The churn factor, it’s a fact of life for golf clubs

By Paul Gueorgieff
Editor, Golfer Pacific NZ

The annual subscription fees at my golf club are due. It must be the time all golf club managers hate.
Because this is the time when resignations from members begin to roll in. It’s the time when members start asking themselves are they getting value for money.
So what’s value?
Most players will add up the number of times they play in a year and divide it into the annual subscription fee. That will decide value, in their minds.
That’s far too simplistic in my mind. If we all did that sum we would all come to the conclusion that we should join the cheapest golf club in the region.
But we don’t all join the cheapest golf club in the region. And that’s because of a variety of reasons.
First and foremost will be the perception that the cheapest golf club in the region has a golf course that is cheapest in terms of quality. That may be accurate in many cases but the club will still have it’s passionate members who will tell you there is nothing wrong with their course.
I am happy with members defending their courses but I always look at our interclub competition for the real answers. When we play the so-called low grade courses we get 10 reluctant players, including myself. When we play the so-called top-grade course, we get 10 willing players, including myself.
A second reason why someone might or might not join a club is the condition of the clubhouse. I believe the state of a clubhouse may have some bearing on membership but it is far from everything.
I remember playing a course in South Australia some years ago. It had a magnificent clubhouse that would have cost millions of dollars to build. But the condition of the golf course was so poor that two-club length placing was allowed. It made me think the money would have been better spent on the golf course rather than the clubhouse.
Clubhouses and their facilities need to be kept up to a reasonable standard but they don’t have to be mansions.
A third reason for joining a club will be proximity. If the course is out of the way there will have to be a very good reason to become a member. That will usually be a very cheap price or a very good course.
But there is probably no one reason for a way to retain members. Members will come and go according to their own circumstances. Our club manager refers to it as the churn factor.
I believe it is a combination of factors that help retain membership numbers. They are a well-groomed course, good greens, up to standard clubhouse facilities, an inviting pro shop, an enthusiastic teaching professional or two, decent practice facilities, plenty of events for members, friendly staff and a willingness to stage major events. The latter point helps develop perception and perception is everything.
I have renewed my subscription.

Sarah HeadComment