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November 2019

Making connections

Memberships: How to Generate More Signings and Revenue

By Alexandre Lavoie

Your members represent a critical core segment of your customers. Every year you can rely on most of them to repurchase their memberships and keep coming back to enjoy your golf course and clubhouse.

There are a number of strategies that you can apply to get the most out of your memberships. Here are some ways you can introduce better, more appropriate memberships that appeal to the right market at your golf course.


1 Subscription Style Memberships. This strategy is currently being rolled out by some of the nation’s biggest and best operators with some great results. Typically, these memberships allow the purchase of a month-long membership that renews automatically, much like a gym pass. Players can opt-out whenever they want and are not obligated to pay for a yearlong membership for access.

2 Monthly payment memberships.
If you don’t think the idea of a gym membership-style subscription will work at your golf course, but still want to try out a monthly payment model, you may want to consider introducing yearlong memberships with monthly payments. These memberships reduce the upfront costs that come with standard memberships and instead charge players on a month-to-month basis.

3 Flex Pay Memberships.
Taking the monthly payment model a little bit further means looking at how the value of a round at your golf course fluctuates from month to month. It makes sense that in the offseason golf should cost less, and in the high season golf should cost more. Flex pay memberships offer members the option to pay less in the offseason, and more in the high season.

4 Group Memberships.
Golf is a sport that people enjoy playing with their friends. Almost no one joins a club without knowing someone who will be there often and want to play with them. Offering two-for-one memberships or grouped memberships allows groups of friends to join and play with one another.
You may generate less money from the initial sign up, but adding these groups guarantees lots of play on your course, and over time these players will buy gear and visit your restaurant. The goal is to get a small group hooked on your operation, and they will keep coming back to play with one another and enjoy each other’s company.


Generating more membership revenue is an excellent way to build reliable customers who consistently spend money at your operation. There are many strategies you can put in place to squeeze additional revenue out of these very loyal customers. Here are a few to consider:

1 No Initiation Fees.
If you are struggling to attract new members but still charge an initiation fee, you really need to rethink this one. Why create an extra barrier to generating a long-term, loyal customer?
If you don’t want to lose that revenue, raise the price of the membership over the lifetime of the new customer, but don’t create an immediate barrier on the first day the new customer signs.

2 VIP Pricing.
To premium members, you may want to consider offering special discounts in the restaurant and pro shop. Giving a specific percentage off or providing exclusive deals are handy for making your membership feel special while encouraging patrons to part with their cash.

3 Incentivize referrals.
Leverage your current loyal customers by getting them to spread the word about your course with a membership referral program. Incentivize your members to refer their friends with free cart passes, VIP perks or gift cards when they successfully generate a signing with a referral.


Here’s what you should be looking for to help implement these strategies.

1 Subscription Billing.
If you want to implement monthly billing or gym-style memberships, you’ll need a management platform that can support automatic, monthly billing.

2 Restaurant and Pro Shop POS integrations.
Having the ability to consolidate house accounts and member profiles from all sides of the operation is critical for effectively managing member spending and house accounts.

3 Robust Package Management.
If you want to implement packaged memberships, you’ll need a system that can easily track packages. Ideally, the software you use should allow you to place the appropriate restrictions on any package you sell, such as the times and days of the week the package can be used, or whether rounds can be shared to different players.

4 Customer Loyalty and
Referral Software.
To incentivize referrals, you need customer loyalty software that offers a referral component. These programs allow you to track referrals easily, so customers are sure to be rewarded for successful referrals, and so that referring customers at the point of sale is easy.

Alex Lavoie is the marketing manager at Chronogolf. You can find an extended version of this article at


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November 2019 Issue

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