A quick answer to that is, “No!”. No matter how much the market is changing, the great majority of golf clubs – around the world and very certainly here in New Zealand – don’t go out of their way to make the casual (aka “non-affiliated”) golfer feel as through he or she is a valued customer. Sadly, too many clubs are locked into traditional “membership first” models that are becoming increasingly out of date.
Today’s younger golfer generally doesn’t share the club-loyalty traits of older generations. Their love of the game is just as strong, but they prefer variety and the ability to challenge themselves in different golfing environments. Sure, one day they may well become members of a golf club but right now their priorities lie elsewhere, as they form relationships, start families, travel and pursue other sporting/leisure activities.
A “traditional” golf club – and there are a lot of them out there = will shrug and say “well, when they’re ready to join us, we’ll welcome them.”. They’ll continue to trumpet the values of full membership and man the ramparts against the invasion of the casuals. Which is, to be blunt, a bit short-sighted.
The reality is that, in New Zealand, nearer 75% of those who claim to play golf do not belong to golf clubs. Yet the amount they spend on golf is way beyond just “significant”.
Here at Mangawhai, we see casual golfers, non-affiliates, whatever you want to call them as the lifeblood of our future game. We’ve always welcomed greenfee players – and now we’ve taken a giant step further toward embracing this side of the game via our new Unbeatable Golf programme. Simplistically, this programme, with its own stand-alone website, offers value-added packages for golf at Mangawhai. The aim is to say, “hey, we don’t care if you belong to the great family of club golfers or if you just enjoy a knock-around with your mates – you’re welcome here!”.
And this is a just a start. We have a new initiative planned which addresses the membership issue from the viewpoint of the casual golfer, giving this group what they want as opposed to what golf clbs think they should have. More details soon … and it will be a huge step ahead for golfers everywhere!