A number of our clients have been using trial memberships over this summer to great effect. One has signed up 90 new members on their trial and so far has converted 14 out of 15 into 12-month members! You can’t argue with those numbers.

In this article, Sam Poole of Leigh Golf Club explains why they are so successful:

A trial membership is designed to attract those golfers who have always wanted to be a member of a golf club but have been put off by the big upfront commitment.

It will also attract lapsed golfers back to the game and those who stopped playing as they did not feel they were getting value for money.

It has been used within other industries to great effect for years, the health and fitness industries are a great example of how successful trial membership can be.

This type of membership is also likely to attract a younger audience to the club.

What makes a good trial membership?

  • Must include the majority of benefits a full member receives in order to create a worthwhile experience
  • Benefits should include, bar discount, advanced online tee booking, handicap and competitions. If weekend competitions are under subscribed allow trial members to play. You can set the rules for board competitions but as minimum trial members should be able to play midweek competitive golf
  • Competitively priced at the same or a fraction less than the standard pro rata price in any given category of membership
  • Host new members evenings and give trial members the opportunity to meet other members and form golfing partnerships
  • A person can only have one trial membership
  • Make available in the summer when the course is at its best
  • Joining process must be quick and easy with the start date selected by the incoming member

 Benefits of offering a trial membership

  • Many nomadic golfers are interested in golf club membership but have never been a member of a club before. A trial membership allows them to get used to the idea of membership and make an informed decision when it comes to a 12-month commitment
  • Will put your club at the front of the queue for golfers who are considering taking up membership for the first time
  • Lapsed golfers can give membership a try again to see if they can ensure better value for money
  • There is no better opportunity than getting potential full members for years to come at your golf club and selling them all that is great about membership

Common Objections

  • Generally, the main objection is that the club is potentially giving away cheap golf in the summer months when the course is at its best
  • There will be those golfers who just come for the trial over the summer and do not go onto full membership
  • Is this the “type” of member the club is looking to attract, they should want to join the club because of its prestige not because a deal is being offered
  • To answer all those objections, yes there will be a few that will join, take advantage of the course over the summer and not commit. But those golfers are never likely to join a club, they will travel around and play a couple of times a month at different courses. They may play your course once or twice over the summer. With this type of golfer, it is a real victory if you can get a trial membership out of them. They may bring guests and spend in the bar and pro shop also. That golfer that just comes for the trial could still be worth a few hundred pounds in secondary spend alone. Also that golfer may not be ready for membership at that time but chances are when they are, they will come to the club that treated them well during the trial.