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Private Golf Clubs Struggle to Survive

Private Golf Clubs Struggle to Survive

Many private golf courses in Canada are working hard to stay in business. Facing with challenges like an aging membership and a sagging economy, they are currently being pro-active in their drive to boost membership. Marketing strategies like slashing entrance fees to attract younger golfers are becoming common.

Sean DeSilva, General Manager of Cedar Brae Golf and Country Club, said, “Globally, one of the biggest challenges with private golf is an aging membership. [We] have an average age membership of around 58-to-60-year-old which makes you look at how we bring in new younger players.” The club was founded in 1922 and has 435 members. The high average age of members means that more are being forced to leave the game due to health reasons or even death.

Cedar Brae has started cutting membership fees by a significant amount. They also offer flexible options like a one-year trial membership that only requires the golfer to pay annual dues. “There are very, very flexible payment terms,” DeSilva said about the club’s offers.

Many private clubs across the country are adapting to these trends, according to ScoreGolf Magazine’s Robert Thompson. He acknowledges that there are still private golf clubs that are not struggling as much from the downturn, such as Capilano Golf and Country Club in Vancouver, Calgary Golf and Country Club in Calgary, and Rosedale Golf Club in Toronto. These high-end golf courses still have waiting lists.

Thompson also said that traditional rules and regulations are being reviewed by the private clubs. Rules about dress codes, banning of cell phones, and wearing knee socks when in shorts are found too restrictive by young golfers. “Some clubs are slowly starting to get around to recognizing that and recognizing that if they want younger people to come into the club, these are things — time-honored traditions — that are going to have to change,” he explained.

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