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UK & Ireland Golf Industry Annual Report 2022

The Revenue Club has released its annual report on visitor revenue, detailing the sales trends from 140 clubs that generated £22m in green fee sales across the UK and Ireland in 2022.

In the first full year since 2019 that has been unaffected by Covid restrictions, the level of visitor green fee revenue at the average UK and Ireland golf club reduced by 2% to £158,688.

Although the market was well ahead of 2021 at the beginning of April due to the enforced closures in the previous year, the head start that had been achieved in the first quarter had been considerably reduced by the end of May. In the peak months of June to August, sales were at similarly high levels as summer 2021 which was assisted by the exceptionally hot weather and record temperatures. Then, as the days shortened in the autumn, sales reduced at a faster rate than the previous year and were considerably lower in the wet and cold months of November and December.

One key area of the visitor green fee market that continues to grow is direct website sales which were up by 2% at the average golf club to £95,161 which represents 61% of green fee sales. Offline sales remained steady at 32% of the green fee mix, and there was a 33% reduction in the volume of revenue from brokers.

Encouragingly, there was an 11% increase in the average green fee across the UK and Ireland to £24.73. Where the majority of courses have been keen to increase prices to cover higher costs, it is possible that the more expensive rates and inflationary pressures on consumers are a contributing factor to the drop in overall revenue.

An area that illustrates the reduction in demand is the web traffic on booking engines which was down by 4% over the course of the year. The conversion of this web traffic to bookings remained the same at 11% which suggests that the higher prices were not off putting to golfers, but that there was a lower number of people playing the game.

As part of the ongoing partnership with Sporting Insights, the figures will be fed into their industry report to add a greater level of market intelligence for golf course operators.

“Sporting Insights are delighted to be a partner of The Revenue Club and this valuable data provides a great insight into how clubs throughout the country have fared in 2022. We look forward to combining this information with our wider macro industry figures to continue to monitor the state of golf in 2023.” Said Richard Payne, Director at Sporting Insights.

Looking ahead, Director at The Revenue Club Rob Corcoran has said “The coming year presents additional challenges with the existing pattern of winter sales currently operating at a lower level than the start of 2022 suggesting there could be a further reduction in the short term.”

“The cost of living crisis may lead to a drop in the amount golfers are prepared to spend on playing this year, or it could lead to a shift in the way they pay for their golf with more individuals electing to revert to nomadic playing patterns following the membership boom of the last two to three years. Golf clubs will need to be agile to react to the probable changes to ensure they are well positioned to make the most of the demand, and the likelihood that golfers are likely to be even more savvy with how they spend their money in 2023.”

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