Hotel and Leisure group De Vere has celebrated the second anniversary of its De Vere Club, calling it the fastest growing golf membership scheme in the UK.
With membership of golf clubs across Britain in general decline, joining fees and waiting lists at private members clubs are increasingly rare as clubs battle for business.
De Vere identified a gap in the market and in 2010 approached the “voice of golf,” Peter Aliss, to launch the De Vere Club, an alternative to traditional golf club membership.
The broadcaster and former Ryder Cup player was named Honorary Captain of the scheme, which offers golfers the chance to play 16 premium golf courses at 11 De Vere venues across the UK, for an initial payment of just £295.
Daniel Hodson, De Vere’s Director of Golf, Leisure, & Spa, commented, “The 2nd anniversary is a significant milestone for the De Vere Club.
At a time when golf memberships across the country are static or declining, it’s great for us to be able to offer amateur golfers an affordable way of becoming members at some of the best courses in the country.”
Membership of the club entitles golfers to play at championship layouts such as Slaley Hall in Northumberland and The Carrick on Loch Lomond.
In just two years, the De Vere Club has attracted several high profile members, including Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff and Harry Redknapp, as well as TV golf personality Sophie Horn.
De Vere says that golfers value the flexibility of playing at several quality courses while still retaining the benefits of a single club membership.
Hold a handicap and play competitions
Members are able to nominate a ‘home club’, hold an official handicap, and play in club competitions, without being tied to a single course.
The points based system has meant that the De Vere Club member is free to play their designated ‘Home Club’, but still travel to other De Vere venues and experience the same benefits as a regular member.
While the scheme offers a lot of the same benefits as traditional golf club membership, some golfers feel the scheme does not offer the social benefits and sense of belonging that comes with playing regularly at the same club and course.
Global Golfer asked its current “Golf Writer of the Month,” Paul Atkinson about the De Vere Club model.
A four-handicap golfer and long time member at Ramside Hall Golf Club in North East England, Atkinson said: “There is a lot of merit in the business model, but if you really want to build long lasting and genuine relationships and play against people you know in competitions, then the traditional golf club model still holds more appeal for me
It is more expensive to pay an annual membership but then you have the luxury of unlimited golf, greater numbers of competitions, league teams and the opportunity to test yourself competitively against your peer group.
I think it will take a huge cultural change before the De Vere model becomes the norm for golfers in Britain.”
There is a limit to the number of times a De Vere Club member can play golf at the 11 designated venues around the UK. A points allowance system enables you to play at several venues nationwide, with some venues, such as The Carrick at Loch Lomond requiring a greater outlay of points than venues such as Slaley Hall or Wychwood Park in Cheshire.
If the points allowance runs out, golfers have the option of ‘topping up’ and continuing to play as normal.
Club membership also offers discounts on hotel rooms, spa, golf equipment, food and drinks, plus an attractive referral package if friends and family join the De Vere Club.
For more information on the De Vere Club visit www.thedevereclub.co.uk or call 0844 980 8060.