Have you ever wondered why the growth of golf is stagnant? I’ve sat through countless presentations that make a good case for why the game of golf isn’t growing. It takes too long. It’s too difficult. It’s positioned as an elitist sport. It’s too expensive. I’ve even attended a seminar where they blamed the lack of growth in the game on the fact that minorities don’t enjoy the sport.
They make a good case, but when you truly think about it. They’re just a bunch of excuses for a poor marketing effort by the entire golf industry.
People sit in stands for more than four hours watching a sport. They binge watch on Netflix for more than four hours. Heck, they even wait in line at Top Golf for more than an hour to get a stall. There are many things that people buy that are expensive, but they don’t gripe about it, like a good mattress, a high end car, good running shoes, quality dress pants. Not to mention, have you looked at the price of refrigerators lately? They walk in with certain expectations which are then met – whether it be related to price or service.
Why is golf struggling then?
In my opinion, it’s struggling because of an industry wide lack of knowledge on how to properly market the sport. (more…)
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!
Call clubhouse. Sign up child/self for lesson program. Get email when to show up for lesson. Instructor gives group coaching information, then walks down the line up of golfers to correct swings.
Is it any wonder that people are constantly leaving the game? Beginning golfers are like little robots on an assembly line of instruction. Position your thumb here. Tuck in your elbow there. Put your weight on this foot. Bee Bop Boo Bop.
Have you ever thought about the experience of your customer? Do you build up their anticipation before the lesson even begins? What about after it’s over? How is your follow through when their lesson is complete? Are they still on your radar, or have they become one of the many forgotten golfers?
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.
Theme Your Days
Do you struggle with your To Do List? Try creating Theme Days where you only work on those tasks for specific days of the week. For example: Marketing Mondays, Team Meeting Tuesdays, etc.
Batch the tasks that you have that are similar and put them on the correct Theme Day. Trust me. It’s life changing!
I get it. Boy do I get it. How in the world do you make yourself unique in a sea of other golf courses? My golf course is located in central Iowa surrounded by a mere 30 other courses. Yikes. That’s tough.
Let me tell you a little secret. I don’t view any of them as competition because I mind my own business.
What makes my golf course unique?
When I first took over my family’s golf business in 2004. I struggled with many things. Not the least of which was the silly name my family had selected for my family’s course. I was young and ambitious.
The first thing we did was change our logo. We made it look more “golf like.” There. Better. I thought. Then, we added cherry wood to our Golf Shop. We remodeled to make our clubhouse look like a private club. After all, isn’t it written somewhere that golf course clubhouses be surrounded in dark wood with men in smoking jackets and pool tables in the locker rooms? That’s what a real golf course looks like, right?
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.