Sarah Forrest reveals the combination of factors that led to her not renewing her golf club membership this year...

Why I’m Not Renewing My Golf Club Membership After 10 Years

Whilst there is not one primary reason why I came to this decision, there are multiple factors which have contributed to my decision to leave my golf club after 10 years.

1. Access to the course

In the days of equality, when I pay the same amount as my male counterparts for membership, I would expect to have equal access to the course too.

Far too many times, as a working female, have I not been able to play until late on a Saturday or Sunday, and sometimes both due to other competitions, usually men’s, being played.

With an ageing membership, non-working males could be actively encouraged to play mid-week in an alternate day instead of having a medal for all on a Saturday.

Keeping the competitions on a Saturday for all male members not only restricts access for the working males who don’t want to play in the competition, but it also further restricts the access to the course for the working female, who has no choice.

The demise of the 5-day membership has in effect, reduced the access to the course for working membership – whether male or female.

In the ladies section, their medal day was Tuesday – great if you don’t work, so they offered an alternate day at the weekend.

However, when scheduling the weekend alternate dates in advance, they were often fitted in and around the men’s competition dates, so could be any time during a Saturday or Sunday.

The women just had to flex – if they wanted to play!

With fewer working women being accommodated, the pond is often too small to fish in.

Family, working full time, reduced access to the golf course and a small pond to fish in, is one reason why I didn’t re-join the club this year.

If working people are the next generation of golf club member, then they should be accommodated, equally.

2. Competition rules

Board competitions need to be managed by one person, or a selected group of people – who have knowledge.

Due to inconsistencies, poorly and badly communicated decisions during what can only be described as a weird year, lead to my opponent and I withdrawing from a prestigious board competition.

Finals day has traditionally been seen as a day to strive for, a day when one qualifies after a series of knock-out competitions throughout the year.

Clearly Covid did change some things.

My semi-finals opponent and I were told we had qualified to finals as one member had taken a holiday, during a pandemic, and therefore had to self isolate upon his return.

This rendered him unable to make finals day.

This decision was reversed 3 days later.

It seems he had lobbied the Men’s Captain who changed the rules of this competition.

Other ill-thought through snap decisions did little to appease the situation and left a lot of unhappy members.

My advice; it is paramount that committees have knowledge and/or authority to make decisions.

No communication should be entered into until a final and fair decision was made which should then be communicated professionally.

3. Tee time chaos

Whilst golf clubs were patting themselves on the back, clearly delighted with the uptake of golf during a pandemic, the warning signs should have been noted too.

I’m not saying the bubble has burst, but now golf clubs have to work to retain their membership.

The membership is the main stay of income, the bread and butter for most golf clubs, far more cost productive than the odd green fee from transient players or the occasional society.

Members are loyal, and importantly they are the eyes, ears and voice of the club too.

10 minute intervals and three-balls were adopted at the start of the pandemic.

This then became 8 minute tee time intervals and 4 balls, despite still being in the thick of a crisis.

The club allocated blank tee-slots to the secretary on a daily basis.

When I asked what this was for, I was told that it was for any golfers who might want to play – who aren’t members.

Often the slot was not filled.

So whilst the members were setting alarms to try and get the tee time they wanted, the prime time of mid-morning was invariably already allocated and not bookable.

The booking in advance system was adopted by the membership, yet these tee-times were taken out in advance, so there was no chance the members could book them.

To cap it all, societies were allowed to play during peak times too, including weekends.

Whilst I fully appreciate that revenue was drastically reduced, these actions are not, in my opinion, putting members first.

The lust for green fees was compromised at the expense of the member – the loyal member who offered a steady stream of regular income.

Why I’m Not Renewing My Golf Club Membership After 10 Years

In summary, I felt as though the golf club did not appreciate my membership or my contribution as a member, despite being there for a decade.

My gripe for inequality has been a long standing argument.

But the demonstration of other factors empowered me to make the final decision, a decision that was right for me.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but one I am now happy I made

I did not renew my membership after 10 years of loyalty.