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How to attract New Members to your Golf Club

Many golf clubs are struggling to maintain or increase their revenues, however others are in a better financial position.

But, all Clubs are facing huge unprecedented challenges.

The playing habits of golfers have changed over the last two decades. Waiting lists and joining fees are mostly a thing of the past, and members are more likely to change clubs if they feel they are not getting the service they deserve or value for money.

Indeed, in Scotland in 2011 the SGU reported membership numbers have dropped by 2% (3400) and has dropped 7% from the mid-2000s.

What does 2% mean for your club? £5000 per year?

UK and Ireland figures are worse at a drop of 3.1%, with Sweden at 4.1% and Spain at 2.9%.

In the USA, approximately 1% of clubs closed in 2011 as reported by the National Golf Foundation. That is a staggering 158 golf clubs.

Worse still if your membership has dropped more than 2% you are underperforming compared to other clubs and you are likely to be faced with uncomfortable decisions such as reducing expenditure and/or increasing subscription fees. But there is another way to reverse this decline.

Golf is in a contracting market and golf clubs who are ‘asleep at the wheel’ may find themseleves in a downward spiral. One year membership numbers may drop, new members may not join at the same rate, the club may be forced to reduce expenditure on the course, clubhouse and services and are then forced to increase the following years membership fees. Then next year the membership drops again. Its easy to see where this scenario will end.


At the end, the members could sell off the land for property development, but it is unlikely to raise much as planning permission is unlikely to be granted. Also, builders are struggling to fund themselves and develop existing sites.

The best thing a club can do is ensure they keep the revenue generation at levels where they can continually invest in improving the clubs services. As mentioned, if your clubs services drop one year it could be the beginning of a quick and ugly cash squeeze.

We help in a number of areas,

  • Increasing membership – your members can be your best ambassadors as long as they are satisfied. New members are particularly good at attracting new recruits as they are full of enthusiasm. The importance of attracting new members can be communicated to your membership.

  • retaining existing members

  • utilising the clubhouse

  • increasing corporate sponsorship

  • marketing the club professionals

  • and selling tee times online

  • No other solution out there does all of this so easily.

    Clubs must start to exploit all methods available to maintain or increase revenue and ensure that

    their club is in a better position tomorrow, never mind next year.

    The Bookitee system can easily pay for itself through the increased number of sponsors, the additional members, increase promotional activity and use of clubhouse and dining facilities, as well as increased green fees.

    When you subscribe to Bookitee we will provide you with a customised online booking and marketing page. This page can feature your logo at the top and will be set up so that your courses availability can be displayed. There are a number of features on this page which will help your club get new members and retain existing members.

    For example Buddy up is a system where members can put a message on the screen if they’re looking for a playing partner. These messages can be displayed to certain segments of membership such as gents or ladies and allows members with a login to respond and arrange games. This feature is especially useful to help new members find playing partners and therefore enjoy the club more and be more likely to become a member for many more years.

    We also have other features such as recommend a member and this allows existing members to enter the details of any friends and acquaintances who may like to be come a member. This automatically sends a membership pack to the prospective member and automatically informs the club of this event. So they can follow up if required.

    There is also the ability to add sponsors to this page. This can bring in extra revenue for the golf club. For example 18 different sponsors could pay per year to be featured on this page bringing in a large amount of revenue. Many sponsors like the fact that the logo is displayed to the members alongside the message of the sponsor services and then the member can click on the features bonds and be directed straight to the sponsors website.

    There are also great possibilities to promote events offers using discounts or percentages off. This system will also allow you to issue unique vouchers with unique voucher codes so that if you wish you can ensure the number of redemptions matches the number of vouchers issued.

    There are also options to advertise information on corporate sponsorship or information on how to book the club for a private function if that is what is required.

    Of course on top of all this is a fully featured booking system that allows members to login with an individual login and book their teatime. The results of the option to allow visitors to book and you can easily configure many different types of ticket types whether they be visitors seniors juniors or twilight and then automatically take payment using the worldwide known PayPal Internet payment Gateway.

    The booking system has loads of features. These include limiting booking time by membership type, changing the start and end time different days whether leaving midweek weekend. The system also notifies members by e-mail of any bookings. You can also add in competitions and begin competition is where friends can add themselves to competitions as well as their friend. This can also be configured in many different ways. Our system is also easy to run and operate. It has been designed so that members can easily reset passwords without any intervention from the club. This really is a hasslefree system to operate.

    Everything can be configured using our administration interface and we will always be at the end of the phone if you have any issues.

    So if you want your club to increase revenue tomorrow within easy no hassle set up and with the current 30 days free trial then contact us straightaway on (0141) 416 0075 and we will be happy to speak with you and work with you towards a sunny future

    To get new members for your club you should immediately adopt the following strategies

    Get an online booking system

    An online booking system shows that your club is open for business and can help to get prospective members playing your course. Whilst undoubtedly an effective marketing tool, you should be wary of presenting the wrong image of your club if you decide to sell discounted tee times.  The Bookitee technology focuses not only on tee times but on member integration and satisfaction and also identifying new and optimizing existing revenue streams. It gives you the technology to unlock your club’s earning potential.  Have a look at our features page for further details.

    Use your website to attract members

    Do you have an area prospective new members can sign up to a newsletter or enquire about membership?  Many more people think about joining a golf club than actually make the step to sign up.  A contributing factor to this is that it is sometimes difficult to find information, or at least relevant information, on the membership options.  Also, people inevitably get busy with the rest of their lives and follow the “I’ll do it later” approach.  What if, when booking a tee time a visitor was able click a box and a membership pack would automatically be sent to them.  These are just some of the problems that Bookitee technology solves.

