12 Aug 18
It seems too good to be true and fearing there might be a catch is the reason it's a bit of a "slow-burner".
But a new junior membership category introduced by Simon Payne, PGA Fellow Professional/Secretary, at Cowglen Golf Club is starting to make headway.
The 'Junior +' membership is primarily aimed at increasing junior participation at the Glasgow club but has also been designed to attract new adult members.
"The Junior + membership allows an adult free use of the course and facilities as long as they are here with the registered junior," said Payne in taking up the story.
"I'm not saying that people are jumping on a bandwagon, but there's more coaching available at the moment than there has ever been.
"It's never been cheaper for people to get coaching for juniors, yet the number of junior members is down across the board and entries for junior events are down so that does not figure. There's a lot of reasonably inexpensive childcare going on at the moment.
"I want to try and get as many kids as possible out on the golf course and when we were young that happened because you were taken out by a parent or family member. You never got into golf through coaching.
"We are trying to put a bit more emphasis back on the parents. It's been a slow burner as the biggest challenge is to try and convince people there is no catch when they are getting something fo free.
"But, in total, we've had 12 members join as a consequence of that membership. Word is spreading. People are telling other parents.
"I am confident that, although slow, it will grow. It's about trying something different because, while there are so many opportunities, a lot of what is available is not making a massive difference."
Payne will celebrate his 30th year at Cowglen next year, having taken over as Head PGA Professional from John McTear 18 years ago then taking on the role as secretary five years ago.
In addition to the junior + initiative, he's helped increase the membership by removing the joining fee and offering an easier approach to becoming a member.
"I've had the support of the club's Council to be as pro-active as possible," he said. "We have made the process of joining the golf club as smooth as we possibly can by taking away barriers such as needing a sponsor/seconder at the outset.
"I looked at it at from the perspective of someone joining a gym. People can just walk into a reception and do that and if there's a problem they will just go and join another gym.
"Here, we have created a situation where someone can walk in to the club, fill in an application form and walk on to the first tee as a member.
"I know there is a concern about what type of member you might get in that situation, but I think it is almost self-policing.
"Last year was the first time we waived the joining fee and it was just ridiculous, even when you take into the account Cowglen is a well-standing club in this area.
"We attracted 182 new members across all categories, with a net gain of 50 as it's a bit of revolving door at just about every golf club these days.
"This financial year we've had 80 new members across all categories, gaining 15 or so overall.
"The finances of the club are very steady and that's even after a lot of investment in recent years. The clubhouse facilities were upgraded in 2010 and the practice facilities have also been improved.
"We are continually investing and we've put in 52 new lockers this year in light of the membership demand.
"I have to stress that I have been very fortunate as the Council here have been very forward-thinking while the membership have also been very supportive."
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