Players 1st Client Conference: Creating a Considered Golf Membership Proposition

The need for golf clubs to shift their consideration of members as a common collective, and to realise that there are different ‘types’ of members is crucial to the development of any club. Different types of flexible membership products are starting to reflect changes in lifestyle, life stages and time pressures of golfers, but the Danish Golf Federation, Dansk Golf Union (DGU), has identified a key differentiator which has started to play a key role in club development.

Within the 12.5k responses from the Danish Players 1st members survey in 2017, two distinctly different member ‘types’ were identified.

On the face of it, there were certainly similarities between the make-up and number of these members. With an equal population split (49% vs 51%), plus similar playing ‘profile’ between these groups e.g. number of lessons, frequency of use of training facilities, number of rounds played at home club, and number of green fees paid at other clubs.

The key differentiator between the two member ‘types’ becomes apparent when the individuals internal importance of the club and their participation in club activities is known. This is implied through a survey question, and can be used as a filter within the analysis.

Let’s call the groups ‘Dependent’ and ‘Independent’ golfers. The ‘Dependents’ identify with a feeling of club belonging and enjoy a structured environment, whilst the Independent groups are much more informal in their approach to golf and do not find the importance of their membership in the club itself.

The most significant difference between these two groups is churn. Churn in this example is defined as the rate that members expect to leave their membership within 2 years, and is measured through a survey question. The Independent golfers churn rate is 21 percent annually, whilst the Dependent, who are much more loyal to the club, is just 6 percent.

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Club Dependent v Independent.PNG

Across other regions (Denmark, Sweden and Netherlands), in the 2018-19 member data, other traits within these two groups start to emerge. This is interesting because even without the qualifier question to identify these two groups, it is possible for clubs to interpret their member types in a more informed manner.

What we see across these markets is that the Dependent golfer is more likely to be female, older, and highly satisfied with the club (as measured through their NPS score).

In Denmark, the average Dependents NPS score is 72, which is significantly higher than the Independent member with a 33 average NPS score. Their expectation to leave the club within two years is also an indicator of loyalty, and it’s significantly different between the two groups, where 20 percent of the Independent would leave in two years compared to only 5 percent of the Dependent members.

So what? If the personas have been realised, how can the club react? How can a club create the perfect environment which is mutually beneficial to the wants and demands of these two types of members?

The perfectly harmonious club scenario is almost a myth. What clubs should be striving for is creating the right offerings to the club which suit the needs of the Dependent golf, but also the Independent golfer.

By creating personas for these two types of club members, it allows clubs to be more targeted with their approach with communications and potentially implement changes to accommodate their club dependencies and social activities on offer. At a specific level, club administrators could make more efficient campaigns and recruitment of volunteers by targeting Dependent golfers with requests for regular volunteer roles, whilst Independent golfers might be more open to supporting the annual club charity day.

For more key takeaways from the Players 1st Client Conference, see this link.

Morten Bisgaard