Cost Of Golf In The UK Set To Sky Rocket - Here's What You Need To Know...

The 2021/2022 Members and Proprietary Golf Club Survey data reveals a price increase in membership and green fees, but just how much?

Should Golf Clubs Prioritise Members?
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

As reported over recent months, golf participation has increased dramatically since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The total number of people playing golf increased some 61%, which equates to around 2.1 million people. An increase in demand certainly makes for more excitement at golf clubs but it does come at a cost... Literally. 

The Members and Proprietary Golf Club Survey, undertaken by Hiller Hopkins LLP, gives us a detailed insight into the financial impact of increased participation. Keep in mind a higher percentage of clubs reported membership higher than 600 with greater retention levels. Subsequently, 60% confirmed they now have a waiting list.

Longer rounds and struggles to get a tee time may be the least of our worries. The report highlighted a scary rise in cost across the board, ultimately increasing the financial burden placed upon golfers to take part in the beautiful game. 

34% of clubs that took part in the survey confirmed they have either increased, or reintroduced, a joining fee in the last year. 63% of clubs permit the joining fee to be paid in instalments, compared to 79% in 2020 and 90% in 2019. Not only are joining fees more commonly imposed, more and more clubs are now requiring the fee to be paid in full prior to joining. Typically they were to be paid between 1 and 5 years however, that seems to be on the decline. 

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there. 73% of clubs reported that their standard playing membership cost annually exceeds £1,000. This is up 11% from 2020. Further, 80% of clubs expressed their intent to increase the cost of membership subscription in 2022, compared to 61% in the previous year. These increases are expected to range between 2% and 9% of the annual subscription cost. 

For those that are thinking it might be cheaper to pay and play, I'm afraid there is more bad news. As the price of membership continues to rise, so too does the cost of a green fee. The report confirms that green fees across all categories has increased by an average of 17% with the average green fee said to be £50, up just shy of £8 from the previous year. A higher percentage of clubs are now reporting green fee revenue in excess of £140,000, up 7% from 2020. 

No matter which direction you turn, we are continually greeted with rising costs. Whether it be energy, manufacturing or the result of inflation or Covid-19, we can now confidently add golf to that list. The challenge for 2022 will be to maintain the success that increased participation brings, all the while trying to maximise member enjoyment, whilst keeping one eye on the financial uncertainty surrounding the industry. 

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.