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The Club Benefits of a Flexible Membership Programme: An Interview with John Osbaldeston, Club Treasurer at Crompton & Royton Golf Club

Across the UK there are 3 million active golfers, but only 1 million golf club members. Therefore, there’s no doubt a huge opportunity to bring up to two thirds of golfers into a membership programme that benefits their game. Not only does joining a golf club bring in revenue for the club but installs a sense of belonging and community within the golfer. The problem is, across Europe, golf membership rates have regressed 25%, and so at PlayMoreGolf, we challenge the traditional golf membership model and propose a new way of working.

Last week, PlayMoreGolf Director Jamie Carroll hosted a webinar with John Osbaldeston, Club Treasurer at Compton & Royal Golf Club to discuss this issue in more depth, giving us insights into the way PlayMoreGolf works for clubs across the country and why a flexible membership is so relevant and beneficial for all. For those of you who want to view the entire webinar online, you can do so by clicking here.

“Golf membership numbers have diminished significantly across the board”, explained John, “and this was certainly true of Crompton & Royton. A lot of our full members who had reached their later years have downgraded to 5-day membership, affecting our revenue significantly. Many of our younger members disengaged too, which prompted us to bring in lower fees for younger members between the age of 18 and 30. But the average age of our golf club member last year was 60 years old, proving that the younger members had other interests and responsibilities that were incompatible with our traditional offering.”

This dilemma is not an uncommon one. Increasing numbers of clubs are facing loss of revenue due to the trends sweeping the UK and the rest of Europe, forcing them to consider a new way of working. But with change comes hesitation, questions and challenges, as John went on to describe:

“As a board, we knew something needed to change but we had reservations about the flexible membership scheme. Charging one fee for a traditional member and another fee for a flexible member needed to be justifiable, and we were worried about how we would get past that issue. Not only that but administering this ourselves would have been difficult and risky and we weren’t sure how to market the product. After leaving it for some time, in December 2017 we had a batch of resignations which prompted us into action and we were happy to outsource the entire process to PlayMoreGolf after seeing their advertising.”

Many golf clubs share John’s initial hesitations surrounding marketing and administration, as well as losing control over the club membership offering and upsetting existing members. But there was one feature that pleasantly surprised John. “We were pleased that we could set the points per round tariff and the parameters. As a board, we decided to reduce the booking window to 7 days from 11 days so that our existing members could pick the premium times.”

So what’s the process of implementing a flexible membership programme? Well, the first step is to pick up the phone and speak to a PlayMoreGolf team member. This is followed by a face to face meeting at your club where your individual club needs and preferences are discussed and incorporated into a flexible membership plan.

“It has helped tremendously to work alongside a business who are able to successfully market the flexible product and welcome new members”, said John. “We have access to a club support manager which is highly beneficial, and for the fees we pay, we feel that joining with PlayMoreGolf has been a very beneficial exercise for us as a members club. The process of moving from an initial conversation to launching the product was only 2-3 months between January and March 2018, and most of that time was spent determining the terms and conditions as to not disrupt our traditional membership. However, it’s been straight forward and quick to implement and we saw early measurable successes which I was pleased to present to the board”.

The early successes John has mentioned can be seen below:

The initial successes experienced by Crompton & Royton Golf Club are expected to long continue, and not only are the figures promising, but the membership demographic for the club is beginning to change for the better, with younger members joining the club and existing members retaining their memberships without switching to the cheaper product.

Crompton & Royton Golf Club is by no means an exception. Successes like these are easily achievable at your golf club, within terms you are happy with. To sign up for a flexible membership programme, click here, or speak to one of our friendly experts.