Where Have All The Members Gone

The golf industry is changing rapidly. During the late 90s golf courses couldn’t be built fast enough to meet the demand of golfers. Little more than a decade later we have a surplus of golf courses with many forced to close their doors. It is well documented that

rounds played across America are down; fewer juniors are taking up the game, the number of women playing is down, and our seniors and core golfers are playing less. The dramatic change can be attributed to overbuilding, a poor economy, an aging population, and a change in the family institution. All this adds up to a diminishing golfing membership for many clubs.

PGA Professionals and clubs across America are finding creative ways to maintain and attract new members. The PGA of America has introduced an initiative called Golf 2.0. “Golf 2.0. brings our industry a long-range strategic plan to substantially increase participation in the game.” They are providing golf professionals and clubs with strategic initiatives to increase the number of golfers, the number of rounds played and generate more revenue. Many clubs are now looking beyond the traditional membership offerings and creating a menu of services to suit a variety of customers. One such club, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain has reduced their public membership and daily golf fees, is offering limited memberships for their residents, and has rated their forward tees for men. Another club, Oro Valley CC, offers summer reciprocal programs with other area clubs to provide an added benefit to membership.

While there are many ways to attract and maintain memberships, one thing for certain is that continuing to do business as we have in the past won’t work in the future. We are appreciative of the golfers we have playing, and want to be sure we can provide value and benefits through our programs. Junior, seasonal and weekend memberships require less financial commitment, while short-courses and new ways to play, such as SNAG Golf require less time and skill in hopes of attracting and keeping golfers “in the game.”

  1. Mike Stoltz, 01 December, 2013

    The article above highlights several reasons for the shrinking of the game of golf, but fails to mention a core reason.

    The PGA of America was founded to protect the golf profession, not grow the game of golf.

    There are several other C-3 or C-6 tax organizations that do that, grow the game of golf.

    Corporate America invaded the PGA of America in the 1990’s, changing the PGA purpose and constitution.

    The entrepreneur golf professional who owned the golf shop, etc, was basically eliminated and “corporations” started leasing multiple golf facilities.

    This “happening” turned the “golf professional position” basically into clerks, eliminating the motivation to promote the game from a basic survival/financial philospophy of a hands on, self invested, entrepreneur.

    The PGA has become a “revolving door” for members and very few golf positions exist that offer competitive wages for a like discipline/talent that is needed to promote and operate a golf facility.

    The greed of Corporate America, in 20 short years, acted as a self destructing factor in the growth of the game of golf, eliminating the entrepreneur, self promoter in the game of golf.

    Mike Stoltz, PGA Life Member

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