Will Introducing a Winter Golf Membership Increase Revenue for Your Club? 

Playing golf in the rain | PlayMoreGolf | Flexible Membership
By Brad Chard - 24/01/24

How your golf club can increase revenue in the winter

Now is typically the time of year where some golf clubs start to consider membership offers or a winter golf membership at a reduced rate. However, is this really the best way to encourage golfers to play at their club in the winter?

What if there are other solutions that means your membership categories could run side-by-side seamlessly for 12 months of the year without the need to offer a discount?  How do members feel when they see membership discounts being advertised.  I know as a former Golf Club General Manager myself, that this was always a sticky subject with members.

Does discounting work with membership?

The topic of discounting is an interesting one as we live in a world where offers and discounts are in our everyday lives. The subject of winter golf membership offers is one that we discuss with many partner clubs at this time of year. We tend to find, based on feedback from our partners, that the reason for introducing a winter golf membership is based on two factors.

  1. The rate in which new joiners have joined during the main golfing season may not have been at the rate which the club anticipated, and therefore clubs are seeking to increase membership numbers.
  2. Golf Clubs are concerned about their next membership renewal and are looking at ways to mitigate risk of members not renewing.

All sound logic, right?

At PlayMoreGolf, we encourage partner clubs to look at their membership model and offer categories that cater for the unique needs of the golfer. Also, at a price point that meets that golfer needs. We have spoken in previous webinars about the importance of a membership strategy to guide your club. Visit our YouTube Page where you can find many interesting and educational pieces of content

Are winter golf memberships a short-term fix for golf clubs?

Winter golf membership may be great for revenue in those quiet periods. It means the golf club receives the income upfront, rather than rely on the unpredictable green fee income.

But how many members that join in the winter, elect to renew when your main membership renewal period comes around? What do they do when they are faced with the full price of a membership category? Do you measure this as a golf club and what does the data to tell you?

From the data that we have looked at, it shows there is a much lower retention rate from those members that join over the winter months when it comes to renewing for the year ahead. Why is that? Principally because there is a significant price difference between the winter membership and that of the full membership. Unfortunately, in many cases, the golfer will struggle to justify this cost increase.

Whilst the spike in winter revenue may seem appealing, many golf clubs will say it is increased revenue at a time where that might not have been possible. Could we argue that this is a short-term fix? Do we consider the implications that this may have on your five- and seven-day members.  What are the alternatives?

Why a flexible membership might be the solution to your golf club

We know that at this time of year, there is pressure on a golf clubs tee sheet. They are normally heightened on the basis that there are less available tee times to play during the day. To offer unlimited golf on a winter Golf membership when the pressure on the tee sheet is already heightened would seem a little counterintuitive.

A points-based flexible membership on the other hand can provide clubs with controls.

Through the points matrix, clubs can gain more control. You can help control when you would like the flexible member to play and how often you would like them to play. How?

Designing points matrix in the winter months that encourages play at times when your tee sheet starts to see lower volumes.

It does not clash with your five or seven day members playing habits. A points-based flexible member will purchase a membership for a 12 month period. This means you can generate more upfront revenue, achieve your objectives of growing winter revenue, maintain a steady renewal rate. All without the need to discount.

Seasonal changes to your points matrix mean you can reflect demand in the summer versus winter. When it comes to retention, data suggests within their first year, flexible members will renew at north of 80% only dropping slightly into year two at 75%.

Points-based membership solutions, not only drives revenue for 12 months of a year but focuses the utilisation of your tea sheet into the quieter times.

What’s best, winter golf membership or flexible membership?

This article has not been written to show that the points-based membership is the only solution. Alternatively, it is not to say that a winter golf membership offering unlimited golf for a set period is not the right solution for your club.

Moreover, it has been written to show there are other options out there. It is important golf clubs consider the pros and cons of each option before introducing and new category or new revenue stream into the golf club.

Something that can sometimes appear an ‘easy option’ may not always be the best option.

Interested in learning more about a points-based membership solution and how you could structure it for your golf club? Please contact us on [email protected]