Got a burning golf question or need to get something off your chest. Drop Women & Golf Editor Emma Ballard an email to get the conversation started.

Recently, I heard from a Women & Golf reader who believes that membership categories and structures need to change to bring golf clubs in line with all aspects of life, instead of risking losing money and members.

Dear Emma,

Golf needs to change, in a way you may not have heard mention before.

Golf clubs need to rethink their membership categories to bring them up to speed in today’s world, before becoming at risk of being ‘elitist’ and potentially losing money & members.

Most clubs offer age rated memberships which are not needed or helpful in gaining members. Neither are they helpful in encouraging modern day people to take up the game.

Having spoken about this with my father (a senior golfer), and with a variety of members (including retired/working/mid twenties/forty something etc), clubs need to offer different types of memberships. 

I am a blue collar worker & due to health issues I can only play through the summer months. Fortunately the club I now have a membership at does indeed offer a Summer membership. Most do not. 

It has also been asked why does age come into account on memberships? Surely once of an age whereby employment/careers are underway should mean an adult membership. Whether a person of 25 or 45yrs of age- all adult memberships (until retirement age) should pay the same. 

A 23-year-old can be earning more per annum than a 60-year-old. So unless you’re fortunate enough to be in earning excess of £30000 per annum you are on the back burner as far as full membership is concerned. Is this not elitism? 

Drop the exhaustive list of age categories from 25yrs+ it’s a full membership until retirement/senior age. Bring in ‘term’ memberships such as six month, nine month & 12 months. The increase in payments from the younger adults will assist in covering the loss of income on say a nine month membership vs 12 month. There will also be a lot more people able to join on a six or nine month membership than most imagine. 

Understandably there will be those that question if a club can survive throughout the winter months with many members not taking a full 12 month subscription, however take into consideration the laying off of seasonal staff, the shorter working hours & there should be no reason why they can’t. Let’s face it we are not known for our ‘sunny’ winters are we! Courses could also consider that whilst less busy there would be more opportunity for work to be carried out without interference. 

Those that don’t already can offer their food offering to non members during the winter months especially. 

I know many clubs offer a points based system which is great for those taking up the sport & considering progressing their membership, the fact that a points membership does not allow full entry to all club competitions has ensured that the system is only suitable for beginners. 

Many society golfers would take up memberships if there were such options as the Summer Memberships available at all clubs. 

The economy is not going to get better anytime soon & the Covid golf boom is starting to turn into an exit. 

Thank you to this reader, who would like to remain anonymous for getting in touch. I agree with her on many of the points with the same reservation that many would have around the winter months. Do you think that if golf clubs moved to this model (term memberships), they may then up their subscriptions to compensate for the drop off over winter? Or would the fact that a more even pay structure, by getting rid of age categories, would be able to balance the books?

Flexibility in memberships is definitely a topic that needs to be talked about more. There seems to have been a shift in recent years to accommodate golfers, both male and female, who do not have the time or the want to commit financially to a full membership.

I look forward to hearing about other readers' experiences and what they feel the best membership structure would be.


Have you had to deal with a similar situation and would be willing to give some advice? Join the discussion here or email [email protected]

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I often get emails from readers who want to raise questions or have opinions on certain topics and although I do aim to reply to all the emails, I don't always have the answers straight away.

It makes me think of the Letters section that featured in our print magazine. A place to air your views, comment on the latest controversy or celebrate a successful development at your golf club.

With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to start sharing some of your thoughts and opinions so that we can gather a greater understanding and viewpoint on the hot topics of the moment.

All you need to do is drop me an email [email protected] and we will share with the rest of the readership.

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