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Slumbers shows clubs the way forward

R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers says golf clubs, at the grassroots level, have to change and become more family friendly if they are to halt the decline in membership levels. For clubs to succeed, Slumbers says they need to be “very family orientated, have fitness, have crèches, have coffee shops, have wi-fi, have no dress code, have a short par 3 course, have a short 9 hole golf course, pitch and putt”. He also points out that there are two to three times more golfers who are not members of clubs than those that are. In a hard hitting assessment Slumbers believes clubs are not currently providing “a product people want to buy”. With course closures starting to become a reality will enough clubs change or will the people in charge of the clubs be willing to change.

The council or management structure of a typical golf club in the UK & Ireland probably comprises 8/10 gentlemen who are all over the age of 50 and who maybe do not understand the needs of a 30 year old married man or woman with a young family. Furthermore will this existing group of decision makers want to make their club more family friendly and accept kids making noise in the bar or restaurant whilst their parents wear casual clothes to enjoy a drink? I very much doubt it, golf clubs not golf as a sport is at a precipice. Clubs need to change and change quickly if they are not to face financial ruin in the not too distant future. The older established clubs who can rely on a steady income from green fee revenue e.g. Royal County Down/Lahinch can remain relatively “bullet proof” but the vast majority of others cannot. Clubs have quite simply got to become part of their local communities or they will cease to exist in their current format.