THE annual golf club subscription demands have been arriving through letter boxes, bringing new pressure on household budgets, but anxious times for club secretaries.
They await the replies which will hopefully contain cheques, but will inevitably, also have letters of resignation – perhaps in worrying numbers this year.
The subs demands have been going out against the background of falling club membership and the resulting loss of income, rising club expenses and the huge army of nomadic golfers who play where they choose, without the commitment to any golf clubs and the expense of hundreds of pounds in annual fees.
An English Golf Union biannual survey of the country’s 1,953 clubs reveals that 60 per cent of those returning the questionnaires have seen membership numbers fall since 2008, a rise of 15 per cent on the figure two years earlier.
The Cheshire figures are basically in line with the national trend.
But in Lancashire, including clubs around Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley and St Helens, 74 per cent of clubs have seen a fall in numbers.
Golf is part of the leisure industry and is not immune to the economic turmoil.
The clubs are obviously aware of these tough times. Howard Williams, north west regional secretary of the Golf Club Managers Association, suggests that the typical increase in subscriptions will be less than three per cent.
One club in the Golf Northwest region reports an increase of just more than two percent.
The notices were sent out two weeks before Christmas and, even with that modest increase, the early results revealed that about 12 members had decided not to renew their membership.
Other replies are anticipated and probably with greater patience that in times past.
Members late in paying their subs are far less likely to have their membership cancelled these days.
Based on past experiences, the figure of 12 could be expected to reach 20. This time it is expected to reach 30, representing thousands of pounds in lost income – unless it can be replaced.