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Independent Golfer Ireland

  • 15-05-2024 3:42pm
    Registered Users Posts: 655 ✭✭✭

    350000 people in Ireland play golf regularly but are not members of a golf club according to Golf Ireland.

    This is 57 percent more than the 223000 they claim are members of golf clubs.

    How long will the 1 year exemption last for current members of golf clubs before they can access this I wonder.

    In England after 2 years it was reduced to 30 days.

    Where are these extra 350000?…surely has to include all overseas visitors who pay top dollar and only visit a few premier clubs.

    What impact will this have on clubs?

    Will it as Golf Ireland claim, lead to extra people paying green fees and eventually joining a club or will it lead to a race to the bottom to retain members?

    Will it lead to the demise of clubs selling cheap distance memberships?

    What do you think?

    Post edited by bobster453 on


  • Registered Users Posts: 655 ✭✭✭bobster453

    Another point of view here.

    Key for me is the lack of figures detailing how many members left clubs in England,Wales or Scotland to avail of what has been termed "yellow pack" handicaps.

  • Registered Users Posts: 655 ✭✭✭bobster453

    If you were a committee member of a golf club what would your strategy be to maximise the return from this initiative?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,631 ✭✭✭coillcam

    There's intro/beginner type memberships in lots of clubs. They're just not really advertised or promoted very well.

    Plus people are automatically put off when they need to go looking for two proposers.

    Clubs will have a few ways of approaching iGolf.

    1. Trying to discourage existing members from walking away (cheaper 3/5/6 day memberships, penalties for re-joining, figuring out leave of absence policies to re-align with igolf take up).
    2. Changing how facilities, prizes and green fees work.
      1. Limit facilities for guests/igolfers.
      2. Prizes for iGolfers can't be 1st overall (I can see GI raising an eyebrow).
      3. iGolfers must have a fully developed index and max # of general play cards for prizes.
      4. Jack up open and normal green fees for non-GI club affiliated golfers.
    3. Pathways from iGolf into membership.
      1. Eg play X times in a year, and qualify for a special intro deal.
      2. The best iGolfer of the year get's discount on the same membership (min say 5 opens in club).
      3. Best iGolfers form a team to play against club selection at end of season (nominal prize, food and drinks after).

    There's plenty of both discourage and encourage at play but that's what I can think of in 5 minutes. So I'd imagine there's loads more to come.

    It's a hard balance of stopping leavers and tapping into potential new members. If someone wants to leave they won't want to contribute to the club. If someone wants to join, they want to play and get involved.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,167 ✭✭✭OEP

    It'll have to be in for a couple of years before clubs find out if they're losing members because of it. If they are losing members, I'd expect clubs to restrict open competitions to non-iGolf members.

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  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators Posts: 23,146 Mod ✭✭✭✭Kiith

    More clubs need to invest money in their website, and actually promote their club on social media. So many clubs have sites that look like they were designed in the 90's (which they probably were).

  • Registered Users Posts: 958 ✭✭✭Green Peter

    This will actually kill of clubs and is a disaster, we all know of a few clubs you can join for €150 and get a handicap and the large numbers that go to them rather than support a local club. Local clubs will struggle to survive, already many are club hopping to get cheap golf. IMO it's a money grab by the GUI who couldn't care less about the clubs and how they are to survive. I expect alot of clubs to fold and be snapped up by developers. The GUI will have golfers at their mercy in the long term with fewer clubs. Clubs need to get together and respond in a meaningful way that will hit the GUI and their cronies in the pocket.

  • Registered Users Posts: 567 ✭✭✭bakerbhoy

    From the mutterings I have heard from officialdom, it's going to a very expensive entry/green fee for the independent golfer.

  • Registered Users Posts: 856 ✭✭✭thewobbler

    such hyperbole. Such nonsense.

    If any club in any area wants to fend this threat off (perceived or real), they will have one simple manoeuvre to make: refuse to host any green fees, societies, opens or guests, at weekends.

  • Registered Users Posts: 655 ✭✭✭bobster453

    I tend to think it is singles competitions that will be hit with large entry fee for competitions tbh.

    Societies and classics wont be touched as they are cash cows at weekends..societies will most likely insist on whs holders putting thro scores as per the Boards society.

    Classics dont really matter as they are just for raising money and every golfer knows the bandits always win them anyhow so clubs charge plenty as is for timesheet spots.

    With shortened season due to weather a lot of clubs dont have green fees at weekends.

    Cant comment about opens at many clubs have them?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,540 ✭✭✭blue note

    If clubs can now have open comps and charge some people extra for entering them they'll be delighted about it.

    I went on a 2 round overnight golf trip with my college mates at the weekend. 8 of us played. Of the 8, 1 is a member of 2 clubs and gets lots of use out of both. I'm a pay and play member of a club because I can't justify full membership anywhere while I won't get to make reasonable use out of it. I have previously been a full member of a club. 2 are former club members but have taken a break as they can't justify membership while they don't have time to use it. 1 has the independent golfer type of membership in Australia - for him it's a way into the game. For 200 dollars he gets a lesson, I think he said it includes a couple of rounds and he gets discounted rounds on a few courses. He's delighted with it and if he takes to the game he'll look at full membership somewhere. He won over the two days so I suspect he'll stick with it. The other 3 lads have never been a member anywhere but would have an interest in some sort of membership in the future. I'd say they'll be a long while before they'd consider parting with a grand or two for full membership anywhere though while they're only playing a few times a year.

