Potential club members still want to join, but for less money, survey shows

Golf Life Navigators survey shows good and bad
  • Jason Becker, CEO of Golf Life Navigators

A recent survey of golfers who expressed interest in buying homes and/or joining private clubs in the Sun Belt states shows both troubling and encouraging news when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the golf industry.  

For instance, only one-third said the nation’s economic condition would delay their buying decision, according to the survey done by Golf Life Navigators, which helps potential buyers find the kind of golfing community or private club that fits them best. 

Jason Becker, CEO of the Bonita Springs, Fla., firm, said the number was considerably lower than he expected given how poorly the stock market has been performing.  

“That’s the most surprising number to me,” he said. 

And the percentage of people who said it would delay their decision has fallen even further since the survey, to 27%. 

“Consumers are feeling comfortable,” he said. 

Meanwhile, 34% said the economic conditions would delay such a purchase and 33% said it was too early to tell. 

On the not-so-good news front, the survey found that 59% of potential buyers plan to lower their anticipated budget for a private club. That means they want to pay less initiation fees and dues.

After the recession, many clubs did lower such costs, which was a recipe for disaster for some. 

“To me, that’s the most troubling number,” he said. 

Golf Life Navigators is in a unique position to get the pulse of this buying population. More than 27,000 golfers have taken the firm’s online questionnaire to contact private clubs over the past 24 months. 

Becker wanted to see how the coronavirus had changed buyers’ perspectives. The survey, which got 1,000 responses, asked four questions:

1) I am currently a member of a private club? 

65% reported yes

35% reported no 

 

2) Do you anticipate the country’s economic conditions to delay your buying decision? 

(See above)

 

3) Has the threat of coronavirus impacted your buying decision for a new club/community in 2020? 

29% reported yes

44% reported no

27% reported, possibly too early to tell 

 

4) Has the drop in the stock market – and current economic conditions of our country – changed your search criteria for a club/community? Please rate 1-7. (1-strongly disagree; 7- strongly agree) 

.    I am now considering golf communities that are less exclusive (more member residents): 39% of buyers slightly-to-strongly agree with that statement. 


.    I am now considering a club with a non-resident membership so that I can live outside of the community: 42% of buyers slightly-to-strongly agree with that statement. 


.    I am now considering golf communities with lower fees (initiation and dues): 59% of buyers slightly-to-strongly agree with that statement. 


.    I am now considering a smaller house size (ex. single family to condominium): 34% of buyers slightly-to-strongly agree with that statement. 


.    I am now considering a smaller budget for my future home: 44% of buyers slightly-to- strongly agree with that statement. 


 

Becker plans to do the survey every three weeks to continue to see how buyers’ reactions change. 

As he noted on this initial release: “The data is timely, factual and designed to help us all gauge demand in the private club membership market closely so that our teams can plan appropriately.” 

One other positive sign he’s found in the trend of consumer engagement, he said. Open rates on club collaterals have remained steady. Web traffic has fallen, but not significantly.

He encourages clubs to keep communicating with prospective members. For one, people may be itching to make a move once the virus is contained and a sense of normalcy returns.

Becker noted how many people in densely populated areas are stuck in their apartments and condominiums and the prospect of moving to a Sunbelt state will only grow more enticing. 

“I tell the clubs to keep sending them information. They’re bored.” 

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