Golf clubs up and down the region are looking at their memberships and many are considering or have implemented initiatives to attract new members - and that's why Tynemouth Golf Club has taken stock and moved with the times. Although Tynemouth is one of the healthier clubs in the region, it has introduced silver and bronze membership packages.
Club secretary Tim Scott said: "Tynemouth is of the opinion that there are a high proportion of golfers who are unsure whether or not they want to take up full golf membership in view of the costs involved.
"The silver and bronze schemes allow golfers to not only play golf at a reasonable cost but to enjoy the feel of belonging to a club. We believe that these schemes are an ideal stepping stone into full club membership."
The silver package is basically a 50/50 scheme over two years. A new member pays 50% of the entry fee which is offset against the full entry fee should he or she decide to fully join at the end of the two-year period.
The annual subscription is also 50% and a new member under this scheme receives one free round of golf a week with any additional rounds costing 50% of the green fee.
The bronze package is a 75/75 package over 12 months and is designed for midweek golfers and particularly ladies who are considering taking up the sport.
A new member under this scheme pays 75% of the entry fee and 75% of the annual subscription. He or she will then receive a 75% reduction in midweek green fees and will have to pay 75% of the green fee if playing at weekends.
As we reported in the March issue of Golf North East both the presidents of Northumberland and Durham County voiced their concerns at the decline in club memberships and what could be done to reverse the process.
And earlier this year, figures released by the English Golf Union revealed that the country's 1,959 clubs had lost 22,000 members in two years - and that's not taking into account what has happened during the past nine months.
The average age of a golf club member is closing in on 60 at an alarming rate and there is a major shortage of golfers between the ages of 18 and 35.
Clubs are beginning to realise that they have to act quickly and some are introducing measures in attempt to bolster their memberships.
Tynemouth is an urban club situated in a densely populated area and if it has decided to offer cheaper golf memberships, those clubs in sparsely populated areas have to seriously consider how they can attract younger golfers to their courses.