Cost Of Golf To Continue To Rise – Survey Confirms
A new survey has found the cost of joining golf clubs and playing the game in the UK is rising – and this threatens to limit the increased participation seen during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 2022/23 Members and Proprietary Golf Clubs Survey, published by auditors Hillier Hopkins LLP, provides a comprehensive overview of the subject, with figures showing that the sport is becoming increasingly expensive to participate in.
The survey shows that membership fees for regular club members typically ranged from £1,000 to £1,612 in 2022. However, 36% of clubs are now charging more than the latter figure compared to just 29% in 2021. Hoping fees will come down again may not be advisable either. According to the survey, a large majority of clubs (92%) plan to increase their subscription fees this year. For comparison: in 2021 it was only 80%, in 2020 it was only 61%.
Overall, the average fee increase will be around 7%, although this could reach a worrying 15% in some cases. In contrast, the average fee increase in 2021 was a more manageable 4%.
The pressure on the participants does not end here either. Entry fees are also becoming more common, with 61% of clubs saying they had planned to charge a fee in 2022, an 8% increase from the previous year.
Meanwhile, as many as 7% of clubs not charging the fee now say they plan to do so in the future. Fees at golf clubs that have already implemented it average around £1,700, although this ranges widely from £100 to £5,000. On this issue at least, however, there is welcome relief for players on a tighter budget – more and more clubs are allowing people to pay the fees in installments of between one and five years, with most people taking the two-year option.
If you can afford to join a club, the good news for those keen to get started is that both the percentage of clubs with a waitlist and their length have gone down. Just over half of clubs, or 52%, have a waiting list, up from 60% in 2021, but that’s still higher than in previous years. In the meantime, if you have to be on a waiting list, don’t be on it as long as 2021. In 2022, clubs reported an average of 61 people on their lists, up from 90 the year before.
Whilst this allows them to get on the course a little quicker than before, it obviously doesn’t bode so well for clubs as it could be an early sign that interest in the game is waning post-Covid. with the report warning that “maintaining demand will be a key focus for clubs in the years to come”.
There is also news of immediate importance for clubs. Although they have charged higher green fees, with half now earning between £60,000 and £140,000 a year, clubhouse maintenance costs are higher, having risen from an average of £56,000 in 2021 to £70,000 in 2022. Clubhouse Staff wages also increased from £154,000 to £198,000 during this period.
After a few challenging years in many areas of society, escaping to the golf course has given many people a boost. However, with costs rising in many sectors, it is evident that golf is far from immune.
It is hoped that the benefits of increased participation in recent years will not be forgotten by either clubs or players. Hopefully 2023 will see the challenge of maintaining thriving clubs with players who can continue to enjoy the game – without breaking the bank.