James JeynesJames JeynesJune 6, 2019


Many sports clubs in the UK are struggling to stay afloat and golf is a prime example, with player numbers down and courses going bankrupt.

A major contributor to this predicament is a failure to attract younger players as members. In a recent article professional golf coach Pete Cowen says the sport “needs to do whatever it takes” to broaden its appeal, citing strict codes of conduct as an off-putting factor for many. High costs, inflexible membership deals, and limited social appeal contribute to discouraging young people from buying memberships to clubs.

It’s not just golf that faces danger – tennis too is struggling. Andy Murray expressed his concern during an interview about the declining levels of participation in the sport, particularly by young people. The message is that sports that have resolutely stuck to rigid social conventions in their clubhouses, and inflexible subscription models, are not attracting the next generation of members.

Membership bodies have often made concerted efforts to entice young members with special one-time offers, or discounted (and even free) membership programmes. On the surface, this tactic appears to work, and initially bolsters membership numbers. However, offering free or discounted membership is problematic for two reasons: firstly, these kinds of deals tend to attract customers who won’t renew their membership, rather than committed members who will; secondly, these members often dominate the numbers, skewing results and providing a misleading overall impression on membership as a result. In terms of retention, this approach rarely produces pleasing figures.

New balls please: Spin it any way you like, change is needed for sports clubs to survive

If discounted memberships aren’t the answer, then how can sporting bodies attract young players in sports that come with expansive facilities and expensive costs? Membership bodies in these types of sports should instead look to move towards a system that promotes an association with the sport, rather than fully-fledged membership to a body or a club.

In this sporting context, an association programme acts as a kind of tailor-made membership – one that can remain flexible to suit the requirements and preferences of the customer, while also cutting down the playing costs.

Illustrating association: a case study in golf and tennis

The mounting concerns regarding participation from within these sports make it clear that things need to change. The next generation of players want their membership to be more supple, rather than merely giving them a constricting attachment to one club. Subscribers can pay for a pass – accessible on a smartphone – that would permit them to visit multiple clubs within the terms of their association.

An ideal association platform for both golf and tennis, for example, might offer the following benefits:

  • the freedom to play at multiple clubs
  • digital infrastructure that enables members to book quickly and simply on their phones
  • options for short-term contracts, as opposed to rigid year-long memberships
  • opportunities to play the modern game e.g. ‘ready play’ in golf
  • a release from commitments to a social scene which often hasn’t been designed with them in mind
  • an association to the sport, rather than membership to a club

None of these association bonuses is particularly revolutionary, given that similar benefits have been standard practice with gym memberships for some time, but these next generation attractions have so far failed to translate to the sporting world more broadly.

With a focus on opening up clubs for use nationwide, golf and tennis illustrate the benefits of association well, but this shift would be effective for membership in lots of other sports too, such as table-tennis, badminton, squash, snooker, and swimming. With its flexible benefits, association would also improve membership platforms across the industry, regardless of which sector you work in.

What would association look like?

Given that funding for many sports clubs depends on the steady, guaranteed revenue of subscriptions, any movement towards association over membership will need to convince organisations of its sustainability from a business perspective.

It’s important to note that membership and association can co-exist; where traditional membership works for the customer, there is no need to disrupt their plan. Developments in the suitability of association will not necessarily entail the over-haul of memberships, but rather augment the membership model to provide an overall service that works for all.

Net profit: Attracting younger people to sports clubs lies with association rather than membership

A move to association will tackle the significant task of attracting the next generation to membership platforms. This is a challenge that requires new ways of thinking, and the confidence to take a few risks – creating successful association partnerships will demand both of these, as well as requiring sophisticated membership platforms, and cooperation and collaboration across clubs.

From the perspective of golf and tennis clubs and their existing members, a new framework of association may ruffle some feathers – with a calendar packed full of huge sporting events, the aforementioned sports would do well to capitalise on the excitement – tapping into the younger demographic will be essential for their long-term survival.

Inform. Inspire. Include.
A free way to improve your business.

Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.



