The Power of eClub Membership in the Colorado Golfing World: Reviving the Colorado Golf Association

Learn about the benefits of eClub membership, including official handicaps, reduced green fees, tournament eligibility, and access to private courses.

Susan Fornoff //April 7, 2023//

The Power of eClub Membership in the Colorado Golfing World: Reviving the Colorado Golf Association

Learn about the benefits of eClub membership, including official handicaps, reduced green fees, tournament eligibility, and access to private courses.

Susan Fornoff //April 7, 2023//

When Colorado Golf Association membership growth landed in a bunker around about 2000, it couldn’t climb out. Ho, hum, 18 years of stagnation. Then came the 2020 pandemic and the golf explosion. By then, the CGA was ready to roll into high gear with its high-tech tool, the eClub membership.

“It used to be, you’d have to go into a golf shop, ask a grumpy pro shop employee, ‘How do I establish a handicap?’” says CGA Executive Director Ed Mate. “You’d get a very surly, not simple answer like, ‘See that box over there? There are forms there, I think.’ And you’d fill out a form and hope it stuck. Now, it’s so simple.”

You could join the CGA in those days, but most members joined the CGA by joining a golf club, either a private club or the men’s or women’s club at their local public course. CGA Chief Marketing Officer Erin Gangloff says it wasn’t until 2019 that the CGA began promoting eClub, which allows players to go online and assign themselves to one of five Regional eClubs for a membership fee of $59.95. 

READ: Inside Colorado’s Post-Pandemic Golf Goldrush

Through 2022, eClub enrollment had reached nearly 10,000. It’s the prime driver in overall CGA growth, from 59,000 in 2018 to 76,000 heading into this year.

“They’re predominantly men over the age of 50 who do not have loyalty to a club or a facility,” says Mate. “And they’re golfers who have no interest in joining a men’s club, a women’s club or any other type of club. They just play golf with their friends. Historically, that type of golfer was on the outside looking in. They really were not welcome, because they didn’t fit. That’s now changed.”

Mate says the USGA, the national governing body of golf, jump-started the CGA’s efforts by abandoning its long-held marketing strategy of imploring golfers to “join a club” and instead promoting a link on its website that said, “GET A HANDICAP.” A Colorado resident is then directed to the CGA website.

So far, the main benefits of eClub are an official handicap, reduced green fees at CommonGround, CGA tournament eligibility and access to CGA member play days, which have consisted of recreational rounds at some otherwise private courses. With research showing the state has 250,000 core and avid golfers, the CGA is continuing to look at adding member benefits to attract the 174,000 outsiders.

Says Mate, “If we’re smart and we continue to build reasons to join and tell our story, I don’t see any reason why we can’t be at at least 120,000 members in the next 10 years.”

 

Susan Fornoff has covered golf for the San Francisco Chronicle, regional golf associations and her own GottaGoGolf.com. She is a member of the Overland Park Golf Course and Links at Highlands Ranch women’s clubs. This is her seventh Executive Golf Guide for ColoradoBiz.