6 Strategies To Grow Your Golf Club Membership


Are you looking to get more member signups at your golf club?

You are at the right place.

While sports have suffered during COVID, there are signs of recovery and there are several ways your club can encourage new member signups at your club.

In this article, we are going to cover 6 proven strategies and related suggestions that can improve membership enrolments at your golf club.

Today, there are over 3.80 billion Smartphone users worldwide, and in Australia there were already 18.6 million smartphones in 2017 with that number projected to hit 21.5 million by 2025. While golf might not be something you typically experience while attached to a phone, golf enthusiasts are definitely among the many users who spend an average of 3.07 hours per day on their phone.

With little effort and a smart digital presence, you can reach out to the people who are most interested to sign up for golf club memberships. If you work a bit more and leverage a smart promotional campaign, there are opportunities to connect and engage with younger generations and bring new members into the sport.

1. Understand Your Target Audience

Geographical barrier is one of the prime factors to consider. People prefer to join a local club that is near their home, but if your club is in an area that is frequented by travellers, then visitor memberships may be of value.

Another factor to consider is age. Keeping in mind your location, if the major demographic is ageing, the strategy should be very different to a region that has a large population of young people.

Check out our article on how to build a buyer persona and download the free buyer persona template here, although perhaps for a golf club it would be better called a member persona.

Hence, it is worth understanding who your targets are and reaching out with your membership offers. Depending on your club goals, you might want to consider these as part of your ideal member persona:

  • Millennials (young people)
  • Local residents who live within 25-30 kilometres from the golf course
  • Interested in outdoor sports
  • Families and friends of existing members

2. Use Social Media to Drive Traffic to Your Golf Club Website

Social media is one of the best places to find your target audience. Choosing the right platforms widens the scope of finding and engaging interested golfers. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok are among the leading popular social media websites to find and interact with your audience, especially millennials.

But how do you engage your audience on social media?

Here are some ideas that we’ve seen work:

Build Appealing Social Media Pages and Profiles

When you create a profile or a business page on social media, don’t forget to fill in all of your profile fields and profile images. This is important as they impact the first impression people have of you, if they click through to your page or profile.

Just as important, are the first posts that they see. Use photos and videos that fit with the platform and what people are using it for. Photo and video content gives visual impact to visitors and creates opportunity for interactions, and in the case of TikTok, video is absolutely essential.

For long-term engagement, post timely content on the platform that is most relevant for that type of content and the people you want to reach. For example, short, fun videos that fit the current trends for TikTok, perhaps current events, schedules and weather forecasts on Facebook, or live competition images on Instagram etc. Make sure the content is aligned with the people you want to attract.

Create Relevant, Informative Posts

Many clubs fail to engage their audience despite creating awesome pages and profiles on social media. One of the biggest mistakes is that they do not publish posts or updates regularly.

A beautifully created profile or page might look great, but it is much more likely to be found if you are posting quality content frequently. Engagement is an important metric, and content that gets more engagement encourages more engagement on your other content. Some of this is the content itself, and some of it is the frequency. If posts are few and far between, they are less likely to get engagement.

There are certain aspects to focus on when posting content on social media:

  • Try to always add a picture with text if the text is only short.
  • If you have long text to post, experiment both with and without images. Sometimes long text (eg 3 paragraphs or more) can work better on Facebook without an image.
  • Be the expert. Create informative posts about golf techniques, gear, accessories, tips, etc.
  • Post regularly to engage your audience.
  • Add a call-to-action (CTA) wherever practical – visit your website, sign-up for your newsletter, etc.
  • Post content that is relevant to the audience and the platform.

When you post content regularly that engages your audience, be it educational, entertaining, or informational, they are more likely to find you in the first place, as well as more likely to return, to visit your website, and potentially join your club.

Capture Prospect Details with Giveaways

There are so many ways to add value to your content and encourage engagement. One of these is giveaways. Consider things like free passes to an upcoming event, a free round of golf for a non-member, restaurant or bar credit, etc.

Just make sure that you comply with the rules of the platform you are using and that you are following any relevant laws in your state.

Promote Your Events

Events present a great opportunity to bring new members to your club. Post updates on all social media accounts about upcoming events and promote them regularly. Provide as much information as possible and if it makes sense, post updates live during the event. This is an excellent opportunity to invite interested people to see or participate, but it’s also a great way to put your club brand in front of people who are interested in the event but unable to actually attend.

