5 ways to increase play

By Jack Dillon 

The golf business is about golfers. How many are playing? How many rounds will each play this year? For many years, the industry has been developing ideas to grow the game, develop more players and help the tee sheets of every golf course. Although there have been many good ideas produced over the past 15 years, nothing seems to stick. In addition to people not coming to the game, loyal golfers are leaving. Rounds are down, as are all related sales associated with those rounds. A casualty of the work is that we, the people of the industry, are playing a lot less golf too, because we are trying so hard to fill the tee sheets.

In my view golf is a neighborhood sport. It must be nurtured in the neighborhood, working to excite golfers about the property, but also to build new interest for the sport. It seems we have had a catch-22 for years with the golf course. On one hand, we need to keep payroll expense down because rounds are down, but because there are less people on staff, the efforts to build programs suffer greatly.

This post is about getting people to the golf course and the 1st tee. Here are five thoughts to building rounds, sales, and golfers:

1)    Build an on-site program to teach the game to every employee. When every staff member knows to game, they will have empathy and will create more chatter, more fun, more sales

2)    Use the odd times to invite the neighborhood to learn. Think about two mornings and three evenings. This time spent with children, adults, and also families together

3)    Create programs that last two years, not six weeks. The game as we know is tough, and if the new golfer has no “golfing network” the frustration may cause that person to walk away

4)    Include playing lessons along with standard instructions. At a management company where I once worked, our goal was to get a new golfer to play four rounds in month one. That number, we learned created initial loyalty to the game

5)    Just as with on-boarding a new employee, you should have a structure of consistent communications with every new golfer. You want to make sure they are taking advantage of all of your generosity, as well as coming back to your club to play.

In addition to my belief that golf is a neighborhood sport, I also believe it can only be developed on the ground by golf professionals and others who not only love the game but have a stake in it succeeding long term.  No organization can be on the range. No executive can be on the tee helping to build new golfers, new rounds. Why not build long term incentives to grow long term golfers. Every vision to grow should be mapped out over a very long period, and not six weeks or six months. Let’s retool for a long program that fills the tee sheets, range, and restaurants. Moms are looking for the new game for their kids. Raise your hand and invite them in. Kids grow up and will eventually want to do more than play video games. Grow the game. The person in the mirror becomes a real winner too!


 Jack Dillon writes the highfives series. Jack is a speaker, blogger, and expert in the game. Have Jack speak at your next meeting. He has been in golf for 45 years. He can be reached at 407-973-6136. Jack lives in Orlando. 



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