With lockdown restrictions continuing to ease across the country, Scottish Golf has reported that clubs throughout Scotland are experiencing a boom in new members.
Amidst financial instability caused by the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, many golf clubs found themselves facing severe financial strain.
However, in the last month, many have taken on record numbers of new members, with some clubs reporting more than a 100% increase in new sign-ups.
The rise in membership is also being met with an increased demand for tee times, with significantly higher numbers of people teeing it up in Scotland on a weekly basis.
Braes Golf Centre in Falkirk was struggling to stay afloat even before the pandemic hit with a membership of just 88. In the last month, however, the club has taken on over 300 new members and counting, with over 10% of those being junior members.
Fraserburgh Golf Club has also seen a marked difference since the easing of lockdown restrictions, signing up more than 50 new members. The seventh oldest golf club in the world has grown in popularity as well, with nearly double the number of people coming out to play on an average day than were before.
Karin Sharp, the Chief Operating Officer of Scottish Golf, said: “It has been without a doubt a trying time for people over the last few months in lockdown. But we are delighted to see with the implementation of Phase 2 that our affiliated golf clubs are seeing a surge in new members.”
Numerous clubs, including Braes and Fraserburgh, were early adopters of Scottish Golf’s new Venue Management System (VMS) – a virtual suite of online tools that enables clubs to manage their venue online – just before lockdown was initiated.
The system, which is now configured in 145 Scottish golf clubs, is available to all affiliated golf clubs in Scotland as part of their affiliation fee with Scottish Golf. VMS not only makes venue management smoother for staff; it means club members can book tee times, enter competitions and complete digital scoring through the Scottish Golf App.
Eddie McDonald, a committee member at Fraserburgh Golf Club, explained: "We were very fortunate to have Scottish Golf's new VMS system set up before the pandemic, so we were well prepared to do it all online with no risk of breaking social distancing. So far, the members are really enjoying it.”
Oban’s Glencruitten Golf Club has also used VMS since reopening and is seeing encouraging numbers, with over 150 new members joining in the last month.
Club secretary Bryan Livingston said: "We're really a small community so when we went into lockdown it was quite worrying for the club and we were basically in survival mode.
“We've seen a massive increase in new members joining. VMS has enabled us to manage this increase in members effectively and efficiently. It’s been huge asset for both the club and its members, and we feel it will be a really valuable product for smaller, community run clubs like ours where time and resources are limited.”
European Tour Rookie of the Year, Robert MacIntyre is a local member of the club and was full of praise for the new system, taking to Twitter to say, “Just booked a tee time on the new Scottish Golf App. Very good bit of kit and easy to use.”
Karin Sharp added: “Our Venue Management System provides clubs who are already configured a streamlined service to manage their business online and in one place. The system has played a vital role in ensuring golf can be played easily and safely during the easing of lockdown restrictions and has allowed friends and family to reunite on the course, with straightforward online and cashless booking.”