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Golf clubs slash their prices as slump puts them out of bounds

GOLF club memberships have plummeted by 25pc and waiting lists at once exclusive golf clubs have now disappeared.

Crisis-hit clubs are now begging for new members and are dramatically reducing membership and green fees.

Kevin Mulcahy, from Golf Management and Marketing Services, says: "Membership numbers are down by about 25pc. It ranges from 20 to 30pc, depending on the golf club.

"Green fees are also down by the same amount. A busy golf club might have earned around €1m a year but now they're down by €250,000, which is a huge cut off their income."

Golf clubs are now "in a very serious situation" and the industry needs to change in order to adapt to the recession, according to the management expert.

Some well-known golf clubs went under last year, with Anglo Irish Bank appointing a receiver to Tulfarris House, AIB appointing a receiver to the d50m Blarney golf development, in Co Cork, and Bank of Scotland (Ireland) appointing an examiner to Macreddin golf club, Co Wicklow.

"In the past, they would just go to the members and add on a levy, but now that would just drive people away.

"There was a time when clubs had waiting lists, but now suddenly 100 members are not renewing and the waiting list has disappeared.

"If you took an income loss of €250,000, it's a very serious situation for clubs. You have clubs closing down and others barely hanging on. There are a few clubs where receivers have been appointed, and they need help."

But the golf clubs that will be able to survive the recession are those that are reducing their fees and advertising attractive golf resort packages.

"There are an awful lot of clubs saying 'no joining fee' and they just need to get members in. It's more important to have an annual membership than to have the joining fee," he said.


"There's a sea change out there. I think some are quite aggressive [in changing] but others are still stuck in the past. Some still have a high joining fee of €3,000."

Mount Juliet has dropped its green fees from €160 to €120, and Portmarnock reduced its fee to €50, from €140 two years ago. Mr Mulcahy added: "The average club is probably charging €1,200 a year in membership fees, which is a pretty big whack, and some clubs are at €2,000 or €3,000 a year."

Mr Mulcahy said the younger golfers should be targeted.

He added: "Young people want to play golf but they're just starting out on their career so they don't have enough to be spending on golf memberships."