Cost Of Golf To Continue To Rise – Survey Confirms
The cost of golf club memberships and gambling is rising in the UK – and it threatens to reduce the increased attendance that has been seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, a new survey has found.
The 2022/23 Member and Owner Golf Survey, published by chartered accountants Hillier Hopkins LLP, offers a comprehensive view of the matter, with figures proving that it is becoming increasingly expensive to play the sport.
The survey finds membership fees for regular club members typically ranged between £1,000 and £1,612 in 2022. However, 36% of clubs now charge more than the latter figure, compared to just 29% in 2021. If you plan to sit back and hope the fees go down, that might not be wise either. According to the survey, a large majority of clubs (92%) plan to increase their dues this year. In comparison, only 80% did so in 2021, compared to just 61% in 2020.
Overall, the average fee increase will be around 7%, although in some cases it could reach a worryingly high 15%. In contrast, in 2021, the average fee increase was a more manageable 4%.
Compression of participants does not stop there either. Entrance fees are also becoming more prevalent, with 61% of clubs saying they planned to charge one in 2022, up 8% from the previous year.
Meanwhile, even 7% of clubs that don’t charge the fee now say they plan to do so in the future. Charges at golf clubs that have already implemented it average £1,700, although this is in a wide range of between £100 and £5,000. At least on this issue there is welcome relief for players with tighter budgets, however – more clubs are allowing people to pay fees in installments over anywhere between one and five years, most people taking the two-year option.
If you can afford to join a club, the good news for those wanting to get started is that the percentage of clubs with a waiting list and their length has decreased. Just over half of clubs, or 52%, have a waiting list, up from 60% in 2021, but this is still higher than in previous years. In the meantime, if you have to sit on a waiting list, you shouldn’t be on it for as long as 2021. In 2022, clubs reported an average of 61 people on their lists, up from 90 the year before. .
Of course, while this may get you on the course a bit quicker than before, it’s not such a good sign for clubs, as it could be an early indication that post-Covid interest in the play is starting to falter, with the report warning that ‘maintaining demand will be a key objective for clubs over the next few years’.
There is also more concerning news for the clubs. Even though they have increased green fees, half of which now earn between £60,000 and £140,000 a year, the cost of maintaining clubhouses is higher, which has risen from an average of £56,000 in 2021 to £70,000 in 2022. Staff salaries have also increased over this period from £154,000 to £198,000.
After a tough few years in many areas of society, a getaway to the golf course has given a lot of people a boost. However, with rising costs in many sectors, it is clear that golf is far from immune.
It is to be hoped that the benefits of increased participation in recent years will not be forgotten by either clubs or players. Hopefully in 2023 the challenge of keeping clubs thriving with players able to continue enjoying the game will be met – without needing to break the bank to do so.