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If you’re sitting on the fence debating whether to join a golf club and don’t know which way you’re going to go, think about this: you have a far better opportunity to improve at this game if you are a member of a club.

It’s not a big secret: golf is one of the hardest sports to play. But when you get it right, the buzz is infectious. Gains, no matter how small, can instill something in your brain that says: ‘This is the best sport in the world’.

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Anybody who has ever played golf and felt a small modicum of an upward trend in their skills knows what the ‘golf bug’ is and how contagious it can be.

It’s a point Andy Carlton, the PGA professional at Paisley Golf Club in Glasgow, nods his head in agreement with.

“A few years ago I was teaching a guy who wasn’t a member of a club, called Gary Williamson,” says Carlton. “He works as a photographer and is a really lovely guy. Every time we met up I told him about the club and, eventually, he joined – and his handicap dropped from 18 to 14 and then 14 to 9.

“Since he’s come in he’s had a complete new lease of life. He’s now in playing Tuesday nights, on Saturday mornings, and he has a new group of friends. He’s now socialising outwith the golf circle but, ultimately, is feeling better about himself because he’s got some new people around him and his golf is in a really good place. And that was helped by him just joining a golf club.

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“This is his life now. It’s not just a golf club to him anymore.”

Carlton, 33, is your typical hard-working modern PGA pro: active on social media and heavily involved in the future direction of his place of work. He also thinks club membership is more valuable now than it was ten years ago.

“I firmly believe there are far more benefits to being a golf club member these days,” he says. “I think there are plenty of PGA pros across the country that are doing more to encourage people to join and get into the game that way. PGA pros are investing in technology more than ever – something that wasn’t available on a national scale ten years ago – and to get access to that on a regular basis is so much easier if you’re a member of a club.

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“There are golfers that will make huge strides by joining a club and not just paying as you play. It changes your life. If you make your life better, you’ll make your golf better. I say that to the people I teach all the time. ‘I’m going to change your life today. I’m going to make you a happier person. I’m not just going to change your golf game, I’m going to change your life.’

“Honestly, that’s what they feel when they see improvement in their golf game.

“If your golf is good, everything can be good.”

The noise coming from sections of the golf world would have you believe that nothing works and we’re all doomed – but Paisley Golf Club has been quietly trending in the right direction.

Eight years ago, they were 90 members short of being at full capacity and losing members not so much at a rapid rate, but at a rate that definitely needed addressing. The club used its ‘rainy day’ fund and spent £250,000 on its course in 18 months. It had to compete with its competition.

“We got the course back to tip top condition,” said Carlton. “You’ve got to speculate to accumulate. We are the prime example.”

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Bryce Ritchie is the Editor of bunkered and, in addition to leading on content and strategy, oversees all aspects of the brand. The first full-time journalist employed by bunkered, he joined the company in 2001 and has been editor since 2009. A member of Balfron Golfing Society, he currently plays off nine and once got a lesson from Justin Thomas’ dad.

Editor of bunkered

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