Almost 100 golf clubs across the country are on the brink of financial collapse following two decades of declining memberships.
New data from Golf Australia shows clubs shed 117,000 members in the past 20 years to an all-time low of 383,000.
Fifteen per cent of players on the Gold Coast abandoned their memberships in the past year alone, and patronage dropped by more than 10 per cent on the New South Wales Central Coast.
In response to widespread drought, twice as many members walked away from regional clubs compared to their metropolitan counterparts.
Golf Australia development manager David Gallichio said the sport’s peak body was working urgently to stem the exodus and had prioritised resources to distressed clubs.
“We know when a club closes, two-thirds of people who played there will not play again. That’s really concerning for us,” he said.
“When a club closes, it isn’t coming back either.”
Why are members disappearing?
While the sport’s attrition rate concerned Golf Australia, Mr Gallichio described it as a “gentle decline”.
“When you look at the national numbers, we are only looking at a loss of 1.7 per cent of our members in the past year.”
He said the membership numbers did not fully tell the story of the game’s state of health.
“People are playing more golf casually than ever before, and you will find that rates of non-organised participation are trending up across almost all sports.”
The main barrier to playing, he said, was time, and recognised that clubs had failed to respond to the needs of modern consumers.
“The world has changed and we haven’t adapted to that.
“We need to be offering new and interesting things, not just the standard 18-hole competitions on the weekend.”
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