Adult membership decline slowing but where’s the ‘Rory factor’ among junior membership?

Junior members are vital to the future of clubs

Junior members are vital to the future of clubs

Adult male membership at golf clubs has been decimated in recent years but there are tentative signs that the worst may be in the past.
Figures released by the GUI Ulster Branch following the recent ADM reveal that senior men’s membership in 2013 showed a three per cent decline on 2012 figures to 35,458, with branch officials also hinting that the figures for 2014 will reveal a drop of less than one per cent.
To put that into context nationally, the Leinster Branch recorded a decline of 3.6 per cent, Connacht Branch dropped 6.5 per cent and Munster Branch five per cent during the same period.
The total figure nationally for 2013 stands at 133,354, a drop of 5,655 on 2012 and still a long way removed from the 177,000 male members registered with the Golfing Union of Ireland in 2007.
In contrast, the figures for junior male membership at clubs during the period 2012-2013 are of more concern – certainly at first glance.
The numbers show a decline across all four provinces and fly in the face of any resurgence in interest produced by the so-called ‘Rory Factor’.
In Ulster, the drop was 6.3% to 5726, in Leinster it was 8.4% to 8961, in Connacht it was down 10% to 1229 and in Munster it was 10.5% to 5161.
There is a lot of good work being done across the land both inside and outside clubs to ‘grow the game’ but based simply on the numbers, it would seem that this is not translating into juniors joining clubs – a worrying trend.
The numbers of course don’t tell the whole story, the figures don’t accurately reflect the numbers of juniors playing the game at clubs. The figures relate specifically to the number of junior members who have a GUI card and a recognised GUI handicap.
The simple fact of the matter is that there is no uniform approach to how juniors join and are administered at clubs and unfortunately that means that it is nigh on impossible for the GUI to provide accurate data on how many juniors [for this article juniors are considered to be those U18 years of age] are actually club members.
There are any number of reasons why a ‘uniform system’ is not in place – for example, regional and local demographics, attitudes of club members towards juniors and the lack of volunteers to run programmes etc etc.
One of the contributing factors – one that could be dealt with directly by the GUI – involves the cost of the GUI card itself. There is a fee – approximately £5 – attached to each card registered via the GUI system.
When the squeeze is on, and clubs are trying to cut costs, there is an understandable reluctance on behalf of some clubs to automatically register every junior who comes through their doors.
If the GUI were to do away with that fee, it might encourage club officials to register everyone and that can only benefit the organisation in terms of providing accurate data.
There is a general consensus that getting more young people interested in the game and then into clubs is essential to the long term future of the game but ‘guessing’ at the numbers involved isn’t really good enough.
The GUI already has the system in place to track membership patterns, it’s time that was expanded to include juniors.

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One Response to “Adult membership decline slowing but where’s the ‘Rory factor’ among junior membership?”

  1. KK Says:

    Hi how do i follow yr blog please very interesting. Tiger Khan

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