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!


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.

Branding Page

Simple Trick

Hey!  Today’s post is going to be short, but it’ll pack a heavy punch!

We’re talking about branding today.  It’s important for you to have an overall “look” for your golf course.  You want all of your marketing materials to look the same, font use consistent, logos, and theme of your business to be cohesive in all areas – right down to your training materials.

The trouble with keeping a consistent look is that you are probably dealing with a number of designers, staff members, and others who play a role in your marketing and worksheet/flyer creation.  They are looking for the colors you use and your font selection, but often just do what they want because you don’t have something specific in place.

Facebook’s Tracking Pixel

The Big Brother of Business

That’s right.  Facebook is everyone’s favorite big brother.  Watching our every move.  On a positive note, at least Facebook doesn’t fart in your face every time you walk by as my brother did to me.  

That’s right folks.  My brother is ten years older than I am, so I spent a majority of my childhood being significantly shorter than he was.

For his own pre-teen and teenager humor, he literally farted in my face EVERY SINGLE TIME he passed me.  As I grew, he even mastered the Jump and Aim Fart, so the fun could extend a few more years.

It was always a proud moment for my parents.

The good news is that my brother is now in his 50’s, so he can only get about an inch of air time.  I sure do hope his daughters allow me to pick his nursing home, though.

Let’s Talk Landing Pages

Do You Even Need One?

If you’re anything like me, when someone starts talking about Landing Pages your eyes glaze over and you start thinking about the laundry you forgot to take out of the washer from three days ago or you wonder if you left the oven on.  You know.  Important stuff takes over your brain.

Seriously, though.  What in the world is a Landing Page?

They are so frequently referred to when you talk to a website person that I was kind of afraid to ask.  I felt like that kid in math class where everyone understands exactly how 4=2x solves as 2 and I was left scratching my head wondering.  Do I raise my hand to ask the question?  Am I the dumb kid in the room?

Since I have looked at hundreds of golf course websites, I can feel quite comfortable that I have found my tribe.

That’s right.

The people who know absolutely NOTHING about Landing Pages.  Thanks, Golf Course Operators.

It’s time to fix that!  I’m raising my hand and giving you a big fat explanation of why you need to have a landing page for your golf course.

Your Online Store

Yes. Golf Courses Need One!

Let me paint you a picture.

It’s the end March.  My golf course is just coming out of winter.  We haven’t made much money in the last three months (yay for northern states!) and my property taxes are due.  No.  Not property taxes to the tune of $5,000.  We’re talking PROPERTY TAXES to the tune of $60,000+.  In other words, some serious cash.

I’ll be honest with you.  For some reason, owning a golf course gives the public perception that you pretty much have more money than you know what to do with yourself.  I think people have always assumed that we stuff our mattresses with all of our leftover cash.

That, sadly, is not the case.  I’m ok with that since I, personally, think that sleeping on a wad of cash sounds incredibly uncomfortable.

Back to why you need an Online Shop…


Staring at a Blank Page

Writers Block is Real, Yo...

In my previous post, I discussed the advantages to having a blog on your website.  It’s a great way to set yourself apart from other golf courses in your area.  Telling stories about the events and activities taking place around your course helps to validate you and gives automatic characteristics to your golf course.  It’s your online first impression.

When you first begin writing on your blog, you might experience a little writers block.  That’s where I come in.  I’m here to help!

The best way to begin is to record yourself having a conversation with a golfer, vendor or staff member.  That will help you determine your voice.  You are a human, so you want to write how you’d speak to your golfer when they arrive at your course.


Finding your voice is where you determine your copywriting style.  If you’re having a hard time, then look at the type of advertising you produce.  Is it formal with slogans?  What is the stage that you have set for your first impression?  Are you a casual greeter?  Do you have a nickname you use with golfers?

Get Started Blogging

Yes. It's time...

I’ve been blogging on my golf course’s website for about three years.  Since I began, I have developed a relationship with my golfers that simply didn’t exist before.

When they see me in the clubhouse, they’ll stop me and talk to me about something that I have written or ask me a question about a topic that’s been covered.

Blogging has helped to establish my golf course as an expert in many areas.  It has also made me be a human in my golfer’s eyes.  I am very open and candid with the activities that take place around the golf course.  Golfers have a better understanding of what exactly goes in to providing a quality golf course.

Blogging is a great platform to explain processes that might otherwise not seem relatable to your average golfer.

When designing your website, it should be an extension of your relationship with your golfer that you have when they are greeted at the door.  Are you more formal?  Relaxed and easy going?  What is the language that you and your staff use with your golfers?  You’ll want that language to translate to your blog.

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.