What Wait-listed Club Members Want


May 16, 2022

The following blog post was contributed by Jason Becker, CEO of Golf Life Navigators. 

Prospect sentiment toward waitlists should provide both concern and opportunity for the private club industry.

“Golf, even at its peak levels of popularity, still comes with challenges.” –Joe Steranka, former CEO of the PGA of America.

Joe’s words likely echo many current boardroom discussions across the country as clubs enter into an era that might not have been foreseen just a few years back – waitlists.

– What do prospects expect while waiting?

– How much would they be willing to invest into an initiation to hold their position?

– Can we get wait-listed members on the golf course with a tee sheet that is already stressed?

Over the past several months, we have been approached by industry colleagues in search of “a bit of clarity” on what would be acceptable as a wait-listed member. We wanted to find out as well. A survey was sent to more than 550 prospective private club members who are actively in search of a private club and golf home. The overall objective was to gain their thoughts on waitlists and overall expectations of an ideal scenario, while in waiting.

The Results

After completion of the study, Golf Life Navigators’ position is that clubs who currently have a waitlist should be cautious with assumptions toward their waitlist numbers. On average, 70% of prospects (across all initiation ranges) do not have intentions of joining a waitlisted club that is 12 months or longer. In addition, an average of 50% of prospects said they would change directions completely and look at alternative clubs to avoid a waitlist. In short, closing the gates completely on new member applications could lead to a costly mistake as we predict waitlist dilution based upon the data collected.

No Waitlist – Yet

For those clubs who are not yet in a waitlist era, we implore you to broadcast the fact that you have membership availability and an open tee sheet. Issues of capacity at clubs during season months are a hot topic, not just from your members but prospects as well. Golf Life Navigators’ partner real estate agents say their active golf clients are pivoting from an intended club to alternative clubs that have instant availability of both memberships and tee times. Even if that means buying into another market across the state.

The biggest takeaway from this report is that we have good problems on our hands. The demand for private golf and real estate remains at all-time highs with no signs of slowing down. The goal for management is to now think through the solutions and lead their members in the right direction with data, best-practices, and good ole’ gut feeling.

Consider the following prospective member sentiments as you look at your waitlist.

How likely would you be to join a club with a 12-month waitlist?

Unsurprisingly, those with the most available resources are less likely to stay on a waitlist. However, if it feels like a right fit or a club they really want to belong to, they’ll tolerate a waitlist to some degree.

If you were to join a waitlisted club, what amenities – or access – would be important to have as you wait to become a full member?

Without a doubt, prospective members would like to have some access to the club. But what’s important varies.

To learn more about Golf Life Navigators and get the full report, click here.

To learn more about how Clubessential can help you accelerate experiences for your members and prospects, enabling you to recruit and retain the right members check out our Club Management Software.

Can’t wait to learn what you can do to manage your waitlist? Let us give you a Custom Consultation.

About the Data Collected:

– A survey was distributed to Golf Life Navigators users the last week of February 2022.

– Over 550 prospective members responded to the survey, defined as those that self-identify as in search of a private golf membership with intentions to join a private club in the coming days or months.

– The data reporting was tiered to initiation range so clubs at any level can gain intel. GLN asked 14 questions and over 100,000 data points were collected.

There was no reward or prize for taking the survey. The data collected should be used for context and informational purposes only.