For your private golf club to thrive now and into the future, you need to consider how you are catering to the younger player demographic — those under 40.

At present time, the average age of members at private golf courses is 58-60 years old. By opening up your marketing to welcome a younger golfer membership base, you will set your club apart as modern and innovative, ensuring longevity.

There are many things young golfers ask themselves when they consider signing up for a club membership. Younger players don’t play the way members historically have. In general, there is less time to play, as weekends are spent with more focus on family time. When golf was a bigger source of leisure, it may have made more sense to invest in a membership. A country club membership provided status, connections, and pleasure. The “old school” ways, time-honoured traditions valued by boomer players, simply aren’t the reality for next-generation golfers. 

Membership fees may also feel too high or even overpriced. 20- and 30-something golfers have less disposable income than boomers had, due to a number of socioeconomic factors. 

So, how can you welcome younger golfers to your club membership? We’ve broken out three major categories of strategies to examine. Things like cutting the initiation fee, requiring no long-term commitment, and doing away with strict course rules and dress codes are a great start.

1. YOUNGER GOLFER MEMBERSHIP FEE CONSIDERATIONS

Many golf clubs are deciding to lower or even eliminate the initiation fee for new younger golfer membership sign-ups. Similarly, you might create flexible payment options, such as allowing the initiation fee to be paid interest-free over a few years. 

Or, try out a subscription-based membership. Similar to a gym membership or a phone plan, members would be charged monthly, but contracted to a multiple-year commitment. Alternatively, sell 3-month memberships, or even “packaged memberships” with a set number of allotted games per season. 

Consider structuring your club with multiple member types, such as an intermediate membership that is made for this demographic (ie. ages 18-39). This tier of membership may come with certain restrictions, such as blacked-out tee time blocks or guest constraints. However, weighed with a reduced cost factor, younger golfers may find these terms very much worth it. 

Another way to make membership more enticing is to offer referral discounts. You might choose to reward multiple members, who have the desire to play together, for signing up. Maybe even give a new additional member a free round to welcome them to the club, and to their new regular foursome. 

Also, consider the fact these younger golfer memberships may soon become a family affair. You might sweeten the deal by offering special spousal or junior membership rates.

2. SPECIALIZE YOUR MARKETING & ADVERTISING 

Use your website and social media channels to your advantage and meet your potential new members where they are — online. 

Make it clear you’re looking to actively welcome new members to your club. Create a website landing page that caters to welcoming younger golfers, and clearly demonstrates the perks they’ll experience by being a club member.

Set up a social media ad to advertise a trial membership specifically for younger golfers. New prospects can tour the clubhouse, meet other members, play the course, and truly get a feel for what being a member would be like. Not to mention, you can decide whether they fit the culture of your club as well! It’s like a job interview; it can go both ways. 

If a younger, tech-savvy golfer is looking, they’ll find you!

3. FOSTER THE YOUNGER MEMBER EXPERIENCE

All golf operators know that experience is king. Ensuring your club always has a friendly, welcoming atmosphere will go a long way for both current-member retention as well as attracting new members. 

There is nothing like being a regular somewhere they know your name, your order, your playing preferences, you name it! This is true for younger, more up-and-coming golfers as well as the older demographic. Do consider the difference between male and female players as well. One study showed that women found a club’s social program as a key perk, while men valued tournaments and competitions, and handicapping options

In addition to the usual perks of membership — ease of getting tee times, enjoying club facilities, meeting new people, access to tournaments — you should personalize your golf experience to what your members positively respond to.

For the younger golf membership type specifically, you might block off exclusive tee times. Ensure your golf member management and tee-sheet platform can handle various restrictions such as these!

Speaking of technology, millennials expect mobile-friendly amenities. By offering a golf course mobile app, you give your members the freedom to book a tee time anywhere, anytime. They can also manage their membership from the convenience of their phones — even while on the course! 

Another strategy to become more attractive to younger members is to partner with other private or semi-private clubs to set up reciprocal course arrangement. This would allow your members to enjoy the facilities of another course, a perk exclusive to having a membership at your club.

golf club marketing SMS text message to golfer on course

You should also consider the power of your clubhouse food and beverage offering. Think about younger golfers’ habits and how they might differ from older members’ experience. Perhaps they are teeing off later so they can drink on the course, and therefore are more likely to stay after their round for a drink or a meal. (You may even be able to establish a more robust food & beverage minimum! This may not be an option for your club, however, as many have standardized the minimum across member types.) Beef up your beverage cart service, halfway house and post-round clubhouse food options to really make younger golfer membership worth the cost. 

Many country clubs provide a variety of social activities to their members. Younger members will see a club’s healthy event schedule as a great value-add for their membership sign-up. Tournaments, BBQs, concerts, fireworks shows, family-friendly events, charity gatherings and more will improve the overall member experience. Help them feel truly connected to the club they’re invested in, off the course as much as on it.

“Traditionally, golf has been a very … rule-heavy sport, not only with the game also with the culture in the clubhouse. I think we still have to respect the game and where we came from. We also have to look at the new individuals who are looking to take up golf and what their needs are.”

— From article “Golf’s private clubs drive to survive“,
CBC, 2012

CONCLUSION

Adding younger golfer membership to your club’s roster will inject new life into your facility and refresh the love of the game. The golf world has certainly changed in the face of the pandemic. You will likely attract all kinds of new golfers to purchase memberships: folks with a desire to challenge themselves, to find a home away from home, and with more flex work-from-anywhere time to play!

It’s time to cater to younger members. Make this one of your focus tactics as we head into the next golf season.