Golf Club Membership tailored to your own budget

Ivan Morris
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Golf Club Membership tailored to your own budget

FlexyGolf

There are 180,000 ‘official’ poll tax paying golfers in Ireland at present. It’s not really enough to sustain the game’s governing body Golf Ireland with any comfort. It’s frustrating that at least the same number play golf irregularly and sporadically without being a member of a club or paying an annual fee to a club or Golf Ireland.

Many of the 50,000 that gave up their club membership in the past ten years still play some golf. I’m certain that most of them would still be club members if it was affordable in monetary and time terms. Why wouldn’t they? Golf is such a great pastime that young and old can play. Being a club member is the best way to enjoy the game. For Golf Ireland to lose 50,000 poll taxes cannot be dismissed lightly, either.

This situation highlights a flaw in the manner golf is organised in this country. Long-established GCs with top grade facilities tend to be full and somewhat unwelcoming towards non-members, beginners and novices. Whenever they need to, the big clubs have no difficulty attracting member recruits from the smaller clubs with fewer facilities, which means a continuous spare capacity and a never-ending struggle to pay bills in the less fashionable GCs.

A brand new idea for a ‘virtual golf club partner membership’ called Flexygolf, has recently been announced which provides a hopeful and viable solution to the ‘golfer drain’ by offering some of the privileges a traditional club membership would at a much-reduced cost. It’s a win, win, win because all three ‘partners’ in the arrangement (the aspiring flexygolfer, the golf club and Golf Ireland) all gain. The golfer is given a ‘flexy’ membership, an official handicap plus the opportunities to play more often and competitively, if desired. The club receives an annual joining fee plus a green fee (albeit reduced) whenever the golfer comes to play. Golf Ireland receives an extra poll tax exactly in the same way as it does from all of its member clubs.

Launched in March 2021 by Clubs to Hire, Europe’s largest golf rental business, the promoter’s concept is to provide nomadic, homeless golfers with an opportunity to play their golf in their own time and terms at an affordable cost (€119 per annum for the first 200 applicants, €139 thereafter). In my view, FlexyGolf has to be good for the game overall with the potential to become a viable stepping-stone for golfers to progress to an established club in the future because the way it is set-up allows its members to do whatever they wish in their own time and at a very affordable price.

Flexygolfers should be embraced wholeheartedly, especially by clubs seeking new members and greater footfall. Anything that encourages more play and more players, especially at places with a shortfall in memberships and spare capacity should be welcomed. It is also a guaranteed bonus for the coffers of Golf Ireland without it having to lift a finger.

Two golf clubs have already signed up as ‘partners’ – Blacklion in County Cavan and Highfield in County Kildare. Both are looking forward to welcoming extra ‘traffic’ coming through their gates. From these partner clubs’ point of view (and more to follow soon) adding a Flexygolf membership category does not impede on the privileges of the current members but will provide them with some new, recurring, added revenue that can be used to improve facilities and greenkeeping machinery.

The plight of small, rural golf clubs has often been highlighted, but their needs are over-looked over and over again by the Sports Council, Golf Ireland and the tourism bodies. Small clubs are never included in national marketing budgets.

Flexygolfers will have fewer privileges than ordinary members, but in time, they may be enticed to play more often and upgrade to full membership? Flexygolf is certainly worth a try by those seeking a cheaper way of playing the game, while at the same time small GC’s in need of more visitors and footfall will benefit.

For more information, contact:  info@flexygolf.com | www.flexygolf.com

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11 responses to “Golf Club Membership tailored to your own budget”

  1. Mark avatar

    Possible the way all golfers will go over time. We all know that by 5th April 2021 we will have lost 27 weeks of golf that will be 41% of the last 15 months. Golfers don’t care about the costs of maintenance, they are more concerned by the value they get followed by the condition of the greens. Has any club made a refund of any portion of the sub their members paid in 2020? I doubt it. I believe according to an Irish golfer podcast 54% of members still gave not paid their membership sub for 2021. If clubs want to avoid golfers going the flexigolf route this year then call 2021 a 9 month year and adjust membership subs accordingly. It appears that soon there will be no value in club membership.

    1. Darren avatar

      As a club member I would beg to differ. I’ve still paid my fees each month despite not playing because I want a club to come back to, and view the situation long term as I intend to stay and play at the same club for many years hopefully; knowing the financial plight of many golf clubs I would like to think that most club members would have the same belief. I’m not convinced on the Flexygolf for several reasons – I’d be concerned about a greater player drain away from clubs to a cheaper option, I’d also be concerned about handicaps awarded for non-competition play. The age old debate of golf vs time/cost will always be there and there will always be ebb and flow as people move through their lives.