    Use existing members

    Existing members are often aware of friends who are thinking of joining the club. By operating a members incentive program, you can ensure that your club is probably at the top of the prospective new members list of potential clubs.

    Many websites now have areas where members can recommend a friend by entering the friends email address, or linking through social networking sites. The friend then receives an automatic email alongside an invitation an open day, or a free guest round with the member. Also, the member could receive an automatic voucher to spend either in the pro shop or the club house. The importance of attracting new members needs to be communicated to your membership. Often members within a club mistakenly think that their club has a healthy waiting list when in reality, it’s a different story. You need to communicate clear objectives and benefits when putting together a member referral programme.

    We think your members can be your best ambassadors. New members are particular good at attracting new recruits as they are often enthusiastic.  Make sure you can create a buzz from your members.  Listen to comments from members on everything.  Ultimately they are what keeps the club operating and if you keep them happy and market your club in the right way then you will be well placed to work your way through any economic storms.  Bookitee technology offers you the ability to run promotions through your Bookitee page to achieve this.

    Discount Vouchers

    Discount vouchers can be used to attract new people to your club but what is even more important is retaining them.  There have been numerous horror stories lately where too many vouchers were sold resulting in low levels of customer satisfaction and losses for the voucher provider.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Golf discount vouchers could be beneficial if promoted the right way.  For example, affiliating with another local course and providing exclusive rights for your members to play that course, and vice versa.  This retains the exclusivity of a golf club if that is a requirement, whilst also ensuring a focused customer experience.  Bookitee technology offers you the ability to run vouchers through your Bookitee page.

    Local Marketing

    Your local community should provide a wealth of potential new member prospects but be prepared to put in the time and effort to build up relationships in these areas. You may also have members who can help with local community marketing such as by using Facebook, Groupon and local community websites.

    Incentivising New Members

    Until recently, life has been relatively simple for all businesses including golf clubs when it came to gaining new members and customers. However, businesses are now fighting for survival and that their potential audience is becoming increasingly segmented and they have to offer variations of their products or services in order to meet demand and compete.

    You should also review your membership structure and possibly offer new types of memberships such as family memberships.

    Health clubs are leading the way, offering customers the option of joining with their partner  or spouse, and offering corporate memberships. These have been proven to be very successful in attracting new members to health clubs and can be equally successful at signing up new members to your golf club.  Bookitee can give you the platform through your Bookitee page to keep existing and prospective members aware of the latest developments in membership packages.

    Let’s hear your ideas!

    If you have any ideas on how to attract new members, please tell us and others reading this article by entering your comments below.

    4 Awesome Comments So Far

    Don't be a stranger, join the discussion by leaving your own comment
    1. John
      February 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

      Clubs could start to consider more membership options such as a partner rate, where a member and their partners join at a reduced rate.

      However, this must be approached with caution.

      I know of many men who would choke at such a proposal. The last think they want is their wife joining their golf club and interrupting their downtime.

    2. Tracey
      February 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

      De Vere are offering a golf club membership for £295 and you are allowed to play for free up to the end of March 2011. On first impression, this seems attractive but it immediately made me think, what happens after that? Are you a real member or not? Do others think the same as me, or do you think this is a good offer?

    3. admin
      February 19, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

      Flexible memberships such as the De Vere points based scheme sort of creates a new type of member who probably play less than once a week. Unfortunately, if you live in Scotland, you would likely only use the Carrick Course at Loch Lomond and it can charge 10 to 20 points per round, allowing only 5 to 10 rounds in the year – not much. You can buy more points, but I couldn’t find out how much they are. Does anyone know?

      Given that clubs can charge £700 per year, if you got another 10 rounds for £400, it may become better, but its still expensive. What about the option of playing 5 holes late on a summers night? Would this be charged at the full points rate?

      Here’s a link for an article about the De vere scheme as well as info on how clubs can innovate new methods to attract new members.

    4. admin
      February 19, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

      I found out how much extra points cots – £295 for 100. Also, twilight golf costs 6 points, so it allows you to go out and hit a few shots.

      This leads me to ask, could two clubs get together and offer such a points membership without annoying the existing membership? Or would all the existing members join the scheme and downgrade their memberships?

      The article link above also describes some private clubs creating their own point schemes or flexible memberships. I really think the Rye Hill golf scheme is very interesting and could work at many clubs.

      They introduced points for golf. £150 for 70 points, up to £565 for 345 points – 18 holes uses 10 points at the weekend and 8 midweek, after 5pm 5 -6 points, 5 holes 2 points. Full membership is £799. So for £565 you could get around 30 to 40 rounds of golf. The problem is, existing members could downgrade, so could be bad for an existing course. Clubs would need to calculate how many rounds members play per week.

      Say a club has 700 members – (complete guess work below – does anyone have any more realistic statistics)
      10% play more that 50 times – charge £799
      30% play 30 to 50 -£565
      30% play 20 to 30 – £415
      20% play 10 to 20 – £220
      10% up to 10 times – £150

      Right, it looks like the club may lose revenue, but is this really true? What about having these flexible memberships, but utilising the quiet times of the course. That means you could keep high paying members and do the points for other times. You could charge an extra 5 points for playing in the medals.

      I would be interested in modifying our Bookitee software to cater for this if a club wanted to adopt this payment method.

      Has anyone got some real life examples of implementing such a scheme.

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