3. Improve User Experience with a Custom Chatbot

Do I need a chatbot?

Many golf clubs do have doubts about using chatbots on their websites, but when they are done right, chatbots can significantly increase enquiries.

What if a visitor has queries on their commute to work or during your busiest time?

People are more reluctant to fill in an inquiry form and wait for a response. Nobody wants to keep waiting. A delay in response means you are losing opportunities. Chatbots with innovative technology that can guide your visitors through the information you need and even answer some of their questions can help to fill the gap.

Gone are the days of traditional chatbots. Most of them require a real human to respond to the queries. You can’t be there 24×7 to answer all of them instantly, golf clubs don’t have the resources for that.

These generalised chatbots look mechanical and often tell people that no one is available to help them right now anyway making them no different to a regular enquiry form.

Welcome to the era of a fully integrated Revenue Growth Automation tool like SharpSpring (by Constant Contact) that incorporates a feature-packed, modern, and customisable chatbot that actually matches your business needs.

How is the SharpSpring Chatbot different from others?

Most chatbots greet a customer with an introductory line- ‘Welcome to … how I can help you?’

Once you enter a query, if there is no one to take the chat further, the software is unable to offer any solution/ satisfactory answer and will direct visitors to fill out an enquiry form. Some chat systems show a notification that support is offline. They will simply ask you to enter a query and wait for an answer by email.

This is where the SharpSpring Bot really takes the centre stage.

As soon as the user visits your site, the bot can greet the visitor giving a warm welcome, just like a salesperson does at the retail shop. The SharpSpring bot is fully integrated with the rest of their Revenue Growth Automation tools so you can send automated follow-ups and can configure answers for the questions customers are most likely to ask. This combination of capabilities allows you to lead potential new members or perhaps event bookings through to providing their contact details or even signing up for membership.

We’ve seen that visitors to golf club websites are usually highly interested to get in touch and the response rates to chatbot messages that have an instant response are much higher than traditional enquiry forms. No one wants to wait for a reply after filling in a long web form or wait for someone to call them back at a time that might not be convenient.

SharpSpring Marketing Automation and CRM

If your golf club is not already using a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) to manage your enquiries, sales and member engagements, then you are missing out on opportunities to increase your revenue. The thing is, CRM systems can take a lot of work to get the hang of and really start to leverage.

SharpSpring is a full-featured CRM that can help introduce your team to CRM processes behind the scenes with a chatbot “front-of-house”.

SharpSpring can be configured to guide your team through the sales process with simple customer journeys that can help to keep track of all your enquiries and what stage they are at.

The Life of The Lead in SharpSpring

Why SharpSpring?

  • Easy, fast, and secure.
  • Add a personal touch to your chat conversation.
  • Customise chat messages depending on the type of enquiry – eg membership types, functions, weddings and so on.
  • Convert visitors into members or bookings.
  • Boost conversions rapidly.
  • Built-in CRM and Revenue Growth Automation tools to help your staff manage enquiries and move them through to members (or event bookings).

Learn more about our SharpSpring implementation packages.

4. Offer Flexible Membership Plans

Every member is different and so are their needs and expectations when joining a golf club. A single yearly membership plan may be too much for some players who don’t need to be able to access the course any time, every day.

With the right membership strategies, you can encourage more golfers to join your club. Here are some membership plan options that can help to create affordable packages for new members:

Monthly Memberships

Most golf clubs require members to sign-up for a year-long subscription. This is great for ensuring revenue and encouraging members to make use of what they are paying for, however, we’ve seen in many industries that flexibility is attractive to prospects, especially in a coronavirus affected world. Year-long memberships can seem overwhelming to newbies who want to try the sport before joining a long-term membership.

Rather than annual subscriptions that explicitly require members to renew, consider offering auto-renewing monthly membership plans that allow club members to cancel their monthly subscriptions anytime.

This gives members flexibility and a sense of security that they aren’t locked in, but also ensures recurring revenue without the need to remind long-term members to complete their renewals.

Weekend/Weekday Memberships

Some people are too busy to visit the golf course during weekdays. Conversely, retired senior players may find it convenient to visit the club during weekdays to avoid the crowd.

Consider launching separate membership plans for weekdays and weekends that are discounted compared to a full membership but allow golfers to play at a time that is most convenient for them.

