UK & Ireland lost 42,000 Members in 2011
Golf clubs in the UK and Ireland suffered a net loss of 42,700 members in 2011, according to a new survey.
The drop of 3.1 per cent from 2010 brings the number of club members in the British Isles down to 1,326,700, spread among 2,989 golf courses (a drop from over 3,000 in 2010). It is not known how many of the 42,700 have switched to pay-and-play golf and how many have given up the game completely.
The research also found that more than a third of golf clubs reacted to the loss of revenue by increasing prices rather than investing in marketing.
For Europe, the Golf Participation in Europe 2011 survey – produced by KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice, found that Sweden lost 21,000 registered golfers, a drop of 4.1 per cent, and Spain 9,700 (2.9 per cent).
Overall, the number of golfers in Europe fell for the first time since research began 25 years ago, although there was a small increase in the total number of courses in Europe last year (up 0.7 per cent to 6,740). The number of participants fell by one per cent to below 4.4 million. This means that the number of golfers has more than tripled since the mid-1980s, while the number of golf courses has doubled in the same period.
Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: “While the growth of golf started to slow down after 2005, last year was the first time there was an actual decrease in registered golfers. The decline can be attributed to two factors: the reduction in the number of golfers in some of Europe’s largest golf markets, especially the UK and Ireland, and the lack of dynamic growth in Europe’s emerging markets, specifically Eastern Europe and the south-east Mediterranean.”
Feedback from the survey also suggests golf courses across Europe are failing to respond appropriately to the challenging economic conditions, and may be losing customers as a result.
“Golf clubs need to proactively and effectively face up to the challenging economic climate to retain members or attract new golfers,” continued Andrea Sartori. “Based on our survey, rather than introducing youth and family programmes, and promotional packages, approximately 30 to 40 per cent of Europe’s operators and club managers actually increased prices in 2011. More than half of clubs have not invested in enhanced marketing – and many have not yet capitalised on the opportunities provided by online marketing and social media.”
Some of the reduced participation was counterbalanced by countries that experienced growth, including Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and the Czech Republic.
The survey highlighted that golf remains a male-dominated sport in Europe, with 65 per cent of all players being male, 25 per cent female and 10 per cent juniors. German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and the Netherlands remain flagship markets for female participation, with more than 30 per cent of golfers being women there.
“While much of the golf market stagnation in Europe may be attributed to the overall economic climate, continued support and investment in new programmes will be needed to sustain demand and generate further growth in the game, especially in mature and developed golf markets,” added Andrea Sartori.
Source - golf club management