By Mitchell Stump*
Could It Be "All About Golf"?
Mitchell L. Stump, CPA has been challenging Private Golf Clubs about their best customers and why Clubs tend to treat this customer poorly. If a Private Club has a golf course and the Member that pays the highest joining fee and the highest dues, if the Full Equity Golf member, it just may be "All About Golf". So why do we charge our best customer for golf lessons? Why are these not an amenity?
Based upon discussions this past year with my good friend and CMAA Member Mark Nordman, General Manager, Colonial Country Club in Fort Myers, FL, the analysis below represents a response to my hard questioning of why Private Golf Clubs do not provide free golf lessons to Members as a Club amenity. I asked the question "Why must Private Club Members pay for golf lessons?" "After joining a Private Club and paying annual dues, why is it necessary to pay more to the Golf Professional to improve my golf game?" "Why don't we actually pay the Golf Professional a decent salary and then make their primary responsibility improving my golf game?"
In a National Golf Foundation study conducted in 2009, the following was concluded:
"While we can't answer the chicken-and-egg question of which came first - the passion or the ability - we can look at the importance of instruction in increasing commitment and growing the game.
Some key observations:
• 95% of Core golfers have a strong desire to improve
• 80% say they are willing to work on their game
• 81% believe they are capable of improving
• Only 23% took a golf lesson in the past 12 months
• And, 40% don't know of a teaching professional they could go to
There are plenty of players who want to improve and believe they can do so with the help of a golf professional. Time and money are barriers to golf instruction, no doubt, but they are surmountable barriers for the majority of golfers...."
So why has a CPA been writing and talking about this radical approach for a number of years now and writing Club "It's All About Golf" Book?
The answer is basic business theory:
• Who is your Private Golf Club's best customer? Is it possibly the Equity Golf Member?
• Get them to come back to the Club more often, and
• Have them use your profitable services such as cart fees, guest fees, buying Pro V-1's and losing them by
the third hole, eating at the snack bar and drinking afterwards.
Mark decided to take my challenge and agreed to report back to me regarding the results. Mark verbally reported that he increased the compensation of his Golf Professionals for this two month trial period to cover the estimated lesson income that normally is generated during this period. Here is Mark's report:
*Play Golf Colonial
Complimentary Golf Lessons
Colonial Country Club
Fort Meyers, Florida*
While we all embrace the concept of family amenities, alternative programs, clubs within clubs, lawn bowling, tennis, nature trails, horseshoe pits, lazy river pools, yoga classes, spinning classes and bus trips to the museum as parts of a private club, we also think that golf in these private clubs can still be about golf. There is somewhat of a chain reaction with golf – the easier golf is to play and the better you play, the more fun it is. And if you have fun doing it, then you will be more likely to come back for more and come back more often. In the end, this results in the Clubs doing better financially (or at least stop losing business).
We know from years of experience that active golf members are the ones who create the most net revenue in a private club. In order for people to play more often, and thereby increase revenue, they have to actually enjoy playing. Simply put, our theory was that people would enjoy the game of golf more if they were better at it. We know that many members do not take lessons for a number of different reasons – cost, fear of the unknown, or fear of what others might think if they “admit” they need help with their game. So, if we could remove at least some of these barriers, we figured we could ultimately encourage more people to get out and enjoy the game of golf and do so more often. The easiest way to do this was to offer our members free half-hour lessons, because that’s where the chain reaction begins.
During the month of February, Colonial Country Club offered its members a free golf lesson with Head Golf Professional, Brian Kelley. The promotion was entitled “Play Golf Colonial”
and its ultimate goal was to bring more players to the game, especially those who did not play very often. We all know it is easy to get repeat business from the die-hard players, but we saw an opportunity for revenue growth if we could bring more players to the game by tapping into those who only played occasionally….or not at all. We also saw the promotion as an opportunity to provide greater value to our Members.
The promotion had additional goals as well. Typically, increased rounds of golf played lead to increased guest fees, increased merchandise sales, and increased food and beverage sales, and we anticipate seeing those increases as a result of this promotion. We will be tracking the future sales data to determine whether there was, in fact, a correlation amongst these factors. To date, the positive “buzz” from the membership and the perceived results have been amazing. Brian was fully booked on the times he made available for this program and taught 128 free lessons throughout the month of February.
At Colonial Country Club, we utilized 6 main marketing avenues to promote this event which included the Colonial Country Club website, community channel, newsletter, bulletin boards for flyers, cart signs, and a digital picture frame at the golf shop counter. At the start of each lesson, we collected each person’s e-mail address. This enabled us to send each participant a reminder of their “homework” that they should work on to continue improving their golf game. We also utilized their e-mail to send them a friendly reminder to take advantage of discount vouchers to be used throughout other areas of the club (i.e., massage, personal training, etc.) and discounts on future golf club purchases.
During the lesson, there were several factors that were addressed. We began each lesson by uncovering whether there was a certain aspect of the individual’s game they would like to work on. We also reviewed the basic rules of golf to ensure they were comfortable with them. After that, we took the opportunity to educate them on the various leagues at the Club and upcoming events, as well as conducting a club fit. As part of the promotion, if a student decided to purchase clubs as a result of their club fit or at any time during the month of February or March, they were given a 10% discount on their purchase. We also gave them, at the end of their lesson, vouchers for a discount on personal training, couples massage, and facials at our Recreation Center.
During the month of February, we taught 128 30-minute lessons to the membership at Colonial Country Club. The trends that we noticed within the promotion were as follows: couples signed up together; the majority of participants were beginning women; over 90% of the participants wanted to work on the fundamentals of Posture, Grip, and Alignment for both their long and short games. By being engaged with the members and creating a more personal relationship, we set off the chain reaction - we increased participation in all departments, increased our merchandise sales, and increased our total rounds of golf.
Mark C. Nordman, General Manager, Colonial Country Club
Brian P. Kelley, PGA Head Golf Professional, Colonial Country Club
For additional information, please contact:
Mark C. Nordman,
Colonial Country Club,
9181 Independence Way,
Fort Myers, Florida 33913 239-768-7200 firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally posted by MitchellStump
on 17 Mar 2010.
All contributors: LynnwoodBrown
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