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.