12 things you need to run a successful Flexible Membership category

Golf club office team running a successful flexible membership category
By Matt Smith - 14/02/24

Article written by Club Sales & Club Support Manager Matthew Smith

The key to running a thriving Flexible Membership

Having a lifestyle membership, associate membership, flexible membership, whatever you want to call it, there is certainly a need for it at every golf club.


Because there is a massive market for golfers who do not have time to play every week. However, they want to feel part of a golf club and become a member.

This is a fantastic way to introduce golfers to the golf club by letting them “dip their toe” in the golf club and experience their culture. This can serve as a great pipeline for full memberships and help retain these members in danger of leaving the club completely.

We estimate 18% of clubs in GB have some form of flexible membership, only 18%! Why would this be so low when PlayMoreGolf service 12,000+ golfers alone?

It may be due to what is involved to run a successful “alternative” membership. So let us have a look at what golf clubs must do:

1. All yourself enough time

We have calculated that to run a flexible membership it takes 194 hours per year, or 24 full days per year on average. This is a lot of time to keep on top of a membership along with all the other categories. This will include managing the category, lead generation, marketing, creation of content, sales, retention, emails, social media management – have we missed anything!?

2. Ensure you have the staff and resources

Many golf clubs have limited staff, so many secretaries and managers must do more than the average manager. Having the resources to manage these categories is essential so the managers can focus on other aspects of the business.

3. Advertising budget

We all know if you want to attract new members, any members, golf clubs need to invest money to do this. Do you have in-house marketing capabilities, or would you be better using one of the excellent golf marketing agencies out there that specialise in lead generation? Does your golf club have the budget for these monthly ongoing costs or retainers?

4. Google keywords / PPC knowledge / Paid Media

When a prospect is searching for “golf membership in XXX” on Google, do you appear above your competitors? This is critical to receive the eyeballs your website needs to attract new members, but it is not easy. Is your website optimised? Are you appearing through the correct keywords? Are these the right ones to be using and are these even being searched? Do you use the keyword tool, and do you monitor this?

5. Creating content expertise

This is so important to be present and relevant to your target market. 82% of global internet traffic in 2022 came from video. Attracting new audiences and creating engaging content takes time, expertise and knowledge and is vital for growth at golf clubs.

6. Marketing knowledge

Marketing knowledge is essential to put plans together for the year ahead. When are you going to spend? Where are you spending your budget? Online or offline? Publications, local newspapers, or social media? Having a solid plan and being fluid is critical.

7. Who and how to target your prospects

Do you know your prospective members? Where are they living, searching, consuming content, and buying? Having a basic knowledge of this helps your marketing plan and makes your budget go further. Where are your prospective full members? Where are your prospective flexible members? If you know how to reach them, you will be ahead of many of your competitors.

8. Competitive analysis

What are your competitors doing? Having knowledge of what they are doing is important so you can be proactive instead of being reactive in your approach. Being ahead can make all the difference as to whether the prospect joins your club or your competitors.

9. Membership Lead generation focus

So, you have marketed the club, created content, the website is optimised and created a solid lead generation form; you now have leads coming through. What next? Following up. A few stats about sales:

  • 48% of salespeople do not follow up with a lead
  • 25% of salespeople make a second contact and stop
  • 12% of salespeople make a third contact and stop
  • 10% of sales are made on the 4th contract.
  • 80% of sales are made on the 5th to 12th contract
  • Lead generation and sales take time, resources, and resilience

10. Objection handling

Asking the right questions is important to uncover prospects’ needs, wants and objections.

  • Prepare and ensure you have all the facts about the prospect.
  • Listen and do not interrupt.
  • Understand their objections.
  • Validate their concerns and empathise.
  • Act on their objections and do not let them linger, overcome them, and move on.
  • Confirm to the customer if there is anything else you need to discuss.

11. Close the membership sale

Getting the member to sign on the dotted line and part with their hard-earned cash can be the hardest part. You have created the content, generated the lead, overcome their objections and still you do not have a new member. Closing the sale takes skill and patience.

12. Welcoming golf club

Ensuring the golf club, the members and staff welcome all new members to vital for longevity and loyalty. Creating a culture where the members feel comfortable, and part of the club, will determine the future of many members.

These are some of the basics required to create and maintain a flexible membership, and we have not even talked about the ongoing support and customer service required throughout the members’ time at the club.

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of what is needed, and as we know, there are plenty of potential flexible members out there wanting to join your club, but there just is not the category that suits their lifestyle and playing habits…yet.