Are increased golf membership fees justified?

Are increased golf membership fees justified?

Golf shakes Liam Moore responds to responses to the latest Golfshake poll.

The age-old argument of golf membership or the nomadic golfer continues to rage. The irony is that both sides have strong arguments and are ultimately determined by the individual and their situation – there is no right or wrong answer.

However, nomadic golfers are currently on the losing side of this argument due to COVID-19. Tee times are hard to come by, green fees have increased exponentially in some areas, and the social aspect of golf has been seriously hampered by the pandemic.

However, we will focus on golf membership and the perceived price hike. It is important to note that not all golf clubs have seen membership growth, but enough to warrant this discussion.

In a recent survey by Golfshake, we look at the responses and analyze whether increased membership fees are justified.

Missing income

One can hardly argue against that. With the clubs closed for so long, it goes without saying that the facilities will try to reclaim the funds lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there is a fine line between trying to regain a significant loss and ripping off members. It’s a fine line, but clubs guilty of the latter category go against the ethics of our wonderful sport.

Still, golf club revenues are significant for many reasons. Each facility is run by wonderful and often ungrateful staff who keep the club running and provide an environment for us to relax, unwind and improve on our favorite activity.

But similar to the exponential increase in green fees for nomadic golfers, higher membership fees have the potential to remove the inclusivity label that golf has worked so hard on these days.

By increasing membership fees, institutions effectively price people off of sport. While the system of cheaper membership packages for younger golfers is excellent and will certainly encourage more to get involved in the sport, it is important that this is not due to pre-existing members.

Comment on the golf shake poll: “The club I used to belong to did not offer any financial compensation for the time lost due to the lockdown. When we found out that they were still making a profit, we left immediately. “

Comment on the golf shake poll: “Although I think the clubs have dealt well with the pandemic, some have raised their prices and trying to join a club as a member has become much more difficult and financially more challenging.”

Sustainability of the club


It’s nice to criticize the club’s inflated pricing, but we also have to remember that an establishment’s sustainability is entirely about two factors: volume and profit.

Without people playing the course, the business would not be deemed viable. In addition, without making a profit it would be impossible to maintain the condition of the course or to improve it even further.

Given that, and the loss of revenue during the various bans, it could be argued that a price hike was inevitable – given that the clubs had lost about a quarter of their revenue.

Comment on the golf shake poll: “A number of clubs seem to be investing in their courses and facilities and using the quieter times to make improvements.”

This is fantastic news. It is great that clubs would pump money straight back into their “product” and thus mitigate higher membership fees if golfers were aware that this would have a positive impact on their course.

The problem, however, is when institutions charge more and rarely reinvest in their facilities.

Comment on the golf shake poll: “I’m not sure whether the clubs handled it well. We found that the course maintenance was poor and rough. I have noticed that since returning to golf I have lost more golf balls right next to the fairway. “

If you are paying more for membership, then it is right to ask for better communication and service.

The community relies on golf courses and clubs and without them golf would simply not be possible. However, it is wrong to compromise on what was once available – especially if the degree of delivery does not improve at the same time.

The modern economy

Golf club member

If you couple the political developments of the last four years with the unexpected pandemic, then it is obvious that the modern economy will go along with it.

When the economy is losing money from the very top, it is only natural for it to trickle down and eventually affect everyone.

With this in mind, the argument for higher membership prices becomes a catch 22.

On the one hand, clubs need our financial support to ensure their long-term sustainability. On the other hand, it becomes more difficult to justify exponential fees for recreational activities as less money flows into households.

Hard isn’t it?

There have been some reports of reduced start times that can cause problems with the game speed, but most importantly from a health point of view.

Comment on the golf shake poll: “Clubs try to get as much money back as possible. My club has never been so busy and only offered five minutes between tee times – oversubscribed. “

Five minutes between tee times leave the golfer feeling overwhelmed, rushed and – especially for newcomers – uncomfortable.

While we’ve looked at the increase in membership fees, please keep in mind that not all clubs have chosen this path.

Many have put the interests of their members first and for that we applaud those who do so. It has never been more important to keep membership fees and staff, as well as the recognized and valued clubs that are sure to thrive in the future.

Comment on the golf shake poll: “Thanks to the additional income from many more new members, the long overdue additional financial profit is pumped back into the course.”

If you are reading this article and are thinking about joining a golf club or not, please do some research on the club you selected.

Try to understand if they are a community hub: do they have positive social aspects? Is there excellent communication between management and members? Will money be reinvested in the facilities?

When you find that the answer to these basic questions is encouraging, you can rest assured that you have made the right decision, not only to improve and continue enjoying your golf game, but also to invest and secure the future of golf.

Overall, it can be argued that increased membership fees are justified. However, it depends on how these clubs deal with the increased costs.

If money is reinvested, it is justified. If not, it’s hard to agree with the exponential fees some clubs are currently charging.

Related content

There is more to golf than just being a golf club member

The social benefits of golf are becoming increasingly attractive

What happens to your golf club membership?

What does the future hold for nomadic golfers?


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