Joining fees creeping back ?

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Jaco

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I was planning on joining my local club, when their membership year begins next month, but they’ve just upped prices by about 9% (maybe understandable due to inflation, as I think they’ve held rates for a couple of years), but when I enquired they said there’s a joining fee of £ 500. They’ve very recently had a new website, omitting membership rates, but the old one said NO JOINING FEE, so this is brand new.
Two other good local clubs also now have JF’s, both of which didn’t a year or so back.
Its principle more than money but I just feel these fees are BS and from a bygone age, or should be.
Golf is in vogue because there’s been nothing else to do for two years, but it won’t necessarily last, so this feels shortsighted to me.
 

Billysboots

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I do wonder whether some clubs reintroduced joining fees during the Covid spike to deter short term, transient members.

Not all clubs were entirely welcoming of those who only intended to stay whilst they couldn’t play/watch football, cricket and other preferred sports.
 

Imurg

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We have a hidden joining fee...
For the first 5 years of your membership you pay an extra 200 quid.
After 5 years your fee reverts to the Loyalty Member rate of...200 quid less....
 
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If joining fees are so counterproductive why are there clubs with a joining fee and a long waiting list? My answer to that question is that if a club offers an attractive package then a joining fee is acceptable - especially where there is evidence that the club continually invests in improving the course, clubhouse and club facilities, and joining fees go to that investment. Of course any such club will also be recognising the ability of the local market to be able to afford their product…and the local demand.
 

IanM

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Yep it's counter intuitive, but I'm sure there is something in it. We've always had a joining fee and the only flex in past 10 years was the ability to pay it over 3 years.

There are several incidents groups of 12 or more trying to "cut a deal" at the start of the year.

The difference for long term sustainability is offering a "good product." The only courses closing in this area where those built in 80s/90s boom that were not sufficiently invested in on past 20 years.

However, any barrier to entry isnt a good thing.
 

Blue in Munich

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Creeping back? They never left. If a club is worth joining then they can afford to do it, indeed you could argue they would be daft not to; it means that those joining intend to commit to the club long term, providing a regular revenue stream & more security of budget planning for ongoing schemes & maintenance. I looked at mine as a 20 year investment, meaning I'm paying less than a tenner a month over that time for the membership. Most of the clubs that have dropped joint fees do well out of it for that year but a large number of those new joiners tend to gravitate to the next cheap offer is the experience round here.
 

Beedee

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Personally I think a lot of clubs introducing joining fees will be dropping them very soon, and a lot of waiting lists will empty quickly. Combine the average energy bill increase and the NI rise both due in April, and you get the annual membership fee at an awful lot of clubs. It looks to me like too many clubs are desperate to kill the golden goose.
 
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Our club introduced a joining fee during the covid rise of players. I think as some normality is coming back, some of the newer golfers have stopped playing as quickly as they started, some may have to re-prioritise their outgoings etc.

A friend of mine has just joined and now no mention of a joining fee by the club. They only appear to enforce it when we get at max capacity or very close to it.

I also imagine it’s lost potential members due to the additional costs.
 

HeftyHacker

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I think if a club has always had a joining fee (I've been considering getting on the list for SAOL which has always had one) then I kind of feel like it's fair enough, and in the example I've listed you can clearly see that the money is well spent.

However, if i had to pay one for a pretty average course, knowing full well that others havent, and then they were subsequently dropped I'd be more than a little miffed.
 

AliMc

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Clubs will introduce a members fee as soon as they have a waiting list.
Very few leave the club where Ken and I play, other than those who sadly pass away, we generally only take in around 20 or so a year and with a rumoured 300 or so currently on the waiting list it's looking like around a 15 year wait, we have always had a joining fee as far as I'm aware, it cost me £40 subs and £40 joining fee when I joined in 1982, we have a quality product that people want to play and plans for a new clubhouse, practice range, 9 hole short course etc, I don't see any issue with having a joining fee in our circumstances and it evidently isn't deterring folk from joining the waiting list, I appreciate that other clubs will be different
 

jim8flog

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We have a waiting list of nearly 50 so it might come in.

As a long term member there have been many things as part of the club that I have been asked to subsidise through the years -- new 9 hole course, new dining room, new proshop, new secretary's office, driving range, club house refurbishment. I see nothing wrong with asking for a joining fee as new members have been in effect subsidised by existing members.

The trouble is though instead of joining fees being put in to capital projects fund they just get swallowed up in day to day running costs.
 

IanM

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I'd forgotten to say that the argument at our place is that everyone else has paid it, so new entrants should too.

We are also very clear about where the entrance fees go in the accounts too. They are not allowed to be shown as revenue and are added to Capital Reserves.

We're planning a rebuild of the clubhouse, that'll nobble that!
 

Swango1980

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I was planning on joining my local club, when their membership year begins next month, but they’ve just upped prices by about 9% (maybe understandable due to inflation, as I think they’ve held rates for a couple of years), but when I enquired they said there’s a joining fee of £ 500. They’ve very recently had a new website, omitting membership rates, but the old one said NO JOINING FEE, so this is brand new.
Two other good local clubs also now have JF’s, both of which didn’t a year or so back.
Its principle more than money but I just feel these fees are BS and from a bygone age, or should be.
Golf is in vogue because there’s been nothing else to do for two years, but it won’t necessarily last, so this feels shortsighted to me.
I joined a new club last year, and had to pay a joining fee, that they only just brought back in.

However, I see the point in them. There are only so many members a club can take, otherwise a member would struggle to get a tee time. The club I joined were reaching that limit, and so brought in joining fees. This will discourage "less serious" golfers in joining, but you may still pick up more serious golfers whilst bringing in a bit of money. It looks like many other clubs in the county have also brought in joining fees.

Do I agree with it? Well, if the clubs have enough members and they are making money, then why not? I would rather have not paid it, but accepted the reason why it was there. They are also likely to generate a lot more loyalty amongst members.

I am sure it is one of those things that will go in cycles. Once memberships start to decline again, no doubt clubs will scrap the joining fee.
 

DaveR

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Nothing wrong with joining fees, the money gets reinvested back into the club to improve the facilities for everyone. If people pay a JF they are more likely to stay which helps the club budget for future projects and investments. It's no coincidence that all the best clubs have one.
 

rudebhoy

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whitley bay
I took up the game 6 years ago. My first thought was to join the club nearest me, but I was put off by the fact it had a £500 joining fee. I joined a different club a bit further away instead. I'm glad I did as I love the one I chose.

I've played the other one a few times, and don't think it's any better than mine. However it has the advantage of being slap bang in the middle of a fairly prosperous town, so I can see how folk are prepared to pay the joining fee. Also, if I added up the extra mileage over the last 6 years, it would comfortably exceed £500 worth of petrol and wear and tear, so I guess you need to look at the bigger picture.
 

Jason.H

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Nov 15, 2021
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I joined my local club in November. I paid just £50 joining fee as she said they were doing a deal. It’s a relatively cheap club and the clubhouse is a little tired. We do have a floodlit driving range and I really like the course, it’s great for the money. Plenty of challenging holes all very different And plenty of space in between them. To be honest I find it ridiculously cheap to be a 7 day member in this day and age.
 
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