The Cut : The Cut - Autumn 2017
92 THE CUT 92BRENDAN TELFER I s there a more onerous job in New Zealand golf than running a golf club? Declining membership coupled with an ageing club membership (when I last looked the average age of a golf club member here was 57 years), plus spiralling costs – is it any wonder many clubs are struggling to stay afloat? A NZ Golf board member once said to me the biggest problem the sport faces here is a surfeit of courses. Quite simply, he said, “we have too many golf courses”. This just didn’t make any sense to me. How could any country have too many golf courses? Surely the more you have, the more choice you have, making it easier for golfers to play whenever and wherever they like. And that’s deemed a problem? Having more than 400 courses, as we do in New Zealand, is one of the very reasons playing golf here is viable and financially accessible to most of the population. In other words, isn’t this just simply the old supply and demand theory at work? Of course, maintaining 400 courses at an acceptable playing standard does impose a considerable financial cost on the golfing community, which unfortunately brings us back to our board member’s lament. Does New Zealand really need 400 golf courses? The latest playing numbers released by NZ Golf incidentally highlight another age-old problem that seems intractable: most golfers in New Zealand don’t belong to a golf club. Figures show traditional club members total 106,412, but casual golfers number 400,000. So only one golfer in five belongs to a club. Why won’t golfers join a golf club? It’s a question for which no one seems to have an answer. And on the issue of club membership, NZ Golf research shows the average club member plays 28 rounds of golf a year. So if your annual membership is $1,500, that equates to $55 per round. When your sub is $2,000 (like many are in Auckland now) that means you’re paying $71 for each of those 28 rounds of golf you play at your club. And with a $3,000 sub, it’s costing you over three figures every time you play, which means it might be time you joined a cheaper club or took up bowls or darts, both of which are definitely less costly activities to pursue. Here’s a curious paradox. While clubs are struggling, our two major championships, the NZ Men’s and Women’s Opens – which for years have been bleeding slow and costly deaths – have of recent times shown real signs of rude health. The Men’s Open has for so long hobbled along like some poor TEE UP & CARRY ON Jeff Wilson takes a drop away from the ‘beasts’ at The Hills during the NZ Open.
The Cut - Summer 2017
The Cut - Winter 2017