Five Ways to Create a Clean Database

Have a List Building Mindset

Your database is more valuable than the land that your golf course sits on, yet it receives the least amount of attention.  Chances are that you have taken great lengths to make sure your grass is green and well manicured.  How much time have you spent to help grow your database?  If you’re like most golf courses, you’ve spent less than five minutes even thinking about it.

Since the term database seems more like a computer programming word, I’m going to put its importance into perspective for you.  Your database is your Guest List to the daily party at your course.  That’s right.  Every day, you’re throwing a great party.  You’re waking up early to make sure the food is prepared and your lawn is manicured.  You’re throwing out the red carpet and providing a great experience.  You’ve called in extra help to make sure the traffic flows well and the clubhouse is clean and tidy.

My question to you:  Who are you inviting to your party?

Most golf courses spend hours preparing for the party and completely forget about the guest list.  Your guest list has old addresses, bad emails, wrong phone numbers and you rarely bother to send out the invitations.

If your Guest List is old and tired, here’s some great ways clean up your Guest List (database).


Just like sometimes you have to move the furniture and vacuum under the sofa, the same holds true for your database.  It often needs a good spring cleaning.

Have you ever received more than one invitation to a party?  The invite seems pretty in-genuine to the end user.  Your guest doesn’t really feel all that important when they’re receiving multiple invites to the same party.

Clean house.  Identify duplicates and DELETE THEM.  This helps save you money since you’re often charged based on the size of your list AND it gives you a fresh start.


I get it.  I feels really good to “brag” about the size of your Guest List.  However, if you only have names of your guests, there’s really no reason to brag.  Who cares that you have 30,000 names in your database?  Names have no value to a business.  The value comes in the INFORMATION about the name.

When you’re preparing for a party and you send out invitations, how good is just a name?  If you only put a name on an envelope, will that person receive the invitation?  No.

Just a name is pretty useless.  You don’t know where they live, don’t have their email and you can’t call them to invite them to the party.  Yet, the name tricks your staff into thinking that person is important.  They call for a tee time, the staff looks up their name and never once pay attention to the fact that their information is 555-555-5555 and the address is 1234 Main Street.

I recently switched point of sale providers.  When I transferred my database, I deleted every single person who didn’t have an email address.  Ouch.  That hurt because it was over 10,000 people.  But, just the names weren’t doing anything for my guest list.  Just the names weren’t being invited to the party.  They weren’t receiving any of my information about my golf course.  Just their name had little to no value for me.

After deleting those names, I opened the course for the season.  In the first three days, I was adding “new” people left and right because their name was no longer in my database, so my staff had to enter them like they were a brand new customer.  Guess what!  In those three days, I added 192 names, phone numbers and email addresses to my database!!  THAT is something that I can use to invite over and over again to the daily party at my course.


If your guests completely ignore you, no longer live in your area, and don’t engage with you – it’s time to prune them.  Most email marketing services charge based on the size of your database.  If the people you’re sending emails to never open them, then they aren’t much use to you.

Send out an email a few times a year with a confirmation that they still want to be a part of your list.  This will help to make you look good in the eyes of your email service because you have high engagement and open rates.


Ah yes.  The staff.  Previously, I depended on my staff to input all of my customer’s information.  That’s a good explanation of why I would have 10,000 people in my database with only a name.  Staff gets lazy.  Staff gets busy.  Staff doesn’t appreciate the value of customer information.

Studies show that an email address is worth between $25 – 60 to a golf course operator.  Does your staff understand its value?

My staff prides itself in being extremely efficient.  They can check in golfers very quickly and get them out to the starter in great time.  Often times, that speed comes at the expense of database collection.  I am constantly explaining to my staff that only one foursome can tee off at once.  What good does speed inside of the clubhouse do if there is a back up on number one or the starter has a line waiting for carts?

