Three Steps to Increase Play at Your Club

As the author of The Golf Pro Advisor, I follow golf industry trends closely. I do this because those trends have significant financial impact on my readers and clients.

A recent annual survey of golfers from Pellucid, a research firm focusing on golf, caught my eye. The announcement summarizing the report had an ominous title:

The 2013 National Golf Consumer Base Scorecard:
Downward Drift Accelerates

Pellucid’s report noted that in 2013 there was a 5% decline in golfers from 2012. Furthermore, there were fewer rounds played. The number of golfers peaked at 30 million in 2002 and is now back to 1990 levels.

Many clubs are fighting to avoid a decline in membership. Fewer members means less revenue from initiation fees and member dues. That also means lower lesson fees, clinic fees and Golf Shop sales.

A membership decline has a direct impact on golf pros. It can mean lower compensation and fewer jobs.

Don’t wait for the numbers at your club to get worse. Show your golf committee and your club’s board that you are taking action to reverse the decline in play.

Here are three steps you can take:

1.       Design innovative programs to increase play.

2.       Get your golf committee on board.

3.       Use social media to connect with your members.

You want to show your club’s leaders that you are part of the solution, not part of the problem. You are essential to the club’s growth.

Step #1 – Design New Programs

To increase play at your course, consider programs that will attract more golfers, particularly women and juniors. You also need to show that golf is fun.

The PGA’s Golf 2.0 initiative offers numerous ways for getting more members on the course more often. The “Player Development Workbook” is full of ideas for creating and executing programs. I urge you to read it carefully.

You may also need to change the culture on the course to attract younger players. Relaxing dress codes is one way to start.

Step #2 – Get Your Committee on Board

After you’ve done some initial research on new programs, meet with your golf chair to get his or her feedback. Then, work with your committee to develop more detailed plans.

Getting started here is a bit tricky. You need to have some fairly well-developed ideas before you approach your golf chair. But you don’t want to present a complete program to him/her.

You need to involve him/her in developing the final product. You want this to be a joint effort with the chair and the committee.

The next step is convincing the club’s board. The golf chair can lead the charge on this.

Step #3 – Reach out to Your Members (Effectively)

An effective communication strategy is a key element in your overall growth plan.

Don’t rely exclusively on the club to promote your new programs. Of course, you should make sure the programs are prominently displayed on the club’s website and mentioned in club bulletins.

But you should also run your own communications program. This could include emails to members as well as an active social media program on Facebook and elsewhere. You may even need your own website.

This approach has two benefits. You are in control of the promotion effort. Also, with electronic communication you are more likely to get the attention of the younger members.

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