Could Golf Clubs try harder through winter?

Are Golf Clubs in the UK doing enough to offer members year-round value?

Winter golf
Winter golf
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Could Golf Clubs do more to draw members to the course and clubhouse during the colder months of the year? Are they offering year-round value?

For many Golf Clubs in the UK, the first frosts herald the end of the playing year: A time to batten down the hatches, breathe a sigh of relief and sit quietly until the spring meeting.

On the face of it this makes financial sense: reducing the opening hours of the clubhouse, limiting the catering and cutting down to a skeleton staff on and off course is a chance to save money on utilities and wages for four or five months of the year.

The argument in favour of such a policy is: “It’s what we’ve always done. Why have all the lights on and a full team standing around when nobody turns up?”

But isn’t this something of a defeatist strategy? Of course people don’t go to the Golf Club through the winter if there’s nothing to draw them there.

It’s not difficult to think of ways to make the Golf Club attractive through the winter. A full course should be available to play whenever possible, handicap-counting competitions should continue for those who want to participate.

CONGU handicap changes explained:

In addition there could be winter leagues, knockouts, eclectics, five club comps, mixed events etc. The professional could run winter coaching programmes and short game clinics with a lunch or drinks afterwards. Yes, the weather may occasionally be prohibitive but, come off it, we live in Britain not Alaska.

Off course, there might be quiz nights, snooker leagues, dances, guest speakers and there could be advertised screenings of big football matches or the Six Nations rugby; whatever keeps people spending money behind the bar. The caterers could do themed evenings, weekend roasts or special Sunday brunches.

At a time when many clubs are struggling for cash and to attract and retain members, shouldn’t they strive to offer an enticing year-round package? If it’s done well, the extra revenues will outweigh the costs and the membership will feel they’re getting value for money.

What we think: Golf Clubs should conduct a survey of the members to find what they expect of the club through the winter. Every effort should be made to meet those expectations.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during 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 history section of "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?