Just like Disney, the check in process at a golf course is designed as multiple “holding tank areas,” so that each golfer receives a good experience.  At Disney, you first ride on a ferry boat.  Then, you’re in a ticket line.  The time passes quickly and you don’t realize that it took you over an hour just to get inside of the park because they were so good at distracting you with multiple “holding tank areas.”  The golf course is no different. Train your staff to take their time.  The information to a golfer only needs to be done once and then they’re in the system.

  • Engage Your Staff
  • Set Goals
  • Reward Positive Behavior

I’ve set a goal for my staff that I want to add 10,000 names and emails to my database this year.  They all know the goal.  They are all buying into why it needs to be done.  I’ve also set a goal that those names will produce an additional $50,000 in revenue.

In my staff check in area (where they check the schedule), I have a drawing that has a growing line to our goal.  It’s visible to all.  At each major goal point, we have a staff party planned.  At the end of the season, the staff who collected the most number of emails will win a prize.

You have to create a system, so that data collection is fun and the importance of it is clear to your staff.


In the end, the staff is often too busy.  We’re a pretty busy course, so sometimes it simply is too difficult to take the time to do it right.  That’s why I have multiple touch points where my golfers are inputting their own data.  It’s a much cleaner and efficient way to get good information.

iPad Kiosks

These are simple stands that are around the clubhouse that are designed for email collection.  Just hop on Amazon and search iPad kiosk.  Most of the kiosks at my club are designed to join the birthday program.  The golfer inputs their name, email, birthday and phone into the kiosk and they receive something for their birthday via email.

The iPad works with an app that is provided by my email marketing service.  Ask the company that you use to send out emails for their opt-in app.  If they don’t have one, then switch services because yours is old and outdated.

Here’s a few that I know have apps:

  • Constant Contact
  • MailChimp
  • Aweber
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Drip

Website Offer

Include a pop-up with a good offer.  No one wants to sign up for a newsletter.  You need to entice them to sign up to join your list. Give 20% off their first online purchase.  A free bucket of balls.  The options are endless.  An email address has value, so make sure you’re providing something to thank them for signing up.  Simply enticing them by saying, “Sign Up for my Newsletter” is like asking them “Do you want more junk email in your inbox?”  Guess what?  No one wants that.

Website Forms

Every form that is on your website should be attached to your database.  That means that every time someone signs up for a lesson program, golf outing, inquires about an event, or league, their information is added to the database – automatically.

Landing Pages

Every promotion that I run includes a landing page.  The golfer only receives the offer or coupon if they opt-in to my list.  This method allows me to add 500 or more people to my database over a three day period when I run promotions for big holidays like Father’s Day, Fourth of July, etc.  I can also segment my database by the opt-in offer they signed up to receive.

If you put on the mindset of Building Your Guest List, then you’ll begin seeing many ways that you can capture information.  If you have any sort of an offer, then the golfer needs to provide you their information in order to receive your discount.

Golf Outing Incentive

One of the hardest golfers to add to your list are the ones who play in golf outings once a year.  You might be thinking, that you don’t really want to market to them if they only play once a year.  What if you were able to get them to play one more time?  Play in one more outing?  Rent your facility one time?  Every name has value.

For golf outings, we provide a giveaway to the outing participant when they fill out a form with their name, email and phone number.  That giveaway can be a hat, a golf towel, a sleeve of balls, a come back coupon.  You decide what will work for you and your golf course.



One last tip for creating a clean database is more along the lines of what NOT to do.  Don’t allow someone else to collect information on your golfer and then not share the actual golfer information with you.  You’re the one who is providing the experience.  Make sure you’re the one who is also receiving the database.

I used to do promotions with radio stations and television.  They’d have some deal they offered in exchange for air time.  A few years ago, I started asking them for the database that they collected from selling my product.  Guess what!  They didn’t want to share it with me, so I stopped doing those promotions.

If you’re using a third party for your tee time distribution, make sure they are sharing a clean database with you.  After all, you’re the one throwing the party every day, so the least you deserve is the information to the people on the Guest List.

