The question of how to attract younger members is one that all clubs have struggled with. Whilst the number of younger players has increased in recent years, getting this transient interest to transfer into long term income has
The EGCOA has spoken to a club in the UK that have recently overhauled their entire concept of membership for the millennials. How they segment, market to and interact with this group has been totally revamped. Below we find out why and how they did it, as well as ask the most important question, has it actually worked?
Pentland Golf in Kent is made up of two golf clubs with both an 18 and 9 hole course. Whist the group had sustained itself over the last few years, this summer it was decided to renovate its marketing and communications completely.
It dropped the brand of Pentland Golf for its courses, having realised that its members joined to be part of a club, a locality and a tribe. Whilst being able to play at two courses is always a nice benefit, its members were not taking up the offer. So the umbrella of Pentland stayed, but both Boughton and Etchinghill course got their own branding, website and feel.
Once the branding of the two clubs was completed, the focus moved back onto how to up their member numbers, which were standing at around 900 for each club. Whilst older membership of the club was constant, it was the attraction and retention of the younger generations that had been slowly shrinking over the last decade. A new approach was needed. The answer they came up with was the Ballers.
The Ballers is a new membership at both Etchinghill and Boughton Golf. The Ballers are a different breed, out for a laugh, to meet new mates and have some fun. The tribe is strictly limited to the ages of 18 – 35 and each week a dedicated baller event is hosted at the club.
The aim of this new membership is to turn the already established number of under 40’s that play at the club but are not members, into fully committed, sub paying regulars. They are encouraged to bring with them their friends, colleagues and acquaintances to help build out the tribe.
From student memberships Pentland had had in the past, they knew high costs scared off potential players, as they a) did not have the funds; and b) played less regularly and made less use of the facilities than their older counterparts. The full fee of £1100 per year was a barrier stopping play, so a 3 teared system for the Ballers was born.
Ballers are broken up into three age categories, 18 to 24, 25 to 29 and 30 to 35. This allowed Pentland to structure their costs so as to be affordable for each group (£23.85, £46 and £62 per month respectively).
Andy Wilson, Sales Manager at Penltland explained these price points: “Where is the perceived value to a 23 year old in paying over £1000 a year and playing 3 times a month in the summer? It just does not exist. By lowering that cost and splitting it monthly it makes more sense. Most clubs only advertise the yearly cost, but the young pay everything monthly, rent, phone, gym membership, even their car so you have to cater for that.”
But it is not just cost and annual payment plans that is keeping back this demographic. “We had to increase the perceived value of joining the club, to do this we had to address all the perceived barriers, not just the cost. Younger players often look at club membership in a certain way, older clientele that are traditional in their play, no one of own age and slow rounds. The Ballers Membership addresses all these issues.
It allows for regular access to the course, with a tribe of the same age, same interests and same speed. The club puts on weekly meet ups where Ballers can play a game and then socialise in the clubhouse afterwards. It’s flexible, affordable and allows people to play with those of the same age, not older members who want to play competition golf every weekend. You only have to look at topgolf to see the appeal in the model and potential clientele it could attract.
It is still early days for the Ballers of Kent, but so far things are coming on strong. The programme launched at the end of September 2016, 2 months in and it has attracted 25 ballers in a time period when new memberships usually dying down. The most exciting thing for Andy is that this has been a soft launch, with a heavy social media marketing campaign already planned out for March.
We will make sure to keep you all updates as to how the Ballers are rolling then.