How The Cost Of Living Crisis Is Affecting Golfers...

We ask a collection of club players how the cost of living crisis might affect their golf

Golfer figurines on top of coins stacked up
(Image credit: Future)

Everyone's budgets are being squeezed at the moment with the ongoing cost of living crisis we are all facing day-to-day. We've already seen the implications in golf too, after a recent survey showed how the cost of green fees and memberships are set to rise at many clubs.

We asked a collection of club golfers from our online community on how the current cost-of-living crisis might be affecting their golf, whether that is through memberships, trips, days out, holidays or new clubs.

So, how is the cost of living crisis affecting your golf?

HOW WILL IT AFFECT MEMBERSHIP?

We’ve just seen a huge boom period in terms of membership with more and more golfers seeing the benefit of a club membership. There have been fewer opportunities to get away, other sports have taken a hit in terms of what could be played during the pandemic and new golfers have arrived at golf and lapsed golfers have fallen back in love with the game again.

The subs for 2022 have been paid but next year there could be a big hit. While we’re all opening eye-watering energy bills at the moment you can bet your bottom dollar (no pun intended) that your golf club is doing the same. They have huge buildings to light and heat, kitchens to run, machinery to operate and their bills will be escalating at the same rate.

For many of us the prospect of not being a member is an unthinkable one, it’s our No. 1 hobby and, while it’s pretty hard to get complete value for money in terms of green fees, there is the huge aspect of mental wellbeing, happiness, physical health and the whole camaraderie of being a member.

Lots of new members will have just paid a joining fee and won’t want to waste that huge outlay but, at the same time, golf is a pastime and many of us will genuinely struggle to justify a club membership.  

What the online community says..

Our subs have just gone up six and a bit per cent. Everything else is going up. Those full memberships with waiting lists might start taking a bashing as wages can't keep pace. We are full and have a waiting list, we usually lose 20-30 every year and the waiting list fills the places. It wouldn't surprise me if, come May, we're not full and the waiting list emptied. Imurg

I’m currently a Play More Golf flexible member at my club and had thought about going as a full member. However, looking at the memberships costs which seem to have gone up around 40 per cent in the last two years, I can’t really justify the costs. I don’t get to play as often as I would like, so paying £420 vs £1,400, makes more sense. If it was at the £1,000 mark it was then I’d probably have been persuaded. shane3003

Related: Best cheap golf balls

HOW WILL IT AFFECT BUYING EQUIPMENT?

You would guess that this is really going to take a hit. For most buying some new kit is a bit of a luxury with the prospect of a few extra yards paling into insignificance against paying the bills. You might not think that your current driver is doing you too many favours but the alternative of not playing is far less ideal. Forking out for a new £450+ driver really isn’t going to be a viable option for many in the coming months. Everything is on the rise and we’ll see soon enough how that is reflected in the cost of some new clubs – the manufacturers have the same overheads, material and energy costs and wage increases, and, if their sales drop, you’ll see a hike in prices.

What the online community says..

I was going to change my irons this year but my eyes watered when I found out the cost of a top make set. My last iron change was about three years ago (Mizuno bought) £115 an iron. Irons I am looking at (Titleist ) £160 each. At least the club has limited the increase to an inflation increase (3.4%). jim8flog

I've only recently joined a club and will renew my membership in the new financial year, but I am having to make some savings elsewhere that I was hoping to avoid. The biggest one for me though is clubs. I had planned on buying new irons and wedges this year, and possibly a new driver, but those plans are shelved for now - at least until later in the year when I find out how/if I've been able to adjust to the rising cost of living. phillarrow

Related: Best value golf courses in the Top 100

HOW WILL IT AFFECT TRIPS AWAY? 

As we’ve struggled to get abroad for some golf in the sunshine the UK golfers have filled their boots/spikes with a huge lift in rounds played. The Members and Proprietary Golf Club Survey, undertaken by Hiller Hopkins LLP, revealed that the number of playing increased some 61 per cent, which equates to 2.1m people, more joining fees and inflated subs. Likewise the cost of a green fee has increased by an average of 17 per cent with the average green fee said to be up £50.

The absolute ideal is that you get to play with a member somewhere and hopefully more and more communities will be able to host one another or you can land a great deal but, if not and you’re going to travel, then the likelihood is that, for that real treat, you’re going to want to play something a bit special. A green fee at an Open Championship course will set you back in the region of £250, somewhere in Surrey in the Top 100 will be around the £150 mark, similar to the North West, and you really have to go further afield before the prices drop. Which then brings in the cost of fuel… 

What the online community says..

I have some friends who are nomads and always inviting me to play different courses. It's tempting but I just can't justify paying a green fee when I'm paying a small fortune in membership. So for me, I'm only "playing away" if a course is really special or a guest fee. Sunshine

My course is only three miles away so increased fuel costs are negligible. I've plenty of gear and you don't constantly need new stuff to enjoy your golf. Not paying green fees to play away from my home club as often will be my financial compromise at the outset. The Fader

HOW WILL IT AFFECT YOUR FUEL?

Fuel prices have hit new records in recent times. The average price of petrol was 167p a litre with diesel averaging 179p a litre. The cost of a litre of petrol has increased by 16p in the past month, making the cost of filling a typical 55-litre family car nearly £9 more expensive. The average cost of diesel has gone up by more than 24p during the same period.

Given most of us drive to play golf this all has a huge impact. On top of the inflated green fee, food and drink, then it’s going to hit you in the wallet just to get there. The ideal would be to car share or get a minibus etc but that would involve everyone coming from the same direction which isn’t often the case. Many are going to ponder whether shelling out £100 just to get there for a day out as being a step too far in the current climate.

What the online community says..

I have stopped playing in club matches. The cost of fuel for away matches and the increased costs of the meals and wine has been a major factor in my decision along with many clubs now insisting you hire a buggy rather than using your own. It looks like I am not the only one as I have heard it said they are struggling for teams occasionally. jim8flog

I have two games arranged at Dunbar, the cost of diesel has risen to £1.799/litre so two round trips of 200 miles each will cost over £80! CliveW

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Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.