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In May 2021, the R&A published its participation report. Together with England Golf, Golf Ireland, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf, it reported a significant uptake despite the challenges of Covid-19.
The total number of people taking to the links increased by 2.1 million to 5.2 million (+61%). As golf is recognised as one of the safest activities for its reduced human contact, it appeared people took to the game as their form of physical and mental relief during the pandemic. Many feared that participation levels would drop off once restrictions were eased and expected people to return to their “normal” leisure activities but that appears not to be the case.
With the help of 72 members golf clubs and 27 proprietary clubs across ten regions, Hillier Hopkins LLP has undertaken its 2021/2022 Members and Proprietary Golf Club Survey. The published findings show just how the increase in participation has impacted golf club memberships.
The data showed a whopping increase in clubs that now have a waiting list with 60% confirming one now in place, compared to just 22% in 2019. The number of new members in 2021 were very similar to the figures reported in 2020, with an average per club of 91 compared to 93. That said, 49% of clubs stated they have membership greater than 600, an increase from 43% in 2020 and 38% in 2019.
The data shows that many people that took to the game during the pandemic has resulted in increased membership but perhaps equally as important, is the rise in retention. This year, clubs reported fewer leavers (an average of 35 compared to 43) and 100% of clubs reported more new members than those that left - An increase from 88% in 2020.
Higher levels of retention show just how enjoyable golf can be. One key attributor however, is the increase in flexible membership rates. In 2019, only 27% of clubs offered flexible deals. This increased to 36% in 2020 and rose once again to 40% in 2021. Common deals included points and credit based schemes, where members pay for the amount of golf they play, and restrictions to certain days of the week and seasons.
Does your club have a waiting list? Let us know!
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.
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