Students tee up a strategy to help drive golf tourism

September 4, 2019

New research carried out by business students at Northumbria University is set to help golf clubs across the North of England to futureproof their operations and drive revenue

Keen to grow golf tourism in the area and tackle the financial challenges facing local clubs, the Northern branch of the Golf Club Managers Association (GCMA), approached The Business Clinic at Northumbria University for help.

The GCMA – which represents and provides professional support to 1800 golf clubs across the country – identified a two-year stagnation in financial performance for many of its members based in the North. It reached out to the education scheme that brings students together to form a ‘consultancy firm’ – with the aim of solving a specific business issue and providing free advice to clients. Working on a project basis, the students analyse the problem, consider potential solutions and provide a detailed report with a full presentation of their recommendations to the client.

Eager to step up to the challenge was Sterling Consultancy, a team of four final year business students. They analysed the state of the UK
golf market and then researched the approach of clubs in the North and Scotland that are thriving in comparison to their counterparts.

The team identified a lack of exposure regionally and nationally for golf tourism in the Northern region when compared to Scotland and Southern counties. The students uncovered frequent failures to maximise the value and reach of digital marketing with many websites in poor working order or lacking functionality across mobile devices.

Peter Jobe, regional manager at Northern GCMA, reflects: “The golf industry has changed enormously. Traditionally, marketing was never a major requirement; the sport was always popular attracting members of all ages. Now, clubs need to operate as a business and, where internal marketing skills and resources are in short supply, they need to be developed to appeal and engage with today’s younger, digitally savvy audience.”

Sterling Consultancy devised a range of practical recommendations to drive greater participation in golf for local people and visitors, including taking a collaborative approach with clubs working together to offer golf holiday packages across multiple courses.

“I’ve been extremely impressed by the students’ report and recommendations,” says Peter. “The team identified valid, inexpensive solutions to help managers to grow and run a profitable business.

“We are now considering taking the report to the next level by developing a social media marketing strategy and Northern Golf Week events.”

Speaking on behalf of Sterling Consultancy, Business with International Management student Abby Wiffen, says: “This was genuine work experience for us. As a team, we developed a good client relationship with Peter and I think we have presented real solutions that will add value to clubs and bring tourism benefits to the local economy.”

Peter is also looking at the feasibility of putting a business student intern into a golf club to produce a marketing programme, which could be adopted by most golf clubs through Northumbria University’s Santander Internship programme.

Northumbria University
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