Topgolf Dubai at the Emirates Golf Club
Image source: Virendra Saklani / Gulf News
For those readers who have been to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates for some time, it is noteworthy how the personality of most golf clubs in the region, and the United Arab Emirates in particular, has changed recently.
It wasn’t long ago that a golf club was perceived as being exclusive to members. It now appears across the board, in addition to changing attitudes around the world, that all golfers, non-golfers, members (as always) or others are now drawn to golf clubs and have a desire to “try golf”.
It appears that this shift in perception has been accelerated by Covid-19 in the UAE, with the apparent lack of international travel for residents in the past 18 months or so and the requirement for golf clubs to attract new business, as well as demand from new golfers and others from the local community. As discussed in other recent articles, it appears that international golf is hopefully returning along with corporate golf in the UAE.
Jones The Grocer and Carine were great success stories at the Emirates Golf Club, along with the Topgolf Dubai effect that drew so many young and old, male and female of all nationalities to the facility who might not traditionally have considered a golf club or golf facility as a place to go out, F&B or for entertainment through golf next to F&B and vice versa.
This is reflected across the United Arab Emirates, including Abu Dhabi with the promotion of group golf tuition programs for beginners as well as the new InRange hi-tech facility at Abu Dhabi City Golf Club.
A golf club and range without high tech on-course or off-course range technology is now likely to be the exception and all golf clubs will see this as the new norm.
With social media having a significant reach well beyond members of golf clubs and just golfers, this is sure to be the future of the game in Dubai and the UAE. The success of Dubai Golf’s Viya app and other loyalty card models proves this.
Golf seems to have had a growing interest everywhere as so many people are now trying the game in various forms.
However, the financial anchor of any golf club, with the exception of the pay-and-play models, is the loyal membership that pays their annual membership dues.
For golf clubs, strong membership creates financial stability and confidence that annual budgets can be met, and enables investments and short and long-term planning for the entire club.
So many golf clubs in the UAE are now looking for the non-member business and trying to follow the EGC model, especially in the F&B space, be it the Pangolin at The Els Club, Qube at The Track, Maison Mathis at both Al Hamra Golf Club in Ras Al Khaimah and Arabian Ranches, Phileas Fogg’s in Montgomerie and many others whether managed internally, franchised or operated by third parties.
The facilities of all golf clubs are always of the highest standard and the location is usually excellent for both local residents and hotels.
However, the balance between membership privileges over visitor and non-member businesses is always the greatest challenge for any golf club management team.