Better Golfers Make For Better Members


Better Golfers Make For Better Members at Your Golf Club

In what I believe is one of the most important studies conducted by the National Golf Foundation in many years, Private Clubs need to study the “Passion for Golf by Average Score” chart below.  If a Member has a score of 105, his passion is a 2.  If another Member shoots an 85, their passion is a 9.  When times are tough and each of these Members must decide whether to retain a Club Membership, which will probably say and which will resign?

So my question:  Why do we not go out of our way to teach Members to be better golfers?

“Better Golfers Make for Better Customers:  Given that the demand for golf has not grown for several years, much attention is now being paid to player development with programs such as Get Golf Ready, Play Golf America, Link Up 2 Golf, etc. The major focus of these programs is on new and returning golfers. But what about strengthening commitment among existing golfers – is it possible? Would it pay? Research by NGF suggests it just might.

The Skill-Passion Connection

In a recent survey, we asked Core golfers (those playing eight or more rounds a year): “All things considered, how would you rate your passion for playing golf?” Respondents could choose any number from 0-10 where “0” was “not at all passionate” and “10” was “extremely passionate.” We also asked about average score on an 18-hole regulation course. Results show that there is a correlation between passion and score – the higher the passion, the better the score and vice versa. Of course, passion and score are also related to play frequency – the golfer who plays more scores better and is more passionate.

Once golfers begin to break 100 regularly, the passion starts to grow (see chart below). Once they break 90 regularly they move into the 9-10 passion range – these are the “golf nuts” we’re looking for.

Passion for Golf by Average Score

While we can’t answer the chicken-and-egg question of which came first – the passion or the ability – we can look at the importance of instruction in increasing commitment and growing the game. Some key observations:

  • 95% of Core golfers have a strong desire to improve
  • 80% say they are willing to work on their game
  • 81% believe they are capable of improving


  • Only 23% took a golf lesson in the past 12 months

And, 40% don’t know of a teaching professional they could go to

Conclusion: There are plenty of players who want to improve and believe they can do so with the help of a golf professional. Time and money are barriers to golf instruction, no doubt, but they are surmountable barriers for the majority of golfers. Course operators need to get their pros out on the range engaging customers. Maybe the first step is a brief lesson or a clinic – what about after-work clinics that are fun and sociable? – eventually progressing to one-on-one instruction. As in virtually every endeavor, you have to ask for the order.”


Jim Kass
National Golf Foundation  Director of member research and communications
1150 South U.S. Highway 1 #401

Jupiter, FL 33477

Jim Kass has been director of member research at the National Golf Foundation (NGF) since 1995.  During that time he has conducted numerous research projects, including the annual golf participation studies, annual tabulation of golf facilities in the U.S., rounds played reports, proprietary studies for leading golf companies, and special reports such as Minority Golf Participation in the U.S. (2003) (for GOLF 20/20), A Strategic Perspective on the Future of Golf (2007) and The Future of Private Golf Clubs in America (2008).

Since 2002, Kass has also written NGF’s member communications including the Golf Industry Report newsletter, the e-newsletter Inside the Ropes, as well as special reports available only to NGF members on NGF’s Web site.

Mitchell L. Stump, CPA

Mitchell L. Stump, CPA, PA

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