Golf Clubs and Juniors

The issue of juniors playing golf at and being members of golf clubs has been a topic of conversation since the concept of a club was first conceptualised.  It is most unlikely that the Gentlemen members of the day saw any value in junior members.  Indeed, for several centuries ladies had no rights and there were no lady members, let alone junior members!

To this day there are certain clubs hosting Major Championships who cannot count a lady amongst their membership.  As far as I am aware, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, who are the hosts for this year’s British Open, is one such club.  It is only recently that Augusta National, home to the US Masters, has invited its first lady members.

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Clubs with such membership limitations are fortunate in the modern world to remain part of the Major Championship circuit.  Hosting the British Open is of major benefit to a club.  It attracts many visitors to the Clubs.  Are people attracted because of the wonderful golf course or because the golf course plays host to the most famous Championship in the world?  Perhaps the clubs open their courses to the public because they feel that they are contributing to the wellbeing of golf by allowing golfers to play on their distinguished land?  Or perhaps the clubs enjoy the additional revenue generated by the many visitors that they host?

If one of these eminent clubs loses their British Open status for whatever reason, will they still be able to survive in 20 or 30 years time on their current financial model.  It seems unlikely – out of sight out of mind is the more likely scenario.

Most Golf Clubs do not have the benefit of hosting televised events which put the club in lights and attract both members and visitors.  The question then is as times become tougher and costs soar how will Golf Clubs remain sustainable moving into the future?

I grew up in a wonderful members club and although there weren’t many juniors at the club 40 years ago they had fantastic policies in place to encourage juniors:

  • No matter what your age; if you got your handicap below 18 then you could play with the senior members on a Saturday afternoon
  • I personally played scratch league for the club from the age of 13

These two initiatives alone integrated me into the club culture.  I learnt the value of etiquette playing with the older members who were in turn teaching me the club values.  I learnt how to compete as a sportsman and my respect and love for the game and its rules have impacted my life in a very positive way, thanks to a club and a tolerant membership who valued their juniors, and you may well ask how that club is doing – currently they have 1100 members of which 8 have been members for over 50 years.

Parents and teachers the world over wish their children and students were physically more active. If one relates this to the game of golf, this wish is cut off at the knees if club members don’t embrace the concept of juniors playing golf and respect and understand that on occasion teenagers will make mistakes. The juniors need to be encouraged to play and participate so that they, as the next generation, can help sustain the heritage of our clubs and help to ensure that they are sustainable.

Creating a club environment for the entire family is positive and it will surely help to ensure the future of the great game of golf?

“Junior membership creates the foundation for a sustainable club.” – Highly respected Golf Club Director Jeff Clause



Roger Wessels
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