Have you tried getting a tee time in the past 12 months? COVID might have kept some of us out of bars and restaurants — longing for our old favorite pastimes, but golf literally became THE SoCal “thing” to do.
With a 20%+ increase in rounds played, we all know how packed tee sheets are, but those “in the know” have found the key to nabbing that coveted time on the first tee: Joining a local golf club. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the stats below and see just how much club golf has taken off in the last year.
Type 1 Golf Club:
Type 2 Golf Club:
Okay, so club membership is growing by leaps and bounds overall, but which specific golf clubs are seeing the most growth? Here are some of the top growing Southern California golf clubs (of more than 50 members) this year out of more than 1,300 golf groups:
In the heart of Ojai is the home of Soule Park Golf Club. Club Official Keith Brown said that the key to their growth is a combination of factors. “The big key is improvement of the course itself,” Brown explained. “Setting the club at a low price point to get as many members in, and the setup of a great schedule of events. Success builds upon itself and we really develop the trust of our local golfers.” The Soule Park Golf Club also has a wide variety of monthly tournaments that have more than 100 players each. They have a great mix-up of individual and team formats and have a season long player-of-the-year point system to keep their members engaged and interested.
“We have a positive culture, with a great team of people who embrace the concept of a golf club and make every day a great day,” Brown added. “It really shows and people want to join because of it.” It’s no wonder they’re in the #1 spot!
With their home course comprised of mostly par 3s and 4s, members agree that it is the perfect club for beginners, juniors, and anyone who loves the game and is looking to sharpen their skills. With outings every Sunday morning, monthly tournaments, and a club championship with plenty of prizes, Colton Golf Club has a lot to offer their membership to keep them involved in the game.
Northrop Grumman Westcoast – 84% increase in membership
This club’s motto is “bringing fun to work.” Playing courses in the San Marcos area gives these Northrop Grumman employees and their family members the opportunity to travel, play in invitation-only competitions, and have a ton of plain ol’ fun outside of the office. As the company grows, so does the club!
Club Officials at Cypress say that their goal is to ensure that “golfers enjoy the opportunity to improve and compete at all levels, to display good sportsmanship, and to make new friends.” They participate in a wide variety of informal and competitive events and formats like skins and team play. They also offer great benefits in addition to the SCGA benefits like discounts, tee time reservations, and other special tournaments. Their members are passionate about their community and even host events to raise money for local charities.
Genuine camaraderie is at the center of Montebello Golf Players Club. Board member Raymond Mojica stated, “We have a great diversity of cultures. We all like to have fun, communicate with each other, and we get a lot of feedback from our members through our newsletters and social media.”
Their home course is currently under threat from a proposed Top Golf development, but their members remain loyal and engaged. Mojica explained, “Our members even wrote to the city council and attended meetings to protest.” Their strength also lies in communication and having an active board of directors who put on monthly tournaments, outings, and contests with over 100 participants. “We’re getting a lot of results. Even though we’ve been around a while, we’re still growing because of referrals and positive word-of-mouth.”
What they’re doing seems to be working as they have created a loyal and enthusiastic community of golfers.
Trends in the overall golf industry reveal how and why these clubs are breaking record numbers. Taking a look at the whole country, the National Golf Foundation (NGF) stated that 36.9 million Americans played golf on and off the course and 3 million played on a golf course for the first time in 2020.
Why? The simple answer: “less resource competition – fewer commitments, fewer trips, fewer available activities, and fewer ways to spend disposable income”(NGF). With golf being one of the safer activities during the pandemic, it presented a perfect opportunity for those to play more rounds and for beginners to get out and learn the game.
The work-from-home environment certainly made it easier for people to get out and play rounds, including the “emergency nine” where new and experienced golfers played shorter rounds in the afternoon and evening in those extra hours of daylight.
There has also been a rise in off-course golfers – those that play at facilities like Topgolf, driving ranges, simulations, etc., especially as more cities open up and loosen restrictions. These venues are more approachable and less intimidating so it boosts confidence and facilitates a greater appreciation and desire to play the game more seriously.
With increased confidence and a greater interest in the game, there’s no question as to why many people are joining golf clubs. Golf clubs offer a sense of community and belonging, competition, opportunities to learn, and a way to get you out on the course as often as you want. There are clubs for any skill-level, gender, age, and the list goes on. With 36.9 million golfers playing all over the country and 17,000 new Southern California players joining clubs this year, you won’t want to miss out on all of the fun. You also have no excuse now that “normal” golf is back with things like shotgun starts, 19th hole openings, and the removal of pool noodles and rounds with strangers.