It sounds an obvious answer to the game's 'younger golfer' problems, but is it really? Jeremy Ellwood thinks so, while Fergus Bisset has his doubts…

Yes

For many years the supply and demand equation was loaded so much in favour of golf clubs, they didn’t have to worry too much about membership quotas – when members moved away or died they simply called up the next ones from an eager waiting list.

But that dynamic has shifted, drastically in some instances, and many clubs are now having to work much harder to fill places and balance the books.

Many have found that while they still have older members in abundance, the next generation is conspicuous by its absence as people’s work/life and family/golf balances have changed along with their financial priorities.

Many time- or cash-strapped twenty and thirty-somethings simply can’t justify paying full whack for the amount of golf they know they’re likely to play.

But these are the very golfers clubs need to attract or hold onto, as reaching the point where virtually the whole membership is 55+ will leave clubs very vulnerable in the years ahead.

Rather than simply waving them goodbye intransigently, surely it’s better to seek to hold on to the younger golfer via scaled fees that make membership a viable option as they try to keep playing through the financial and time pressures of their early working or married lives.

Yes, the thought of someone else paying less than you for the same thing may grate, but the wider picture is surely a greater concern.

Reducing fees to attract the twenty- and thirty-somethings may go against the grain for some, but it is the lesser of two evils in the ongoing battle to safeguard the future of many golf clubs?

Will he still be able to afford to play when he reaches his young adult years?

Will he still be able to afford to play when he reaches his young adult years?

No

Golf clubs across the UK must be increasingly creative and flexible in order to retain and attract members, but discriminating on the grounds of age should not be one of the options.

It’s simply not fair to offer a cheaper subscription to any adult golfer just because his or her age falls within a certain bracket.

Clubs should look to offer packages that could be attractive to prospective members of all ages. Five-day memberships might appeal to golfers who are retired, self-employed or studying.

Memberships allowing a maximum number of rounds per year might suit those with limited golfing opportunities due to work and/or family commitments.

If a club is struggling to attract younger members, they should look at what they are offering them rather than how much they’re charging.

Many young people are put off by draconian rules and an ‘old school’ mind-set. Clubs must move with the times in terms of their attitude as much as their product to draw in new members.

It might be argued that younger adults need the financial assistance as they start to make their way in the world.

But it’s impossible to generalise. Yes, some young adults have student debts, and yes, some older adults are rolling in it.

But there are also young adults with no dependants and large disposable incomes, just as there are older people with families to support, mortgages to pay and not a pound to spare at the end of the month.

Campaigners have fought through the centuries to establish equality in this country and the process is ongoing.

To favour or discriminate against any section of society because of race, sex, religion or, in this case, age, is a step in the wrong direction.

  • Andrew Crossley

    By offering a reduced green fee to 30 and below is a good idea. If you are able to get this age range into golf you will have them for the next 30 – 40 years paying the full amount. Not only that, they are at the age where they are having children and getting them into golf, this will only help secure the game for the future.

    As for the older members the majority are close to or already retired. allowing them to have access to the golf course 24-7 whilst the younger members have to go into work. For those members that are within the age gap are usually in senior roles within their careers to be able to afford green fees.

    I feel it is in the best interest for clubs to accommodate younger members as that is where the future of the game is.

  • Yeti owner

    It is possible to do it without being discriminatory, if you limit access to “College Holidays” and the like.

    We need more youngsters to take up the game, but at the same time it must not be at the cost of existing members.

    It is not impossible to come up with a membership deal that can be tailored to particular classes of members.

    Perhaps create a menu of “access rights” that pepole can choose from. Shouldn’t be that hard for clubs to manage.