    For me, I was looking at our group and thinking that one of the 8, two have already left clubs because they can't justify the membership fees considering how little they use them. If I only had full memberships as options available to me, I probably wouldn't justify being a member anywhere either. I think golf as a sport will be better served when people can be kept in touch with the game as some sort of members somewhere. They'll play more if they are and they'll pay more if they are. That will benefit clubs. I could be wrong, but I'd be amazed if we see any mass exodus from clubs from people going to Independent golfer. If lads are members of places just for a handicap they're using the pay and play options, or distance membership, not full memberships.

  • Registered Users Posts: 567 ✭✭✭bakerbhoy

    The small rural clubs with large distance members are most vunerable…

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,540 ✭✭✭blue note

    I was previously a distance member in your club, so in fairness not a small rural club. Interestingly, I remember when I was a distance member there being told by a couple of members that they didn't think the club should do distance membership. They for one felt that if you have full playing rights you should pay full subs. They were also of the opinion that people would use fake addresses to claim distance membership. In my case I was living in Dublin, but in their view since I was in my early 20s sure I was down every weekend, it's no different to living in the town.

    If I remember correctly, I was paying €550 for that membership option. At the same time, there were clubs offering distance membership for about €150. If people just wanted the handicap, they'd choose the €150 option. Why would anyone even pay €151 for it somewhere if they could get it for €150? People choosing distance memberships do so because they get some use out of them on top of the handicap. In my case, I was splitting my weekends at the time between Dublin, Tramore and Tullamore. The big advantage of a distance membership in my home town was that when I was home for the weekend I could play in the Sunday comp with my father / friends. A handicap only option would by and large rule out Sunday golf. It was also handy that I could play in opens in the midlands on bank holidays, I used to play in a couple each year. I don't recall ever playing in an open in Dublin in that time. Having a handicap was very important to me too. In my eyes, it's the only real measure of how good you are. Doing well in comps can be great, but sometimes all it means is that you were playing badly for a long time before you got your game together. Your handicap is how good you are.

    Another angle to look at - do people remember the furore when a club started offering distance membership for €150? There was outrage. Golfers were taking it up essentially to buy a handicap and a hell of a lot of people thought clubs should not be allowed to do that. Are we now okay with clubs selling handicaps with no golf attached (it might have been on offer, but if it was never going to be used it was in essence no golf attached)?

    I supposed I still just don't see where any significant loss of members / revenue is going to come from. How many distance members in small rural clubs who have no little interest in playing those clubs can we possibly have?

  • Registered Users Posts: 944 ✭✭✭JVince

    I'm not sure if this will affect club membership as much as some fear.

    Part of club membership is being within the club. The comradery, the playing in the club contests, being picked to represent the club.

    I'm in a small society too. There are 26 members. 14 are members of golf clubs, the others are casual players and don't play often enough to warrant joining a club. One is a member of Highfield flexigolf (€195) even though he lives 100km away.

    Of the other 11, I'd guess 8 or 9 would pay €100 for Independent Golf membership and of them I reckon 4 o 5 would eventually join a club.

    Of the 14 who are members of clubs, I don't think any of them would cancel membership and take up the Independent Golf offer.

  • Administrators Posts: 53,689 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭awec

    Part of club membership is being within the club. The comradery, the playing in the club contests, being picked to represent the club.

    There are plenty of people out there who don't really care about this stuff. I am sure every golf club has plenty of members who never set foot in the club house or put a cent across the bar, they just arrive up to play their round and head home straight away after.

    To these people the club is merely the service provider they pay to get access to the course.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,920 ✭✭✭✭Seve OB

    I met a fellow club member last week who you might say prides himself on being the perfect member

    pays his sub, doesn't play 🤣

    he told me to make it even better, he was down at Christmas a couple of years ago collecting the wine (as lots do with unspent bar credit) and met the manager and was chatting about kids etc. mentioned he would get his daughter into the club in a few years when she turns age. manager said to him "what age she now?….. sure rules have changed we can get her in now"

    so now he pays the sub for both himself and his daughter and neither of them come near the place 🤣

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,509 ✭✭✭✭callaway92

    When is this due to come in? Or is it still just rumoured etc?

  • Registered Users Posts: 655 ✭✭✭bobster453

    Not rumoured.Golf Ireland online meetings already held.

    Not sure of timeframe.

  • Registered Users Posts: 318 ✭✭roverjoyce

    Seems to be working in England

  • Registered Users Posts: 655 ✭✭✭bobster453

    The elephant in the room for me is how many of those left clubs for cheap handicap.

    In other words what was overall club membership prior to launch versus now.

    Cannot find those figures anywhere.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 944 ✭✭✭JVince

    Huge jump of 100,000 in 2020-2021, ("Since the pandemic struck in March 2020, affiliated golf club membership in England has increased by 100,000.") drop of 15,000 in 2022, small rise in 2023.

    Clubs did very well keeping most of the Covid joiners