Case Study: Open Day Success at McDonald Ellon


Ahead of the summer, McDonald Ellon Golf Club identified a need to grow its membership, with a particular focus on beginner female and junior golfers. With their existing membership base made up of mainly older males, McDonald Ellon needed to think outside the box in order to attract membership from alternative areas and create a steadier financial footing for the future.

Planning and collaboration

Keen to drive this change and with the support of Scottish Golf, Club Secretary Mike Morrice set about creating and implementing a new dynamic business plan to increase the level of interest of the club and golf within the community, which included hosting an Open Day.

As a first step, the club committee met with Scottish Golf Regional Club Development Officer Iain Evans to assess the current situation, challenges and aspirations, agree to short, medium and long-term goals and to highlight the tools and support that the club could access from Scottish Golf to help achieve them.

During the 90-minute planning session, Iain and the Committee undertook a thorough and honest fact-finding discussion to get to the root of the club’s issues, then looked at potential solutions, including the creation of a Get into Golf membership package to sell at their open day.

Get into Golf is an initiative designed to help introduce new players to the game in a fun and welcoming environment, appealing to people who have never played golf but like the idea of giving it a go.

The Open Day was promoted through targeted flyers and posters within the local community. The time between planning and open day was less than three weeks demonstrating what can be achieved through collaboration within a short timeframe.


A high-impact Open Day was held on Sunday 24th June to showcase the benefits of joining the club, with a particular focus on female and junior golfers. Alongside a BBQ and giveaway competitions, the ladies team and junior convener were in attendance to chat to prospective members and talk through the flexible membership options available to new players. All attendees registered upon arrival, allowing the club to target attendees with relevant membership and coaching offers via their email marketing tool.


Following the Open Day, the club utilised Scottish Golf’s Get in Golf resources and delivered a taster evening for women, held in late summer.  As a result, the club is now running three regular coaching sessions for 25 female novices to pick up the sport under the mentorship of some of the club’s female golfers and the Club Professional, Sandy Aird Jnr, with the ladies having full access to the club’s practice facilities. The classes have proven hugely successful thanks to the helpful advice and promotion tips provided as part of Scottish Golf’s Get into Golf package.

The club intends to run the same ladies programme throughout the year until winter, with another Get into Golf campaign to follow.

To progress the medium and long-term objectives highlighted during the club’s committee meeting with Iain Evans, Scottish Golf will continue to support the club to undertake a Governance Review and Action Plan, as well as the creation of an operational Business Plan aiming to further support the future sustainability and success of the club.


  • A total of 66 new members joined the club during the Open Day: 42 male members and 24 female members, with 18 of those members under the age of 16.
  • 25 female golfers signed up to regular coaching sessions following the taster session.

What They Said

McDonald GC Secretary Mike Morrice expressed his pleasant surprise at the level of interest the Open Day created and whilst the club was very grateful to receive applications for such a large number of new members across all categories, it was particularly pleased with its success in attracting new lady members.

“We’ve set ourselves a very high benchmark indeed for next year’s open day” said Neil Whyte, Club Captain, “But we intend to rise to the challenge having seen what can be achieved.”

Iain Evans, Club Development Officer at Scottish Golf added:

“I love nothing more than when a club challenge us to come and help – in this case huge credit must go to the club for making such a great success of their Open Day. Whilst we can advise on best practice, give some useful tactics and access some funding, the success of the day will inevitably depend on the effort put in by the club staff and volunteers. If any other club would like to more about how they can plan and deliver their own tailored Open Day, which can be a great short-term income generator as well as providing new members, your Regional Club Development Officer is here to assist. It all starts with a simple fact-finding and planning session and working together from which big and quick wins can be enjoyed.”

Get Involved

Scottish Golf’s Club Development Officer for the region, Iain Evans, supported the club during this journey by hosting a planning meeting for Get into Golf and junior participation attended by the Club’s Officers and Conveners.

To find out more about the support Scottish Golf can offer to help your club, please contact your Regional Club Development Officer.