As the Club President of Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo, I have experienced lots of success in my efforts to grow the club golf program at our university. Most of our club’s success has been a result of marketing ourselves out to the student body along with the strategic design of our membership system.
Making sure every student at your university knows a golf club exists is the most important step. Too often I’ve had new members tell me they didn’t know our club existed, so I made a goal to have at least two club outreach events every quarter in a large communal space on campus that has high foot traffic. Myself or other board members in our club would set up a sizable putting surface and a table with a google form for potential members to sign up with our club.
Sometimes this would work quite well, and other times we would only get a couple new members. The most important take-away from this, however, is understanding how powerful it is to get new members that sign up, then turn around and spread the word about us to their friend groups. The majority of our new members every quarter do not come from the events we host, but rather emails from students we have never met that have heard about us by word of mouth.
Image: Last year's National Champions, Grand Canyon University, have over 100 members of their golf club.
When it comes to our membership, our policy is, “less is more.” After getting on the phone with other Club Presidents around the country in varying regions, I got a better idea of what worked and what didn’t. The conclusion we came to was not to charge one big fee of $200+ to each member that included payment for tournament fees and such. To be more inclusive of all interested students, we instead decided to charge a membership fee of $35 each semester which only includes access to membership benefits such as discounts and eligibility to compete in tournaments. This way of approaching club finances has been our leading attraction to the student body at Cal-Poly.
Finally, you can’t do it all on your own so get help from friends that are interested in helping develop your club! These things look great on resumes and are powerful tools for helping understand how to manage people and events for future opportunities.
Best of luck to everyone next season, and feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if I can help you in any way.