Golf is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious sports in the world. Embodied by etiquette and played with patience, it’s not your typical high-octane sport. Unlike football or rugby, it’s a sport which has frequently struggled to capture the imagination of those who are not part of the older generation. Recent efforts such as offering shorter 9-hole courses have in some way improved its appeal to the wider population but the underlying factor of cost is still a significant barrier. Golf club memberships are notoriously expensive and prices have often deterred those with intentions to join. Unfortunately it’s an aspect of the game which has caused it to gain the unfavourable reputation of being ‘elitist’.
GolfSupport.com decided to find out how long local residents in different towns and cities across the UK would have to work in order to afford golf club membership in their respective area.
We selected 18 of the most popular towns and cities outside of London: Southampton, Leicester, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Coventry, Norwich, Oxford, Leeds, Nottingham, Liverpool, York, Swansea, Aberdeen, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Edinburgh. The next step involved finding out the average cost of golf club membership in each of the towns and cities. This was achieved by selecting five golf clubs in each location – the criteria for a golf club to be picked as one of the five was that it needed to be at least an 18-hole course as well as be in close proximity to the town/city.
Photo credit: James Sullivan 1975/Shutterstock
Once the five golf clubs were selected for every town/city, we sought to find out the cost of a full membership at each golf club. With the cost of full membership identified for all five golf clubs, they were then added together and divided by five to give the average cost of a golf club membership for each town/city. It should be noted that a few golf clubs provided a different full membership rate for men and women, so we added the cost for both genders together and then divided it by two, to give an average overall full membership price. Additionally, using the full membership prices of five different golf clubs in all the chosen areas allowed for greater representation to reflect what the average cost was for joining.
Utilising data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), we then found out the mean full-time weekly wage of local residents in each of the 18 towns and cities. Residents in Edinburgh had the highest mean full-time weekly wage at £696.30. Contrastingly, Leicester residents had the lowest mean full-time weekly wage at £521.50.
The final stage entailed dividing local residents mean full-time weekly wage by 40 hours to show their income per an hour. 40 hours because it constitutes the amount of time classified as ‘full-time’ work. Thereafter, the average cost of membership for golf clubs in each location was divided by local resident’s earnings per an hour to reveal the exact number of hours and minutes they would need to work in order to pay the price of joining under a full membership category.
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Our analysis discovered that golf clubs in Newcastle Upon Tyne are the most affordable for local residents, as it would take them just 41 hours and 36 minutes to afford a full membership. Just above Newcastle Upon Tyne, are those golf clubs in Aberdeen, where residents would have to work slightly more at 43 hours and 13 minutes to purchase a full membership. Local residents in Edinburgh, who have the highest mean full-time weekly wage at £696.30, would have to work the third lowest at a manageable 44 Hours and 47 minutes to afford full membership at their respective golf clubs.
On the other hand, Southampton have the least affordable golf clubs for local residents, as they’d have to work for an astonishing 79 hours and 42 minutes to pay for full membership – the equivalent of 10 working days. Leicester, whose local residents have the lowest mean full-time weekly wage at £521.50, would have to work 79 hours and 24 minutes to gain full membership – the second highest after Southampton.
Overall, golf clubs in 50% (9 out the 18) of the reviewed towns and cities would require local residents to work more than 60 hours in order to afford membership.
We also decided to conduct our own survey to gather the views of local residents from all the reviewed towns and cities in the research to find out if they thought the membership prices of golf clubs in their area were of good value. The survey received a respectable 560 responses from a variety of local residents. Including those that were already apart of golf clubs as well as those seeking to join. The results of the survey overwhelmingly revealed: