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John Handley

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Is golf in England under marketed?
« on: September 20, 2023, 02:11:54 PM »
I posted a while back about a trip I am planning for England next year. I have not played golf in England but have been to Ireland and Scotland 5-6x each. Many of the responses I received talked about how good the golf is in England and is possibly/probably better than Ireland and/or Scotland.


So, since then, I have proceeded to do a ton of research over the past couple of months and feel like I have a pretty good sense of golf in England (that is without actually playing, so no I am not an expert).  But it did make me think, Ireland and Scotland do a great job of marketing themselves to Americans, especially.  Many guys from my clubs and friends of friends go to Ireland/Scotland but few have been to England for golf.




Which leads me to my question, is golf tourism under marketed in England?  Is there the same set up where clubs make much of their operating budget from visitors to keep costs low for members? Or, like US clubs, are they more about the members and just allow some visitors?


I know there are England Golf experts in this forum so I would love to hear your thoughts......

Sean_A

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2023, 02:19:51 PM »
Golf in England is under advertised. I am not sure why. However, just as in Scotland and Ireland, the famous clubs rake in visitor cash. Many second tier clubs often depend on visitor cash. The biggest difference with England is the draw of the inland courses and opportunities to see clubs as clubs, rather than meat markets pushing busloads of tourists through the doors. I expect this will change, at least to some degree.


Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

John Handley

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2023, 02:28:29 PM »
Sean A- Thank you for your reply, I was kind of counting on you. :)


Do you think the clubs, especially let's say Top 100 in England, have a desire to drive more visitor play?  Or are they happy at the mix now and not having 12 or 16 Americans getting out of a Mercedes Sprinter van.

Sean_A

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2023, 03:47:19 PM »
Sean A- Thank you for your reply, I was kind of counting on you. :)


Do you think the clubs, especially let's say Top 100 in England, have a desire to drive more visitor play?  Or are they happy at the mix now and not having 12 or 16 Americans getting out of a Mercedes Sprinter van.

The very top clubs are mostly ok I would think. But once you go beyond top 10ish I would think most would like more visitor dosh. The vast majority of clubs will never get enough visitor money.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

mike_malone

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2023, 03:50:41 PM »
Sean A- Thank you for your reply, I was kind of counting on you. :)


Do you think the clubs, especially let's say Top 100 in England, have a desire to drive more visitor play?  Or are they happy at the mix now and not having 12 or 16 Americans getting out of a Mercedes Sprinter van.

The very top clubs are mostly ok I would think. But once you go beyond top 10ish I would think most would like more visitor dosh. The vast majority of clubs will never get enough visitor money.

Ciao


Sean,


Love your top ten of that beyond top ten courses that are good values.
AKA Mayday

Stewart Abramson

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2023, 03:55:52 PM »
I recently returned from my fourth golf trip to England. I played 8 excellent courses and didn't run into another American visitor except at Rye. With the extremely high green fee inflation of the past few years (even at many second tier clubs), they can rake in a lot of cash without having to advertise for additional visitors. The members I met were very welcoming, but I didn't get the impression that they were particularly interested in increasing play from more American visitors. Most of the courses had tee sheets that were filled by members and/or competitions.


I think that the really big name English clubs such as  Hoylake, Lytham St Annes, Sandwich, Birkdale and Sunningdale etc. tend to be the focus of most American golf visitors to England. There are so many excellent English courses that most American golfers haven't even heard of.

Tom_Doak

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2023, 04:43:13 PM »
There is a Scottish Tourist Board and an Irish Tourist Board, both of which have massive budgets to promote tourism, and both of which spend a good part of that $ promoting golf tourism.


There is no English Tourist Board promoting English golf, so you don't hear much about it, and the clubs themselves would have to spend more than they wanted to in order to promote themselves.  There may be a few of them that don't realize how lucky they are not to be overwhelmed by outsiders, but I think most of them have been to Scotland or Ireland enough to understand it.

Ed Galbavy

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2023, 02:49:26 PM »
We traveled to England last year.  Played Burnham & Berrow, Royal Porthcawl and the Open courses near Liverpool and in the Southeast of England.  The courses really didn't seem to need to market themselves for outside play because I think it would of impacted their member's play.  Kind of like playing Muirfield.


Playing these courses was an incredible experience.  But as far as undermarketing, I think it is on purpose.

Thomas Dai

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2023, 03:54:29 PM »
With so much information available online these days Iím not convinced Tourist Boards need to get involved with golf.
Now some may not like the words that follow but as someone who has experience of being a member at quite a few UK clubs including some high echelon private members clubs too many visitors irrespective of how much they are paying is an issue.
Not the greatest feeling being a member of a private members club and standing in the carpark at your club, the club you own, viewing the first tee and the queue to play from it congested with visitors. As someone I know once said ďThis club and course are my garden and I own it. Visitors are welcome to come and experience it but on my terms not theirsĒ. Harsh maybe but Ö.

Atb
« Last Edit: September 21, 2023, 04:12:50 PM by Thomas Dai »

John Handley

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2023, 04:47:54 PM »
Thomas-


I hear your point and that is the feeling most members of US clubs feel. Thatís why the model is different.  You have to pay for exclusivity.  $250k down, $1500 per month probably wouldnít go over well in the EU. 


Iím sure the top clubs donít need the marketing and extra play from visitors.  But it is nice for us to be able to experience the great courses and great clubs.  Iím very appreciate that they operate that way. But I understand the other side too.


I think clubs probably need to find the balance that works.  For Muirfield, itís Tues and Thurs only. 


My guess is that clubs who arenít in the top 10/20 might be open to more visitors. 


The whole point is that Scotland and Ireland have done a great job at marketing themselves as golf destinations.  England, while having a rich supply of great golf, has not done that. Maybe itís by choice or not. I donít know. 

David_Tepper

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2023, 05:50:34 PM »
John H. -

While most English clubs may not attract many visiting Americans or other tourists, I think a number of clubs do generate revenue from making their courses & clubhouses available to local organizations/chambers of commerce/trade groups/etc. that hold golf outings for their membership once or twice a year.

I ran into a couple of these outings when playing a few of the clubs outside of London years ago. 

This is a bit similar to how many private clubs in the U.S. host outings on Mondays, when their facilities are often closed to their memberships.

DT




Craig Disher

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2023, 09:06:05 PM »
Marketing is a term that's hard for me to associate with golf in England. The courses I'm familiar with are financially sound, have a strong and loyal membership, yet are happy to host visitors because they are proud of their clubs and want to open them to visitors who would appreciate the experience. Additional revenue is not necessarily a factor. Tee times open to visitors are often scarce  during summer months due to increased member play. However, I'd never discourage anyone from playing golf in England if they're willing to do a little advance planning. The quality of golf is no less than what's available in Scotland or Ireland and there's a better chance of playing with a member and getting a better feel of the club. And it should be known that the weather is generally better, especially in the south. :)

Stewart Abramson

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2023, 09:19:28 PM »
John H. -

While most English clubs may not attract many visiting Americans or other tourists, I think a number of clubs do generate revenue from making their courses & clubhouses available to local organizations/chambers of commerce/trade groups/etc. that hold golf outings for their membership once or twice a year.

I ran into a couple of these outings when playing a few of the clubs outside of London years ago. 

This is a bit similar to how many private clubs in the U.S. host outings on Mondays, when their facilities are often closed to their memberships.

DT


They call them society days and corporate days. The first time I played New Zealand, I was the only visiting golfer other than the London Nordic Society who were there for their society day. I was invited to join them for breakfast and the round, and many of them thought I was part of their society. Their names included an Isbrantsen, a Jacobsen, a Nielsen, an Andersson and an Alfredson. Many of them thought that Abramson was part of the group. I was complimented on how well I spoke English and some of them guessed that I learned it it America rather than in the UK. ;D . I think a few were disappointed to discover that I was an American. It was a very fun day.

David_Tepper

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2023, 12:21:35 AM »
Stewart A. -

Very funny (to me) that you played New Zealand on a day the club was hosting a society outing. I played New Zealand many years ago after I showed up at St. Georges Hill one morning hoping to play there. That club was hosting a society outing that day and there was no room for me to play. But the club secretary was nice enough to call over to the New Zealand club to see if I could play there. I could and I did.

DT

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2023, 03:16:31 AM »
Most overseas visitors seek out the Open rota or former rota courses firstly and perhaps couple up with their neighbours. As mentioned the world has changed and its easy to find on the internet the information you need right up often to the ability to make the booking online.


Andrew Cooke has tried hard to raise the platform for second tier golf courses in England. I am not sure if he is still trying. Personally I think most people have already decided where they want to travel, so 'marketing' in the old sense no longer works.


Get a good website.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Jeff Schley

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2023, 07:22:37 AM »
I have seen Ireland and Scotland have similar tourism revenue between 4-5 billion a year.  England is over 125 billion.  The royal family effect on tourism i was surprised to read is almost 2 billion a year in revenue.   


I would think england is promoting other endeavors outside of golf as they have much more to promote overall.
"To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice your gifts."
- Steve Prefontaine

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2023, 07:30:24 AM »
England is a very different country from any of the other component parts of the British Isles, with over 56 million inhabitants, against less than eight million on the island of Ireland (ie both sides of the border), five million in Scotland and three million in Wales. And that has a number of different consequences.


Firstly there can't sensibly be any countrywide marketing campaign on the lines of the iconic "Wales: Golf as it Should Be" campaign that really created the golf tourism industry in Wales. There are regional groupings in some areas such as the "England's Golf Coast" organisation that markets the Lancashire links, but a nationwide one does not and cannot exist. It's impossible to brand 'English golf' in the same way -- it is too big and too varied. The distances involved are too big as well -- if you were stupid enough to arrange a trip on which you played Goswick after St Enodoc, you would be signing up for a 500 mile, ten hour drive -- the longest comparable distance between two high end courses I can come up with in the other countries is a 290 mile drive between Southerness and Dornoch. And so "going to play golf in England" will never have the same identity as going to play in one of the other countries.


Then there is the fact that, in general (though there are obviously areas where this is not so) England is significantly more affluent than the other countries. So many of the top courses do very well thank you just from their membership fees and the visitor income they get without doing a lot of marketing. I know that Sunningdale, for example, does a massive sum (the last number I heard was about £2 million a year) in total visitor revenue, and that was before they put the cost of a 36 hole day plus lunch up to £500! Clearly there are fine courses in England that would very much like more visitor revenue, but it isn't really feasible for an individual golf club -- especially one in an area that isn't on the beaten track and is not desperately well-off -- to market itself to overseas visitors, unless, like say Royal Dornoch, it already has iconic status. For any golf club, a balance has to be found between serving its members and attracting external revenue -- Dornoch is the key example here, it must earn the highest proportion of revenue from non-member play of any golf club in the world; it is no wonder that it feels like a very high end pay and play sometimes. Clubs in more affluent areas, with a substantial number of members who are themselves reasonably well-off and successful in life, don't want to go down that route.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Author, 'More Enduring Than Brass: a biography of Harry Colt' (forthcoming).

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

David_Tepper

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Re: Is golf in England under marketed?
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2023, 10:25:50 AM »
There is some organized promotion of golf tourism in Cornwall:

https://golfincornwall.com/

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