Clubs Aim To Attract New Demographics In Pandemic Golf Boom
In recent years there has been much hand-wringing over golf’s aging demographics and the overall decline in participation.
The Great Pandemic of 2020, however, has breathed new life into the ancient game. A record number of players turned out to play in an environment that is simultaneously social and “socially distant.” Being out-of-doors with friends was a panacea to the ill of being confined to homes for work and school.
The National Golf Foundation says that rounds at public courses in 2020 increased by 9.4 percent. Rounds at private clubs were up 16.5 percent.
Club Benchmarking, a firm that tracks private clubs says that 34 percent of private clubs saw a gain in membership in 2020. Similarly, the National Golf Foundation says that 64% of private clubs reported being in good or great financial shape, which is up from 46% in 2016.
Anecdotally, I saw far more young people and women on the course than ever before. That also is a terrific trend.
Perhaps recognizing the growing interest in golf, along with the potentially changing demographics, many private clubs are adjusting their initiation fees and dues in hopes of converting this immediate interest into long term memberships.
Here in Ann Arbor, the venerable Barton Hills has advertised several membership deals of late. And on a national level, a recent press release from Champion Hills in North Carolina caught my eye. That club is offering an “Equity 55” program that spaces out the initiation fee and reduces dues for new members under the age of 55.
These clubs — among others — are seizing the opportunity that presents itself. Carpe Diem.
The complete Champion Hills press release follows:
Champion Hills Offers New ‘Equity 55’ Membership
Western North Carolina’s Premier Private Club Responds to Demographic Shift
(HENDERSONVILLE, N.C.) – Champion Hills, Hendersonville’s premier golf community, is responding to a seismic demographic shift in private club demand with its new “Equity 55,” a full golf membership designed for those age 55 and under.
With Equity 55, Champion Hills’ $40,000 initiation fee is divided into four equal payments over four years, dues and replacement reserve fund contributions are reduced by 50% and the club’s $800 annual food and beverage minimum is prorated for new members.
Offering complete access to the club’s amenities and activities, Equity 55 members enjoy Champion Hills’ mountain-style Tom Fazio-designed golf course, clubhouse with pub and fine dining, wellness center, tennis and bocce courts, pool and hydro spa and more.
Like the club’s social and full golf membership, Equity 55 members’ vertical family can also experience the club without being accompanied by a member and do not incur golf green fees when playing Fazio’s mountain masterpiece.
Member-owned, Champion Hills is managed by Troon Privé, the private club operating division of Troon. Through Troon Privé Privileges, members of Troon Privé-managed private clubs receive extraordinary golf and lifestyle benefits throughout the world. Qualified Champion Hills members enjoy access to 100+ Troon Privé golf courses; opportunities to experience more than 150 Troon Golf resort and daily fee locations at preferred rates; access to amenities at participating private clubs (fitness facilities, tennis, aquatics and dining); preferred benefits at participating Cliff Drysdale Tennis clubs and resorts; and much more.
“The Greenville, S.C. to Asheville, N.C. corridor is one of the fastest growing and most-desirable regions in the Southeastern U.S.,” says Champion Hills General Manager and Chief Operating Officer Dana Schultz. “People of all ages enjoy the safety, sanctuary, camaraderie and amenities that private clubs can offer. Equity 55 meets the upswell in demand by a younger demographic in search of both a club and community to call home.”
The club is the centerpiece of the Champion Hills community, which boasts a broad array of residential options – luxury homes, low maintenance cottages, lock-and-leave villas and a limited number of building lots – suiting a wide variety of buyers. Lots range from .5 up to 1.5 acres, with prices from $50,000 to $300,000. Move-in ready luxury residences range from $500,000 to $3 million featuring golf course, mountain and wooded views.
Fazio’s former home course and club, and the legendary golf course architect devised a brilliant routing through Champion Hill’s heavily forested hills, deep ravines and cool mountain streams of its Blue Ridge Mountain setting. He and his team of shapers pulled ridges into valleys and filled hollows to create “playing platforms” providing golfers with level lies amid 350-feet of elevation change.
Said Fazio about his mountain masterpiece: “Six holes play slightly uphill on the entire course, but only six. Overall, the majority of holes play downhill. We did it through grading and do it through transition areas from the green to the next tee.”
About Champion Hills
Champion Hills is a private boutique club in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just above Hendersonville and 30 minutes from Asheville. At Champion Hills, residents enjoy the perfect balance: a relaxed lifestyle that offers golf, tennis and much more.
All surrounded by the recreation, entertainment and culture of western North Carolina. Unlike many private, seasonal, mountain communities, Champion Hills offers year-round golf, activities, and casual and fine dining options. And since 2013, property ownership is no longer a requirement for Champion Hills membership. For more information, visit www.championhills.com or call (828) 696-1962.
Headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., Troon is the world’s largest golf management company providing services at 585-plus locations around the globe, including managing 630-plus 18-hole equivalent golf courses. In addition to golf, Troon specializes in homeowner association management, private residence clubs, estate management and associated hospitality venues. Troon’s award-winning food and beverage division operates and manages more than 490-plus food and beverage operations located at golf resorts, private clubs, daily fee golf courses and recreational facilities. With properties located in 40-plus states and 30-plus countries, Troon’s family of brands includes Troon Golf, Troon Privé, Troon International, Honours Golf, OB Sports, Indigo Golf Partners, CADDIEMASTER, True Club Solutions, Cliff Drysdale Tennis and RealFood Hospitality, Strategy and Design. Troon-affiliated properties include Princeville Makai Golf Club on Kauai; Champion Hills in Hendersonville, North Carolina; Ocean Club in Paradise Island, Bahamas; and Vattanac Golf Resort in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. For additional news and information, visit www.Troon.com, or connect with Troon on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Troon Chronicles, Press Room, or subscribe to Troon Magazine.