    2. Cc avatar

      Well said mark it seems all golf clubs are making no acknowledgement of COVID closure 2020/2021/making no gesture of a slight reduction in members fees and ignoring members dissatisfaction with this attitude. It’s seem to be pay up and shut up .

  2. Mark avatar

    Possible the way all golfers will go over time. We all know that by 5th April 2021 we will have lost 27 weeks of golf that will be 41% of the last 15 months. Golfers don’t care about the costs of maintenance, they are more concerned by the value they get followed by the condition of the greens. Has any club made a refund of any portion of the sub their members paid in 2020? I doubt it. I believe according to an Irish golfer podcast 54% of members still have not paid their membership sub for 2021. If clubs want to avoid golfers going the flexygolf route this year then call 2021 a 9 month year and adjust membership subs accordingly. It appears that soon there will be no value in club membership.

  3. Ger avatar

    The vast majority of golf clubs are members owned and non-profit making, however they still have to balance the books, pay staff wages, maintaining the course for member & guests to the standards prior to covid-19, because members will demand this on their return.
    While Flexygolf may assist some clubs in the short-term, it will hurt most clubs & subsequently “the members” in the long-term with less full, 5-day etc. memberships having to pay the same running costs, while the flexy golfers will expect to get reduced rates on courses during opens & semi-opens.
    At our club (not a old urban club) we are considering many options to dissuade this form of membership as well as options for not allowing reduced greenfees for flexygolfers during our opens/semi-opens. I hope other clubs review the potential negative impact it could have on their membership & green income.

    1. Angry Golfer avatar

      100% agree, clubs should unite against this to refuse flexygolfers entering their open competitions

  4. Gerard Cleary avatar

    Flexy golf will probably be a success for the simple reason that some clubs take their members for granted, my club has increased my sub by 25% even though we were closed for 27 weeks in 2020 not to mention how long it will be closed for this year. Where can you get more information on Flexygolf?

  5. Angry Golfer avatar

    If that’s the way your club treats you, then you should definitely leave them !

  6. Angry Golfer avatar

    This is nothing short of a get rich quick scheme for the organiser. Maybe because the tourism industry and renting golf clubs is quiet he feels the next to ‘expand’. The fact he’s teamed up with Highfield says it all and highlights how dodgy this is. A golf course transformed into a footgolf course… because the actual golf course couldn’t attract golfers.

    What happens when golf ireland rule against their handicaps, or if they don’t but golf clubs don’t allow them to enter their opens, how valuable will their €119 be then? Of course he’ll say there will be open days held in Highfield and Blacklion to ensure “events” are held as they promise. Kind of defeats the purpose of being able to play anywhere and everywhere because at the end of the day, your ‘flexy’.

    This is just the 2021 version of slievenamon and blessington lakes handicaps…

    This ploy to kill off golf clubs should be a wake up for many of the clubs to act and open up their membership and playing options to new players.

    My guess is if golf ireland was to conveniently look the other way because their coffers continue to be lined with the already extortionate fee (to fund a few “elite panels” and ignore the 99% of other union members), then you’ll see the likes of mygolfsociety, and other society organisers start up ‘invisible’ clubs!

  7. David Mooney avatar

    It looks like Flexy golf is a non runner. What is very surprising is that the company and brains behind this project had not contacted golf Ireland before taking peoples money. What appeared to be on the surface a great idea seems now to have failed by poor planning and indeed an arrogance on behalf of the people involved in setting up Flexy Golf believing they could set up a virtual golf club without any input from the sports governing body. It has every appearance of a confidence trick where they have taken financial reward without ever being in a position to deliver an end product. It certainly leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

    1. Brendan Wheatley avatar

      I am a member of one of the mentioned golf clubs who practice the minor member or play and play guy.
      I could afford the fee and am glad to pay it. I’ve seen the struggles in trying to keep members and maintain an acceptable course. Keeping the place warm and the lights on . Cleaning the clubhouse, paying staff etc. However not everyone can afford full membership and it should be opened in anyway to everyone. Remember a player playing and using the facilities is better than a dwindling elite type of club . Demanding intro fees and ascending annual Subs. The opening up to all classes will make the game grow and build the game up from grassroots

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