UK Trademark UK00002648900

EUIPO Trademark 018131832

Contact Information

For article submissions:
Paul Ainsworth

For general inquiries, advertising and partnership information:
Tel: 0207 1932 428

For Masterclass enquiries:
Tel: +44 20 86385584

Customer Experience Magazine Limited
Company number: 12450532
International House, 24 Holborn Viaduct,
United Kingdom, London, England, EC1A 2BN


Find a job in customer support with Jobsora


weight loss: albolene weight loss kylie jenner weight loss diet juicing weight loss results quitting drinking weight loss 21 day weight loss plan selenium weight loss surgical procedures for weight loss best fast weight loss diet weight loss pants zero xtreme diet pills tanya burr weight loss where can you buy diet pills medi weight loss tampa where can i buy dexatrim weight loss diet that works red meat weight loss zantrex weight loss pills weight loss illness iaso tea weight loss reviews 17 day diet weight loss results 3 day fasting weight loss what vitamins promote weight loss weight loss and sexuality benefits of parsley for weight loss hcg weight loss men charlie cook weight loss calculate weight loss based on calories diet pills approved by fda what does the fiber in diet pills do hydrocodone weight loss sunflower diet pills fat supplements demograss diet pills side effects granola for weight loss sure fire diet pills low fat diet weight loss plan nv diet pills success stories honey benefits weight loss what diet pills have ephedrine in them raw vegan diet plan for weight loss black asia diet pills reviews jorie weight loss quick weight loss south africa kathy bates weight loss quick weight loss center kennesaw ga keely brosnan weight loss cucumber juice diet weight loss team weight loss challenge no protein diet for weight loss tracking weight loss easiest diet to follow for weight loss salt water weight loss

cbd oil: c2n cbd p cbd oil and fda cbd show on drug test gummy rat cbd and pain relief why use hemp oil rawsome cbd oil what does cbd oil do to the body vape pen battery rat tongue charlottes web cbd oil story nerve pain plus amazon y griega cbd cannabis anti cancer cbd mixed with nicotine pure cbd drops does cbd oil make you test positive for a drug test og kush cbd vape can cbd oil cause dry mouth of mice and men section 3 cbd vape liquids microdose cbd known meaning cbd oil loaction plant therapy review bcd reviews 2015 euphoric supplement pain management meaning pot without thc cbd oil pass federal drug test what is cannibis oil green roads cbd for sale medical properties pharma hemp cbd oil tincture color medical defintion prime my body scientific dictionary cbd oil and end stage liver disease terpenes for sale cbd xrp oil side effects of thc do male hemp plants produce cbd 19 pure sleep cbd oil causing paranoia can i take cbd oil with gabapentin que es multiple sclerosis espanol cbd oil boost immune system can cbd oil cause anxiety cbd oil with thc uses cbd at walgreens cbd oil extract shelf life cbd oil new braunfels

male enhancement: why is my libido so high weider prime testosterone cialis and bph my penis pics best pills for ed impotency pills ingredients in cetaphil icariin supplement teva pharmaceuticals generic viagra max male enhancement over the counter for ed girls erections how to get a bigger pennis how to raise testosterone before and after penis enlargement taking cialis and viagra together penis enlargement doctors robot penis male growth enhancement pills horny goat weed examine increase blood flow to pennis sign for man ginger testosterone does horney goatweed work does ageless male work when does my pennis stop growing supplements to last longer in bed cialis drug class sex strong rock hard erections blue circle pills is there over the counter viagra pill test kit where can i buy sex sex party supplies best all natural male enhancement pills dick small after drugs reddit red fortera reviews best supplement for morning wood best male libido supplements define vascular tissue staxyn reviews itchy penis head primacin xl penis small volume sperm pills dick eating pain at tip of penis penile enlargements how long does 25mg viagra last the biggest pennis in d world how big is a normal size penis

vape: vape flavor ban vape coupons reddit best mtl vape heartland vape black note vape juice coupon code ecig express university vape gold standard vape juice best vape pen for oil cartridges 2017 esmart ecig review best value vape 7 wonders vape juice vape shop coupon benzoic acid vape vape cbd tincture vapormax plus how to use a vape cartridge voopoo eune blue label elixir uwell crown 2 coils large pack ecig store orlando 24mm on voopoo drag yc vape siphon juice tank vaporiser whip e cigarette use rose to popularly what is an ecig vaping cigs eleaf mini istick who created vaping rda ecig how many watts should i vape at rdas for sale orion q pod system vitamin e vape juice nvape pen manhattan mechanical mods smok alien 220w watt online shopping for e cigarette vapor battery sizes e cigarette burner smok novo ebay ecig for sale cheap tugboat box mod make cbd vape oil fancier uwell crystal vapor uwell crown tan vape shops in atlanta voopoo xname coils u2 geekvape blade review voopoo drag mini mod internal battery voopoo drag tear down