Even before the wallet-tightening times of the 2008 market crash, country clubs began lessening in demand and thus membership. Though golf saw a rise in popularity in the 90s, thanks to the fame of professional players like Tiger Woods, the younger generation strayed away from the sport to athletics with more community activities or lower participation costs, like cycling and marathons. So, like all industries in crisis, the country club has had to evolve in order to remain relevant in the modern world.
Depending on the size of the club and the location, different strategies are being utilized to cut losses and recruit new members. Many associations are calling on golf club consulting firms to step in and help organize new strategies that will set the organization up for success with upcoming generations. By looking into what prospective members want – and don’t want – from a club is helping to bring new perspectives to what a country club should offer.
Many clubs are finding that they must reach out to potential members and no longer have the waiting lists they once did. Though the change has been slow, more country clubs are offering newer options to its members than just golf and dining. A few of the contemporary amenities offered by some country clubs are:
- Exclusive health and wellness centers with personal trainers or fitness classes available.
- Child care centers that often cost less than traditional daycare.
- Social events such as painting classes, wine tastings, and tournaments.
- Sports instructors for children who are interested in learning golf or tennis.
Revamped Financial Strategies
These things are very attractive to today’s busy professional, but often the most challenging thing to overcome is the cost factor. Adults today are very selective in how they choose to spend their money and often think of country clubs as too expensive.
A number of member-owned organizations and management companies are finding the solution to be a more competitive financial game plan. Instead of high initial fees, some are offering one-year memberships to let new members see that they are getting their money’s worth. Others are lowering fees altogether or offering financing options to get people in the doors.
Another strategy that some have adopted is to open its doors to the public and become available to more than just its members. With some clubs also easing the dress code, a country club can become a more realistic option for a wider audience. It isn’t the same country club shown in 50’s movies but a newly evolved social spot for today’s modern professional and their family.