Creating a Holiday Promotion

Follow These Steps to Success!

If you aren’t taking advantage of the holiday season, then you must not like making easy money.  Golf courses are notorious for their lack of marketing skills.  That’s what makes marketing for the holiday season so easy for a golf course.  The media does the marketing for you.  Everyone knows about Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  The public just needs to be told that you’re participating.  You can be pretty successful with very little effort or marketing know how.

This is a huge gift (pun intended) to golf course operators.  Basically, you just have to deliver something that is worthy of gift giving and you’ll be profitable.  The best part about a holiday promotion is that the mentality to spend money in our customers is already created for you.  Your golfers and more importantly, your golfer’s loved ones, are programmed to spend money on these two days.

You just have to do SOMETHING!


Proper Email Structure

I Should Probably Use that Degree...

Have I ever told you about the story of how I wasted thousands of my parents’ dollars?  You know the one.   It starts off where I go to college for four, ok, fine.. five years, to get my degree.  That degree I really wanted, so that I could be a high school English teacher.

Then, I got offered a job and decided to turn it down, so I could be married and have kids instead.

It’s a great tale. Unless you’re my parents and you’re out all of that college funded money.

Up until today, the main way in which I used my fancy degree was that I can speak the language fluently.  That’s right folks.  I can travel to England and can speak like a native!  Cheery-O, mate.  Wait.  Wrong country.

Today, we’re going to talk about writing copy in your email.

Do Your Emails Put People to Sleep?

I get hundreds of emails a day and I’m sure you do, too.  Some are promotional, while others are important and are worthy of a response.  When it comes to the promotional emails that hit my inbox, I primarily delete 50-75% of them without even opening them up.  If I’m lucky, gmail will do all of the work for me and they’ll end up in the promotion tab which basically just sends my promotional email to my spam filter.  When it comes to the promotional emails that are left, I only read a few  on a consistent basis because I enjoy reading them or I find their information valuable.  Otherwise, I’m outta there.

I’m guessing your assessment of your inbox is about the same.  What does this mean to you as a golf course operator?

Guess where your golf course’s email is ending up in your customer’s inbox?  That’s right.  It’s heading right for the promotion tab where it basically turns to unread spam.  Cue the wah wah waaaaaah.

If it’s lucky enough to sit in the promotions tab with a slim chance of being read, then your subject line has to put up a big fight and do its best to appeal to the reader until it’s (hopefully) opened.

If your email doesn’t have what it takes, then it’s going directly to the trash pile.

Five Ideas to Grow Your Email List

Email is Still King

There’s so much pressure to be involved in social media nowadays that it’s easy to forget about the only form of marketing that YOU OWN and CONTROL.

I’m talking about your Email List.

You might have the feeling from all of the hype about social media that email is a dying form of marketing.  I’m here to tell you that it’s time to wipe that feeling away.  Email continues to be a major player in the marketing world and should be an important part of your strategy.

That’s why it’s so important for you to have a solid email list. Then you write regular emails because they matter to your overall marketing scheme and drive business to your golf course.

What strategies do you have in place in order to grow your list?  If you’re depending on your snack bar staff or tee time booking agent to do all of the heavy lifting, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

For years, I depended on my staff to get the emails from our customers for my list.  This really isn’t a very smart way if you’re wanting a good list.  In my case, some staff members would leave off the .com to the email address while others had a hard time hearing on the phone while typing at the same time and would put in a B for a D in the email.  In addition, there were some staff members who simply felt uncomfortable asking for it.

You know where that got me?  A pretty junky list that didn’t grow much every year.  Until now…

My goal is to add at least 20 new golfers or prospects to my list EVERY DAY.  Here are some of the strategies that I have put in place in order to make that goal happen.

What is Content Marketing?

Today's Buzzword

Sometimes I wonder if I’m old or if I’m just so busy doing golf course stuff that I forget to notice the rest of the world.  I’ve been blogging on my golf course’s website for about three years.  Mostly, I have used it as a way to get to know my golfers better and to help them get to know me.  I give them background information of all the fun jobs we’re doing behind the scenes.

