A survey of UK golf clubs has found the percentage of PGA Professionals earning retainers of more than £2,000 per month has risen from 58 per cent in 2018 to 68 per cent in 2019.
The survey, which was carried out by chartered accountants Hillier Hopkins, involved 73 private clubs and five proprietary clubs.
The proportion of members’ clubs paying monthly retainers in excess of £2,000 to their PGA Professional has risen by 10 per cent over the past 12 months, although the percentage of members’ clubs paying commission to their professional has fallen below 50 per cent for the first time.
The survey also found that the proportion of club secretaries and general managers earning £40,000-plus rose from 57 per cent in 2018 to 66 per cent in 2019. There was also an increase in the proportion earning over £60,000, rising from 15 per cent in 2018 to 21 per cent in 2019.
Other headline statistics in the survey revealed that big clubs are getting bigger, with an 8 per cent increase in clubs with more than 600 members – while smaller clubs are getting smaller – with the number of clubs in the UK with between 100 and 500 members increasing by 9 per cent to 45 per cent.
In line with previous years, the average age of members continues to creep up, with a slight increase in those aged 50-plus, while there are fewer female members and fewer juniors. Over 73 per cent of clubs surveyed reported growing memberships over the last 12 months, with the proportion of clubs recording between 20,000-35,000 rounds per year rose from 68 per cent to 75 per cent from 2018 to 2019.
Almost 90 per cent of clubs are planning to increase subscription fees in 2020 – up from just 59 per cent in 2018, with fees set to go up by between 1.5 – 8 per cent.
Robert Twydle, principal of Hillier Hopkins, said: “Staffing costs, and in fact all costs, seem to be on the increase, including the amounts paid to PGA Professionals. This has resulted in a number of clubs reviewing whether to bring the services provided by them in-house, including the pro shop.
“Our survey shows increasing playing member numbers though we suspect that this is in part due to closures of clubs rather than an increase in demand. Sadly, the age profile remains consistently high, with the over-50 age bracket remaining at 63 per cent, while the previous trend of increasing lady and junior members seems to have come to a halt.
“Staff costs appear to also be on the increase so, as indicated above, this will undoubtedly result in increased income requirements going forwards though the increase to the living wage seems to have more impact on proprietary clubs. The anticipated changes over the next five and ten years give a good insight into where the golf industry is heading and is a useful list for reflection.”
To download a copy of Hillier Hopkins 2019 Golf Report, visit www.hillierhopkins.co.uk.