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Are Private Clubs to blame for the decline in golf?

Are Private Clubs to blame for the decline in golf?

Are Private Clubs to blame for the decline in golf?

Hi, I’m Mel Sole, Director of Instruction at the Mel Sole Golf School, headquartered at Pawleys Plantation Golf and Country Club in Pawleys Island, SC.  We conduct 1, 2, and 3-day golf schools, hourly golf lessons, and senior golf schools—any golf instruction program your heart desires. Give us a call at 800-624-4653 or 843-237-4993.  We will be happy to book a commuter school or a package that contains accommodations, golf, and golf school.

Golf Blog by the Mel Sole Golf School.

For my American readers, please note, this relates more to my United Kingdom, South African, and European readers.  We have many public courses in America that we can take advantage of.

Member at a Private Club.

As a young golfer, I was lucky enough that my dad was a country club member.  I came to enjoy going there to use the club’s facilities like the pool and picnic area.  Shortly thereafter, I began to play golf.  At that time, a member could walk up to the first tee, put a tee in the ground, and off they went.  No tee times and no crowds.  I’m sure that is all different now.  But I still think there are advantages of being a club member where most other members know you.  The Pro Shop staff always greets you by name in the Pro Shop, and you can attend member functions and club competitions.

So when I read that most country clubs in the UK are struggling, I wonder why the benefits are so great.  But it all boils down to one thing – money.  I think private country clubs, for the most part, have priced themselves out of business.  Yes, there will still be “top drawer” clubs with very wealthy members who are prepared to pay for the luxury of not having to battle crowds and 5-hour rounds. But surely there must be some middle ground where a club can provide these luxuries less than luxury price.

Here James Andrews, a golf instructor in the UK, poses this interesting question. Are Private Clubs to Blame for the Current Decline in Memberships?

Golf has become very confused, and the golfing community is losing out.

I believe there is room and need for ‘Private’ golf clubs that are private.
Private should mean minimal societies, no weddings, restricted green fees (handicap only), a ‘Golf Club’ for its members not a commercial enterprise. They should be run by the members, for the members.

Are wedding enough of a money maker to inconvenience the members?

Does a golf club need the facility to run a wedding? Should it? Does this not detract from the main event, golf?

What food do members want? How much do they want to pay for it? This is so subjective but most members just want a wholesome dish at a ‘members’ price.

Does dining have to be this sophisticated, or could it be a little more casual?

The ever increasing need to expand and develop, to stay ahead of the competition, to raise the clubs profile to the flattered heights of the chairman pushes costs up and for what purpose?

The most profitable club. (cheapest)

The most profitable club would not have a club house, a pro shop, huge changing rooms, it would be a shed with a starter offering teas and coffees and a bacon roll. The question is would you join this club?

This is a direct result of private golf clubs looking for money to feed the beast of growth. Not so long ago it was nearly impossible to play a private golf club without a handicap certificate. To obtain a handicap you have two choices, take lessons with your local pro who would guide you through the learning process and slowly integrate you to the club or find your local pay and pay club and start the process there.

The death of the pay and play golf courses.

Pay and play facilities cost less, and play is slower.  5-6 hour rounds were a definite possibly playing on a Sunday morning behind the wrong group.

Now we have no pay and play courses, where do theses golfers go? The protection private clubs had insisting on a handicap has gone and now members are complaining of slow rounds and membership loyalty has gone.

Should private clubs close their doors to visitors again? Bring back the ethos of a private members club which was about supporting your club, your pro and an honor to be part of.  Reintroduce a joining fee but drop membership costs with the reduction in running costs.  Let the pay and play clubs flourish again to attract golfers into the sport again.

People are calling for change.  But is bringing back the past more important?

Please post your comments below on what you think needs to be done to make golf enjoyable yet affordable.

Source: James Andrews  Mel Sole Golf School.

Pictures:  Joe Loong  Pleasant Valley Country Club  Dan Perry   Alex Hooker

Thanks for reading – Are Private Clubs to blame for the decline in golf? 

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