The Revenue Club has reported another excellent year of growth for the UK and Ireland golf industry with visitor revenue increasing to a record high.
The average club generated £163,952 in casual green fee income over the course of the year that was made up of 65% online bookings and 35% from offline revenue (phone and walk in sales). The overall total represents an 8% increase on 2022, with online sales driving the greatest proportion of the growth, adding an extra £10,196 to the average total as more golfers elected to book their rounds online.
There was an 8% drop in member play which took effect early in the year that was possibly due to the cost of living crisis, and this opened up additional course capacity. Coupled with a dry February, this led to an excellent first quarter for visitor sales that set clubs up well for the remainder of the year. Although prolonged periods of good weather were confined to the months of May and September, the changeable conditions did not appear to dampen the enthusiasm of golfers to get on the course. Over the course of the summer high levels of play were sustained despite the unpredictable conditions, before dropping sharply in November and December as wet weather prevailed.
One of the main contributing factors to the growth was the uplift in average green fee which reached its highest annual level of £26.80 per person – a 5% increase on 2022. There was a slight drop in the average group size to 2.16, so the rise in the average rate did not quite translate to the same growth in average sale price, which was up by 3% to £58.16 per booking.
A clear indication that buying patterns and demand continues to evolve is the growth in volume of web traffic to golf club booking engines. The average club had 15,438 users shopping on their online tee sheets in the last 12 months which is 7% up on the previous year. Encouragingly, this traffic converted to bookings at the same rate of 10% which shows that golfers were not put off by the higher rates that were on sale.
Rob Corcoran, Director at The Revenue Club, said: “The outlook for 2024 is very encouraging as green fee revenue growth has progressed steadily through the year with increases of 17% and 33% in November and December respectively, despite the poor weather. Supported by the uplift in demand and the gradual rise in prices, proactive operators can look forward to a fifth consecutive year of growth in this area of their business.
“Continued focus on online sales and rapidly developing digital marketing channels will once again be the key to realising this potential by adapting to the playing and working patterns of UK and Irish golfers.”
The Revenue Club works with 175 golf courses throughout the UK and Ireland, helping them to generate additional revenue through their online channels through dynamic pricing, digital marketing and CRM services. Its reporting suite REPORTS.GOLF recorded £38m in visitor sales in 2023, making it the biggest collection of visitor golf data available to the UK and Ireland golfing markets.