UK golf clubs ‘concerned’ over age of members as numbers rise

Golf Survey 2022

Golf clubs across the UK are “concerned” about the average age of members, a study has found – but membership is on the rise.

According to an annual report produced by accountancy firm Hillier Hopkins, nearly two-thirds of members are over the age of 50, with a third over 61. It also found three-quarters of members were male. 

The study, which covered 99 clubs around the country, also revealed 80% were planning to increase their prices for 2022. 

However, in more positive news, more than half of the clubs surveyed said they had a waiting list for membership, and 87% said they would be willing to change rules to encourage more young people to join. 

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“2021 has been a much better year for golf clubs with 79% of members clubs and 88% of proprietary clubs reporting growth in the year,” said Matt Bailey, senior manager at Hillier Hopkins.  

“53% of clubs report waiting lists for members compared to just 22% of clubs in 2019, the year before the pandemic. 

“Clubs are however concerned that the age of membership remains stubbornly high, with almost three quarters of club members aged over 50, and with 33% of members aged over 61. All clubs continue to work hard to attract younger and greater numbers of female members.”

Nearly half of clubs now offer flexible memberships, the study found, with an average of 29,000 rounds played at each of the clubs surveyed. 

The average green fee was £31 for members and £58 for non members, while 77% of clubs kept membership prices under £1,612.

On average, clubs employed 25 full-time staff – but most had minimal cash surpluses, averaging just £64,000. 

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“We all know information is king in ensuring a business can maximise on its services and bottom-line income. Even more valuable this year since we have all battled through changes in operation and closedowns due to Covid restrictions in operation,” said Doug Poole, chief executive of the UK Golf Federation.  

“Therefore, the Hillier Hopkins Members and Proprietary Golf Clubs Survey and Report 2021/22 is perfectly timed with some excellent insights into costing levels, changes, staffing numbers and operational matters.” 

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