The golf season is finally here and many golf courses are finding themselves in the rough.
For private clubs, the push is on to replace members who were lost in recent years.
Honesdale Golf Club has been around for more than a century.
Lately, the number of members at the private club has gone down considerably like a lot of other courses throughout the area and the country, for that matter.
Now Honesdale Golf Club and others like it are on a drive to get more members on the course.
George Compton grabbed his driver from his bag and teed the ball up on hole number two.
Compton was one of the only ones on the course on Tuesday morning and remembers a time few decades ago when the club had lots of members.
“We had a lot of people that spent a lot money here, it was filled all the time, you had to have tee times. Now you just show up,” said Compton.
Nowadays, Honesdale Golf Club’s membership isn’t quite up to par, according to Bob Simons who is vice president of the club’s board. Honesdale Golf Club has another week to go in a membership drive.
“I’ve been here where we’ve had 325 members, now we’re down to 250 members. What’s going on, Jim, is the younger guys, we’re trying to get the 20 year olds, 30 year olds. And the 40 year olds,” said Simons.
And they’re doing it by offering deals, hundreds of dollars off of a new membership and different types of memberships, all in hopes the club can stay private.
Judy Goyette has been a member here for 30 years or more.
“A lot of people don’t even realize they can join. It’s not that expensive, not $5-10,000 from other areas,” she said.
Over at Paupack Hills Golf and Country Club near Hawley, the once private club chose to go semi-public last season.
Club pro Joe Ambrose said the move to let non-members play the course has paid off so far.
“It’s definitely gone down in the last 10 years, we definitely went back up last year,” said Ambrose.
So while some clubs experiment with both private and public golf, the aim is still the same, get golfers on the tees, fairways and greens.
“The more people we can get in here to play, the more they come back, and that’s what we’re trying to do, build up our base.”
The Anthracite Golf Association represents about 50 courses in northeastern and central PA. Its board president said many of the private clubs used to have waiting lists and now, they’re also short on members.
It’s an industry-wide problem.
* In the interest of full disclosure, Jim Hamill is joining the Honesdale Golf Club as a member.