Letter of the month
Last month’s Page 5 column (The membership model is (nearly) dead) elicited a massive response from readers. From social golfers, to club golfers to GMs and professionals, our inbox and website were overflowing with your letters — nearly all of you in agreement that the traditional membership model is outdated and in need of change. Here are some of your comments: YOUR thoughts on restricted membership are interesting and should be discussed by club boards. However, for restricted memberships to work equitably there need to be changes at the administration level of our game.
The problem I have with restricted membership is that there are people who take advantage. They pay reduced fees for 5-day (Mon to Fri) membership at one club and then play in club competitions as a visitor at neighbouring clubs on the weekend.
This can be addressed if the Golf Link Software is changed so restricted membership means exactly that. If a person is a 5-day member of a club then Golf Link should reject their handicap enquiry to play anywhere on a weekend.
Junior membership should be kept to a minimum of affiliation fees only. We need to encourage today’s youth to play a game that is not only fun, but provides special qualities that can have a powerful and lasting Have you got something to say? Then tell us! Write to us via email at email@example.com or mail a letter to: The Editor, Inside Golf, PO Box
360 Nunawading, Vic 3131. Tell an interesting story or something funny about golf and you could WIN a Smoothy Compact buggy valued at RRP$230! WHEN discussing options of joining a golf club, the joining fee is always an issue. In Sydney, the joining fee is often double the annual fee, or more. Just on this basis, the current membership model is dead. It is difficult to justify such large joining fees unless you can commit to being a member of the club for 5 or 10 years. However, how can you predict where you will be in 10 years? These days the average time staying at a residence is 7 years, your job and area may change.
More flexibility and more options are now required for golf membership. Rodney Forrester, via our website WHY aren’t all golf clubs reciprocal with each other, especially for competition? This could be an added incentive for players to join a golf club. I realise that there are arguments against this proposal but there are solutions to issues such as small clubs battling to maintain fields, variations impact on young people’s self-image, personal development and confidence.
Also, I think the rules of amateur status need revising. Anyone winning a club voucher in any golf competition should be able to use these vouchers at membership renewal time to pay all or part of the annual subscription.
I agree that the reciprocal club arrangement should be encouraged. Clubs should have reciprocal rights for their members at as many clubs as possible throughout Australia. It is only a matter of clubs writing to one another and making the arrangements.
The suggestions of restricted membership / family membership / membership credits / expanding reciprocal rights are all commendable but it won’t work unless we stop the “smarties” from taking advantage of the system. Dave Parkinson, via email in the status of clubs and maintaining access for members of popular clubs to competitions in their own club.
The broadening of reciprocal rights is especially important for golfers who travel regularly. With the average age of golfers increasing, and especially so for retirees, it is important that they be encouraged to maintain club membership. Brian, via our website YOU are so right about clubs stuck in the mud. Been a member of clubs all my life. I am a 5-day member (should be called a 1-day member between corporate days and ‘this day’ and ‘that day’). The only point of a membership is being able to play more than once a week. There are many great public access courses out there now, we’re spoiled for choice. So from now on I will just pay as I go and I’m sure I will be well in front. Mark, via our website I RECENTLY changed clubs in Canberra. It was not about the cost of the membership, it was more about how the club treated its current members. My new club is very friendly, has cold beer and, most importantly to me, is open to suggestions on how to improve the club and get more people involved.
For example: a guy on secondment from Victoria wanted to join a club here in Canberra for a three month period. As he was a keen golfer, he wanted to play at least every Saturday in the competition. He researched the different clubs trying to get a good deal and a three month membership. As you said in your article, “clubs are stodgy and archaic” in their approach.
I contacted my club manager and explained the situation. The manager said it was an interesting aspect of membership which they had never before addressed. To cut a long story short, the guy from Victoria got his three month membership, at a good price and, is very pleased with the treatment he received.
I think this is the type of “forward and progressive” thinking you are alluding to in your article. Is the membership model of yesteryear dead? Not yet. But unless clubs can think outside the box and adapt to differing requirements then, death is not too far away for some clubs. Wazza Gray, via email IT is time that ALL Clubs look into the future at affordable memberships that will increase numbers within your club. It is far better to have more people on the course and within the clubhouse than to have none.
I l ive in the SE Qld, and I have the opportunity of playing on many courses within a 200km radius, but what these clubs are asking to pay is over my budget.
Suggestion: If I am a current member of a club, then would it not be in the best interest of other clubs to offer to me a game at members guests rates?
I usually play in a group of 2 or 4, so that would mean that the club would gain around $60 for course play ,plus buggies, along with takings in the clubhouse – bar / food etc.
Also there are many “Grey Nomads” who are on the road for many months at a time —wouldn’t it be nice to offer them games at members guest prices? Whilst these people may be financially better than most, they are still watching their budget whilst on the road.
The more players we can get onto the golf courses, the better off golf clubs will be. Karen, via our website