Marketing Update

These are just some of the questions asked and the answers given from ‘Lady Golfer' magazine's ‘Secret Secretary'. Makes an interesting read, and one I'm sure you'd like to comment on!

Does a joining fee have any place in the current climate?
Probably not. Some clubs can sustain it through prestige and occupying a niche market but it is a barrier to ordinary people.

Does a dress code have any place in the current climate?
No. A dress code is an archaic form of control and division. Current fashion allows self-expression and there are many expensive styles that look good but, in the past, would have breached dress codes.
Clubs should be aware that many of today's young golfers do not even own a tie or, if they do, it is worn as a fashion accessory, not as a ‘uniform'.
Members should be trusted to dress appropriately for the occasion and with respect for themselves. Clearly where the style is inappropriate, for example gardening/painting/work clothes, then the management can advise accordingly.
On the golf course clothing should be golf wear, just as on a tennis court you should wear tennis kit or on a football pitch, a football kit.

Are Honorary Secretaries, who are unpaid for their efforts, a thing of the past?
Yes. Clubs should be run by professional leisure managers if they want to face the challenges of a modern business environment.

When was the last time your club had a waiting list?
Over four years ago.

What is the most effective way of marketing the club for new members?
Website, social media, word of mouth.

How much interest do you get through Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn and so on?
A recent addition so it is still developing. However, social media has scooped up younger members who now feel more included.
It also presents a more modern image of a club and enables faster communication.

How much should a golf club be involved with local schools?
No more or no less than any other sport. It should be an option for kids to consider so a presence through advertising and after school/holiday programmes should be on the club programme.

Do you do anything different to attract new women members?
No, other than the fact that we have fully adopted the Equality Act and do not differentiate between the sections.
However, it will take some time for the ladies' section to equal the men's in terms of numbers.

Can you see a time when most clubs will have a flexible membership. In other words, pay a small amount to be a member and then buy credits?
Not at most clubs, as there will always be a demand for private clubs just as there is in tennis.

Has your club ever offered free coaching to attract new members?

Why are there not more women secretaries?
Firstly it would seem that the high percentage of male ‘secretaries' is a product of the fact that people are not leaving the jobs they are already in.
Many stay on for many years until retirement. The golf club industry has a reputation as an older person's environment and consequently older employees fit in more easily.
In turn they do not leave as frequently. Since golf has been a male-dominated market the role of ‘secretary' has traditionally been a male domain.
Secondly, the lack of women in the roles reflects the general labour market.
Jobs are open to all in the modern day. However, women have more demands in terms of family and children (a traditional mindset that will be hard to break no matter how forward thinking or politically correct society becomes).
It is likely that fewer women apply for the top golf club jobs because of these two reasons. It is also likely that the perception of golf clubs - staid, old fashioned, dull, correct, too many rules, self important, carvery orientated - is not an appealing environment for a career woman.
Many will seek a management role in a more vibrant sector such as health clubs. It is up to clubs to re-invent themselves as modern and forward thinking if they are to attract the female employee market.

Is there still a place for having stewards running the bar and kitchens against outsourcing catering and bar?
The traditional steward is an outmoded concept. In-house bar and catering is the ideal where there is a dedicated food and beverage team run by professionals, preferably from an hotel or similar service background.
The very term ‘steward' reeks of the old-style golf club mentality where the person in that role had a higher sense of self-importance than the role required.
Golf clubs are another form of leisure club/activity and should not assume some over-inflated status, personified by ‘stewards' and ‘secretaries'.