Ireland a Covid-19 pandemic case study for membership-based golf clubs

Courtesy: Old Head Golf Links

As India is reeling under the Covid-19 blast, largest in the world being defined as the second wave, golf clubs in the Republic of Ireland are poised to reopen. The pandemic though has left the clubs with an unprecedented challenge of retaining their members while also ticking off the red from their balance sheets.

The members, who according to an Irish Times report could not play for 209 days in the past 14 months, will be expecting some consideration and compensation for the fee paid for 2020. The clubs’ dilemma is to retain them and also have enough funds for maintaining the course and operations. No cost cutting would suffice as managing the course itself amounts for almost 50% of the annual budget.

The strategy adopted by different clubs in Ireland can be a case study for the rest of the world.

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The year after the pandemic is a challenging one for the golf clubs for sustaining their revenues while also retaining the members. In Ireland clubs are making offerings to win back the members.

There are different, albeit, innovative incentives. According to the Irish Times, Mount Juliet has discounted two months off their renewal fee while Arklow and Strandhill are renewing members three months off. Castleknock, Corballis and Elmgreen – all operated by Carr Golf – have provided 13 months’ membership for the price of 12. Hollywood Lakes’ members get 13 months membership and a 20 per cent price reduction on renewal.

Greencastle Golf Club while charging full fee for this year is offering 10% discount credit for the subsequent renewal. In south, Spanish Point gave a 15 per cent discount to all members for renewal by March 31.

East Clare, adopting an innovative approach, has changed the January-December subscription cycle to April-March.

In Cork, Fota Island have reportedly credited all renewing full members with €200 for the bar and restaurant bills. In the North, Scrabo, Clandeboyne and Kirkistown have joined together to offer members a three-day competition across all three courses in June for a fee of just £50.

Despite all this, clubs strongly fear that the retention figures in the long-term may not match the boom seen last year, particularly at smaller rural clubs.

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