In a recent edition of the The New York Times, reporter Bill Pennington explored the effects of the economy on the private club industry.
He goes on to explain how scores of people have relinquished their country club memberships to save money, and thousands have suspended their memberships for a year. Many private clubs, attempting to maintain their high levels of service and hefty operating budgets amid the recession, have responded by discounting, delaying or waiving initiation fees. Annual dues, often in the range of $10,000 to $20,000, are being restructured or offered in installment packages, and senior members are being solicited for short-term loans to keep some clubs financially stable.
The nation’s best-known and most selective country clubs have been the least affected, and private clubs offering discounted fees might be in the minority over all. But at least 500 clubs nationwide are scrambling to raise their cash flow, according to a recent survey by the National Golf Foundation. As many as 15 percent of the roughly 4,400 private clubs reported serious financial challenges.
Membership at these at-risk clubs, as NGF termed them, is down about 30 percent, and 90 percent of them reported that they had tried recruiting new members with discounted initiation charges. Even among clubs that described themselves as financially healthy, about half said that they, too, had at least experimented with discounts.
Citing specific examples across the country, the article explores the proactive ways clubs are seeking to keep afloat as the demographic of prospective members have changed with people now wanting fitness centers, junior programs, casual dining and programs that engage the whole family.
To read the article visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/sports/golf/18golf.html?pagewanted=2&ref=golf
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