As the old saying goes, "The early bird gets the worm." While this typically applies to early breakfast deals or happy hour specials, it's now becoming more relevant at golf clubs, too. And not for the early morning tee times.
In fact, many longtime club members are missing out on prime events because they simply don’t sign up early enough. But this wasn’t always the case. So, how has RSVP etiquette at the club changed over time? And what should you know about registering for events?
Five or ten years ago, golf club members had a tendency to rsvp to events last minute, according to Kay Zeigler, director of catering and membership at North Oaks Golf Club. It makes sense, to an extent, that belonging to a club would give them the impression there’s always room for them. And back then, when membership was down because of the economy, there was plenty of room. But golf club memberships are on the rise and so is the interest in events.
Not only are there more members, but more club engagement means events fill up faster.
Clubs and communities are experiencing turnover. Long tenured residents are now downsizing and putting their houses on the market, and young families are buying them — looking for family-friendly activities, like those offered at a golf club, in the area. "We have so much more family activity," Kay says. "These days, family is key."
Rather than getting a sitter for a couple’s night out, they are bringing their children to the club. Members now look for events involving their kids. "Those are the events we see wait lists for," she says.
Now that memberships are on the rise, club coordinators are prioritizing event exclusivity. Instead of allowing members to register non-member guests right away — taking spaces away from members who register later — they limit the number of participants and restrict it to members only.
"For the more exclusive events, we have to limit attendance in order to really do an outstanding job to deliver an extraordinary experience," Kay says.
Typically, if there are open spaces as the event approaches, the club will open it up to guests. At North Oaks, guest spots are opened two weeks prior to the event. But that’s also typically when the waiting list starts to grow.
So, what should you do if you want to ensure your spot at your club’s event?
Coordinators constantly do their best to make members aware of upcoming events and activities at their clubs. Here’s what to look out for:
- Family Guides: Members usually receive a guide of most the club’s activities throughout the year. These guides will give brief descriptions of each event, date, time, and who can participate.
- E-Mail Blasts and Push Notifications: Don’t sleep on those email blasts from your club. We know your inbox can be overcrowded and overwhelming, but it might also contain important information about upcoming events at your club.
- Online Registration: Registration for most events starts online as soon as the family guides go out. If you know you want to attend an event, register as soon as possible, then mark it on your calendar.
Get On the Waitlist
If you didn’t register for an event early enough, for whatever reason, put your name on the waitlist. It may seem like a lost cause, but many clubs will try to squeeze in a few extra members if at all possible, and cancellations happen, too.
And, if you’re one of those members who reserved far in advance but needs to cancel, be courteous. Let the club know as soon as possible that you won’t be attending, so they can offer your spot to someone on the waitlist.
So, the next time you really want to attend an event, secure your spot as early as possible. You won’t regret it!