It’s April so it must be Golf Season. Actually, the professional golf season has been going on for sometime now. However, for most of the real world of golf it is not until Spring when the snow thaws and the temperature rises when the millions of US golfers take to the golf course. That is also when the private country clubs start their seasonal golf operations.
Spring golf is when the revenue meter starts moving up at most private golf clubs, or at least it should be going up. Along with Spring and the starting of the golf seasons comes the hope from private golf club’s owners that this will be the year more golfers start playing more game.
Take Advantage of Stronger Economy
The private Golf Club sector can only hope the golf economy improves since how the general economy goes so does Golf. Fortunately for the private golf clubs the millions of golfers who take their game serious prefer to spend their dwindled golf budget at private golf clubs. But…are the private golf clubs working to keep them happy so their golfing members will stay?
Since, 2008 the private golf club sector of the golf economy has really struggled. The drastic decline in golfer’s discretionary income forced many golf clubs to file for bankruptcy or just lock up the gates. The weakened economy also put a lot of casual golfers out of work making the number of people playing golf drop drastically.
The private golf clubs who had in place an innovative management teams were able to hang on. The members of these surviving private golf clubs sacrificed a lot, like poorly maintained golf course, potholed parking lots and over the top high prices for food and drink. Now that things seem to be improving..it probably is time to reward them for hangin on and for paying the bills.
Can’t Keep Denying Nothing is Wrong
Most of the private golf club’s owners started turning their backs on the golfing members since the Golf part of the operations was pulling heavily at the club’s budgets.
Fortunately, the economy is starting to loosen up a bit and the golf club owners, who took the path of denying the fact the economy was in a recession, now have had to take a bullet to their budget. They face the fact that if they are going to attract new members they are going to have to forgo paying for the expensive redo of worn-down golf courses, dilapidated clubhouses and tarnished reputations.
The reality now is the current membership, as well the next generation of members who have yet to join the club, will be paying for these costly renovations for years to come. To make through the renaissance of private golf clubs the owners will need more than ever a strongly committed membership in order to recover the investment they are now forced to make.
Start Taking Risks
The question now will be..what do the private club owners need to do to keep their golfing members happy.
Truly, the private golf club sector will need to remember who has been paying the club’s bills during these hard times. Yes, golf members spend on average 40% more than the other members of a private country club. They do this through the purchase of grossly inflated golf equipment, food and huge bar bills. The owners and managers of private golf clubs need to keep their golfing members happy if they are to keep them as a member of their club.
The most effective way to keep them happy is to keep the golf pure, the pace of play fast and the atmosphere loose. This is pretty easy to do if the private golf club owners drop their efforts to make the facility look like a resort and move into the real world of realizing that the club is a club…not a shopping center.
It is going to take more than white sands in the bunkers and 12 ft wide cart paths to keep the private club golfing members happy. Private golf clubs need to take advantage of the opportunities they have now in capturing their interest in playing golf. What are those opportunities?
Well..I thought you would never ask.
Opportunities Private Golf Clubs Should Capture
Private clubs should start right now to capture the opportunity to create events that will be something every golf member will remember. Creating a lasting fond memory of something that took place while they were a member will go a long way in helping the club grow it’s membership. Slick PR and multi-million dollar marketing campaigns will be for nothing if the members of a country club are not happy. So make them happy by producing events that interest golfers.
There are a few things private golf clubs can do to make their golfing members happy. Here are just a few
1. Watching Parties:
Most, but not all, Private Golf Club’s ignore the opportunity they uniquely have in organizing professional golf tournament viewing parties. The four PGA and three LPGA major professional golf tournaments make for prime opportunities to service the interest of their golf members. This is a great revenue source for the club and offers up a function golfers can bring guests to join in the festive atmosphere of the club.
2. Staff Skins Game:
Skins games and other match play golf games are what over 90% of golfers play on a regular basis. It is an easy game to understand and produces more excitement than other formats of golf.
So, why doesn’t the club produce a Real Skins game to be played amongst their professional golf staff for all of the membership to watch. This gives the members an opportunity to see the professional staff play golf; allows the members to build a loyalty towards the club’s professionals; and builds some excitement amongst the golf staff of there being more to their job than shag golf carts.
The pro staff’s play..no matter if they win or lose during the skins match.. will trigger support by the membership towards their teaching abilities which enhances their revenue horizons well after the event. Making the Skins Game an annual event will keep the morale up the golf members and pro staff throughout the year.
3. Play With a Staff Pro
One of the most exhilarating round of golf I ever played was with one of the young professionals who worked in the golf shop. The few hours we spent out playing golf was not part of any lesson or course management teaching. It was just the pro and three other members enjoying something all liked to do..play golf. This one little opportunity to see the level of golf these young professionals could be the only time a member of the private golf club gets to play with an accomplished golfer.
The memory of playing with a accomplished golfer will produce a positive experience that will be something the golfing member will remember. It could be the one thing that gets a golfing member to stay with the golf club if the time comes to decide on affording the membership or not.
4. Generational Tournaments
Another event that many private golf clubs seem to glance over is the opportunity to organize golf events for the family. There is nothing more memorable than playing golf with fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, grandkids, sisters, brothers, husbands and wife’s. All at the same time.
5. Business Golf Events
Of course, I have said it many, many..well too many times, the number one thing almost all country clubs overlook is that every member of the club..yes even the retirees..are in business or have business connects of value to others.
Organizing monthly business golf events would keep the business people coming to the club. The secret is to make sure the business golf is played properly and not just promote the event as a 6 hour sales pitch.
Business Golf is still one of the most misunderstood business tools available to golfers and is the one most business people attempt to play without knowing how business golf is to be played. Private Golf Clubs offer the best venue for business golf and should capture the opportunity to bringing in new members who are interested in having another reason to play golf.