Sobering look at the state of golf clubs in England in today's Times of London. The English Golf Union published a study that said 40 percent of the clubs in England had fewer members at the end of 2008 than they did at the start (to be fair, 23 percent of clubs had more). The survey suggests that a "demand/deficit" stuation now exists in the English golf club market: more golf club memberships available than golfers interested in filling them.
"In the 1980s and 90s, there was a big expansion in golf because the demand grew so much," Keith Lloyd, chief executive of the Golf Club Managers' Associaton, told the Times. "We built around 850 new courses in that time [there are now about 2,500 in Britain] and now we've probably got a few too many. Without suggesting that some should close, it seems inevitable that some will do so."
According to the study, there are an estimated 81,000 vacancies at English golf clubs -- an average of 46 per facility.
The headline asks "Is this the end of the golf boom?" That might be a little strong, especially considering the quote from one of Lloyd's EGU colleages, Richard Flint, who says, "The trend is that more people than ever are playing the game, but fewer are committing to golf club membership."
Still, the unarguable conclusion from the study is that the game has challenges.