Introductory Memberships

The lack of interest in golf among millennials has been cited as one of the major causes of the sharp decline in membership enrolments over the last decade. Outside of coronavirus, millennials are one of the major drivers of flexibility. Millennials move around more often than any other generation and typically avoid lock-in contracts and memberships that can’t travel with them.

Besides offering a flexible membership, consider an introductory offering that is targeted to younger players. You could offer a special price for youths in the age group of 15-30 years that comes with bundled lessons, or the option for lessons at a discount.

If you succeed in bringing more youths to the club, it may offer a higher return on investment (ROI) in the next few years.

Package Tiered Memberships

Membership with unlimited access are expensive. You may split game times into various packages with a membership plan for each. This allows golfers to choose one or more plans depending on their budget and interests but at a lower cost.

Of course, don’t make it so complicated that your team and your prospective members can’t figure out the right package for them. Just identify the things that members in your area are looking for the most and create packages that suit them.

If you aren’t sure, ask your members. Most players want to see their club thrive and grow so they will be more than willing to tell you what would make membership better.

Spousal/Couple Memberships

We’ve seen successes in a number of clubs that have implemented a spousal membership for married couples at a special discount rate. This has worked wonders at some clubs to encourage young people to join the club as they are able to play together (or separately if they need to get away from each other for a little while) without double the cost.

If they find a decent clubhouse culture at your course, there is a good chance these people will come to the club for family functions like birthday parties, and tell other couples about the membership.

Bundled/Group Memberships

For many people, golf clubs are the best place for socializing. Often novice golfers are reluctant to join a club alone. They don’t know what to expect and it can be a daunting experience for those first few visits. People often come with friends, family, co-workers, neighbours, etc.

Similar to spousal memberships, group memberships, such as for a workplace offering a club membership as a perk to employees, have helped to bring in new members to some clubs.

VIP Memberships

Golf is often seen as a high-end sport, and while many clubs are far from the luxurious portrayals in movies, every club has their VIP members. These are the people that stick around for a long time. They are loyal and keep coming back. They’ve spent so much on membership over the years and they constantly bring through guests. You need new members, but you definitely want to keep these loyalists and encourage other members to become just as loyal.

Consider a VIP membership for them that offers something special. Even if your club isn’t high-end, that little bit of luxury or special treatment provided to “elite” members can be something to encourage their ongoing patronage while also giving other members something to aspire to.

5. Multi-dimensional Partnerships

Partnership with local sellers and businesses can open new opportunities to attract new members to your golf course.

Golf Retailers

Look out for local retail stores selling golfing equipment, accessories, outfits, etc. Chances are you might already have some connections with them, and even if there is some competition between your own store and them, there may still be opportunity for partnerships. Reach out to them and look for possibilities to collaborate. Perhaps they would be willing to offer special discounts for your members at their shop in return for a membership discount for prospects that they send your way.

Other Local Businesses

Don’t limit your collaboration efforts to golf stores though. You never know what opportunities might exist to collaborate with other local businesses to offer more benefits for your members and opportunities to find new members. Think about how you could collaborate with gyms, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and other businesses to offer a win-win partnership for both your club and their business.

6. Start a Referral Reward Program

There is no better way to promote your golf course than allowing existing members to spread the word. In this age of social proof, people rely on real experiences from their peers.

Reward existing members when they refer their friends, colleagues, relatives, etc. You could offer VIP benefits, free cart passes, restaurant credits, shop vouchers or other incentives when someone they invite becomes a member.

Final Thoughts…

A thriving member base is vital to the success of any golf club, and the growth of golf as a sport.

While there is no single silver bullet that will apply to every golf club, the strategies we’ve covered in this article should give you a great place to start with ideas you can build on within the specific market that applies to your club. To summarise:

  • Identify your target market to inform the rest of your strategy.
  • Using social media to keep members in the loop and help potential new prospects find you.
  • Revamp your membership plans to suit your target market and consider flexible options.
  • Improve the enquiry experience and your conversion rates while reducing the load on your team by using a Revenue Growth Automation tool with a customisable chatbot, like SharpSpring by Constant Contact.
  • Partner up with local sellers and other complementary businesses.
  • Offer loyalty rewards and referral incentives to existing members.
If you are struggling to grow your golf club membership, I hope this article has given you some ideas that can help you to grow, and if you are interested in leveraging SharpSpring or getting assistance with your digital marketing, please get in touch with us today

Think the Revenue Growth Automation platform, SharpSpring by Constant Contact could work in your golf club?

Get in touch with us today for a free demo!

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