Growing Your Junior Golf Program
As readers of The Golf Pro Advisor know, I regularly stress the importance of increasing your value to your club. This can, in turn, increase your job security, your income, and your marketability (to other clubs).
One way to increase your value to the club is to create a vibrant, growing youth program. This offers several advantages:
- Grooming a new generation of active golfers and potential members
- Stimulating increased play
- Generating income from program fees, lessons, clinics, coaching, and golf shop sales
- Forging stronger ties with parents and increasing their loyalty to the club and to you
- Attracting new members
If your club has, say, 300 members, there are probably at least 300 children between ages 5 and 17. Let’s say you recruit a quarter of this group into the golf program.
That could mean real money and, perhaps more importantly, a lot of parents who support the program and whom you develop a closer relationship with.
In developing a youth program, you face two potential problems: family indifference and adult golfer resistance.
You need to convince families that golf is fun, rewarding, and relatively easy to learn. You also need to establish a family friendly culture that encourages informal play on the golf course.
Here are three junior programs recently featured in PGA magazine:
1. Golf Leagues
- Program – Mark Keating at Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Aloha, Oregon created teams comprised of boys and girls organized by age group. One team was for 7-13-year-olds. Another was for 14 and 15 year olds.
Mark convinced a number of other Portland area clubs to field teams. Ultimately, there were 12 teams that played not only in the summer but also through the fall.
- Results – 15% increase (?) in lessonrevenue from kids and additional lessons for parents. Another benefit was the cart rentals from the parents who watched their kids play in the leagues.
2. Club Fitting Day
- Program – Hugh Matthis at Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield, New Jersey runs an annual event to fit kids for clubs and golf clothing. The event includes games to keep the kids occupied.
Hugh also promotes Club Fitting Day via the club newsletter, email blasts, and flyers.
- Results – Some 75 kids participated in the event last year and sales of equipment/clothing increased by 15% over the previous year.
3. Themed Competition
- Program – Andy Miller at LedgeRock Golf Club in Reading, Pennsylvania runs a Drive, Chip & Putt Championship as part of the junior golf program. Last Fall, he divided the juniors into four teams, each with players of varying ages and skill levels.
Each team had college name – Ohio State – Red; Auburn – Orange etc. This summer he will use an Olympic theme and assign each team a country name.
- Results – A 3% to 5% increase in overall club revenue. This is the result of not only the program fees but of additional golf shop purchases and food purchases by parents watching their kids play.
These are only three examples. There are more in the Best Practices section on the PGA Magazine site.
It’s not too late to develop fall junior programs. That may a good way to test concepts that you can roll out more formally next year.
As you develop your 2017 junior golf plan this winter, keep in mind the following:
1. Set Goals – Create revenue and participation goals for each program plus ancillary revenue from lessons and golf shop sales
2. Measure Everything! – If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it
3. Promote Effectively – Send targeted promotions directly to the families with kids as well as general information to the entire membership.
4. Keep Your Golf Committee Informed – Share your plans and program results with your golf committee. Make sure the committee recognizes the impact of the programs!
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