wales, Tenby Golf Club – one of the great coastal courses – offers a flexible membership option as part of the PlayMoreGolf group of courses. For just £350 you can play up to 30 rounds a year at Tenby and have a chance to use "flexi" points to play at more than 260 clubs across the country that are part of the network.
Many clubs now offer flexible membership programmes that allow you to pay as you play. In most instances, you pay a reduced subscription and then pay a fee to play. This may be per round, or the club might operate a system of credits. A game at off-peak times may cost relatively few credits, while a start in the Saturday Medal would require more credits.
The Crown Golf group of clubs, including Pine Ridge, Addington Court and St Mellion offer a range of flexible options that allow you to tailor your membership to your requirements, limiting costs as a result.
More Value Options
Other clubs simply offer good value for money. Kington Golf Club in Herefordshire is one of the most unique in the country, it’s the highest golf club in England. Full subs are £660 but they also offer flexible options starting at just £250. Kington offers a full range of memberships including a discount for those on a modest income.
In the north of England, the highly regarded course at Silloth on Solway in Cumbria, ranked 51st in Golf Monthly’s most recent top-100 ranking, offers full membership at just £575 for a year, with age-related discounts down to £200 for 19-24-year-olds. In terms of quality of course versus value for membership, Silloth is tough to beat.
If you want to retain a membership somewhere but don’t plan to play frequently, you might opt for a country membership at a club somewhere you travel to on holidays, or for work. Often a country membership subscription will be up to half the price of a full membership. That’s the case at Mullion Golf Club in Cornwall where full membership is a very reasonable £610 and country membership just £305. You can become a country member at most clubs but criteria will vary in terms of the distance you have to reside from the club.
Note: Membership rates quoted are at time of writing and may change/have changed for 2022 - Please check with individual clubs for confirmation.
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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