Archive for the ‘membership structure’ Category

Guest Blog: Lowering Membership Price without Lowering Membership Price

Monday, January 9th, 2012

The market price for club memberships has fallen in almost all markets.  Many clubs are reluctant to reduce their membership prices, because either it sends a negative message about the club’s financial condition or adversely impacts the economics for membership resales.  Clubs can implement creative programs to increase membership sales in this marketplace, without officially decreasing membership pricing.

1. Non-Refundable Membership. A club with a refundable membership can begin to offer a non-refundable membership at a significantly lower price, without lowering the refundable membership price.

2. Limited Golf Membership. Clubs may offer a less expensive alternative to the full Golf Membership:

  • Sports Membership – members required to pay greens fees, and generally limited in the amount of golf that they can play.
  • Associate Membership – member may play golf without paying greens fees, but only off season or during weekdays.

3. Membership Financing. Interest-free financing for three to four years.

4. “Drive Before You Buy” Program. Member pays low fee upfront without obligation to pay full membership joining price, and member chooses six months or one year later whether to pay the balance of the purchase price and continue membership privileges.

5. Junior or Legacy Member Program. Club offers memberships on special terms to people under a certain age (such as 40 or 45) or to existing members’ children:

  • reduced price;
  • low initial price, with balance payable when member reaches age 40 or 45; or
  • long term zero-interest financing of five to ten years.

6.   Certificate or “Friends and Family” Programs. Member may refer their friends and family for membership at reduced membership pricing.

Clubs should carefully consider many factors before implementing any of these special programs, including the impact on any resigned members sell lists (in case of refundable memberships), impact on marketing of regular memberships, and possible change in the camaraderie of the membership as a result of attracting a different type of member.

Glenn A. Gerena

Glenn A. Gerena, a shareholder with the national law firm of Greenberg Traurig, P.A., concentrates his practice on structuring, documentation for, and restructuring club membership programs.  You can read more about the author at, and read more club related articles by the author at

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

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