Last year, I kind of hit a brick wall when it came to my blogging.  I just felt like I was doing it all wrong, and I all but stopped blogging entirely.  Yes, we still had funny things happening at the golf course, but I just didn’t take the time to grab my camera and snap a few photos of my superintendent falling into the pond when he was trying to fix the water aerator like I once had.  That may have been because I was too busy laughing, now that I think about it.

I began searching for some ideas on what to blog about at my course to try and help me get my rhythm back.

Then, I fell down a giant rabbit hole known as the internet.

Creating a Marketing Calendar

Let's Have a Great Year!

When I first took over managing my family’s golf course in 2004, I really wanted to provide a magnetic calendar with all of my upcoming promotions and events to all of my season pass holders.  (We’re primarily a daily fee course, but have about 175 members.  We stopped calling them members and call them season pass holders because that title gave them more authority than we were willing to allow.  Ha.)

Here it is!
The lovely magnetic calendar.

I was young and naive.  Before I knew it, I had been talked into the wonders of direct mail marketing and decided that printing 2,500 magnets would be a much better buy, so why not buy them?  Then, I was introduced to the wonder of purchasing physical addresses based on location and interests.  I didn’t know this even existed!  What will they think of next?  I could buy 2500 addresses for only $50.  Who cares that it costs thousands to send the stupid calendar, right?

Before I knew it, I was spending a significant amount of money on a beautiful magnet that I was sending out to the general public within a certain radius of my course.  My naive self thought I’d be rolling in the cash with all my great promotions that everyone was going to be banging down my door to attend.

Crickets.  That’s what I got.

When I think about it, I’d like to take my 26 year old self and sucker punch me right square between the eyes.  Then, I’d like to have all of that money back, so I could pay for my son’s college bills of today.

It’s kind of like when you stop smoking and you think about all of the thousands of dollars you wasted because you made a bad choice when you were young.

There’s nothing quite like the school of hard knocks.  My family has been so amazing at allowing me to experiment and stretch myself.  See what works and what doesn’t.  Yes.  The magnetic calendar was a one and done idea.  Thankfully, they never talk about it or hold it over my head.

Sadly, that wasn’t the last time I was talked into a good deal.

Getting Your Content Organized

A Little Goes a Long Way

In the summer months, I’m rarely in my office.  I’m putting out fires, managing people, executing events, scheduling staff, visiting with golfers and mostly just juggling all the many tasks that make up the life of a General Manager Wizard of Fun.  All of those tasks are driven by my marketing and content calendar.

The marketing and content calendar is what drives my business.  It’s what provides predictable income in a business that is often unpredictable.

I’ve noticed that if I don’t get my content calendar in place by end of January, it simply doesn’t get done.  I get too busy and the planning never gets completed.  It’s not to say that it can’t be done in February or even the first of March.  It just seems like January was meant to be a planning month.

Because of that, I’m going to share my content calendar with you, so you can use it.  (FYI.  I plan to complete my marketing calendar in the next few weeks.  I’ll share it, too.  Both calendars work together.)

Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of my Content Calendar first.

Finding Your Perfect Golfer

Get Dialed In...

Let’s face it, there are many different types of golfers out there.  Some golfers are avid with low scores and enjoy a challenge.  Then, there are some who enjoy the game, but have never really mastered it.

I’ve been working at my family’s golf course since I was eleven.  I can remember waiting on golfers at the snack bar for years, assuming they were good golfers.  When I was eighteen, I began mowing the fairways and tee-boxes.  Imagine my surprise when it turned out that these golfers who played nearly daily for the last seven years of my life turned out to be HORRIBLE golfers!

Step away from your desk and take a look at your golfers.  Get to know them and their skill level!

You need to really dial in the type of golfer your course attracts.  Without this information, you’re wasting valuable time and money in your marketing.