How Celebration Golf's new academy is helping the bottomline

Kenny Nairn is at the forefront when it comes to the business of golf lessons.

The PGA Professional opened his brand new golf academy at Celebration Golf Club near Orlando, Fla., in September, and already it is exceeding expectations. The new teaching facility sparked more than $20,000 in additional revenue the first month, 25 percent above an “aggressive budget” and exceeded February’s “stretched” target budget by 71 percent.

Nairn opened his ideal 2,500-square-foot Ping nFlight Fitting and Teaching Studio at the Walt Disney Company-contrived town of Celebration after a painstaking 26-month planning process. It was worth the wait.

The academy has been buzzing with business since then, so much so that Nairn had to hire an extra golf instructor in March — seven months ahead of projection.

Celebration’s new facility is a holistic approach to teaching and developing new golfers. It’s a sharp contrast to the go-go days of golf course development when the strategy seemed to be: “Build it, and they will come (to your course).” For Celebration, the mantra is: “Develop the players, and they will play (your course).”

For Nairn, a career Ping-playing professional and one-time Ping Fitter of the Year, the $500,000 teaching/custom club fitting facility was a dream come true considering he was one of four pros who helped develop the innovative Ping nFlight software technology prior to its debut in 2008. Celebration is one of only three Ping nFlight Centers using this proprietary programming.

Nairn designed the practice facilities himself so the teaching aspect could be done in a private atmosphere on the eastern edge of the neo-urbanism property. The practice area features fairway quality grass tees, dedicated short game area with pitching greens and several bunkers, and a separate sheltered hitting area positioned towards the club’s main aqua range.

Indoor, the facility includes two hitting bays that also open up to the aqua range, putting areas. Also inside is the same Ping nFlight technology utilized by Tour Pros for club-fitting.

The practice facility has been packaged with a simultaneous multi-million golf course renovation to a championship layout that was already highly regarded. To be sure, that has attracted additional players to the golf academy.

But it’s Nairn’s cost-effective marketing intangibles — adopting a heavy dose of regular social media and Internet marketing — that are proving to be as influential as anything.

For instance, Nairn utilizes his club’s YouTube channel to not only “create greater awareness,” but also as a platform to “walk people through the process of being fitted for club’s or taking a lesson.”

Additionally, Nairn is blogging a stream of golf tips, news and instructions to keep his academy and golf club as relevant as ever.

“There’s a lot of intimidation (in taking a lesson or being fitted),” said Nairn, one of four partners at the club. “We can show you what it’s all about and review the process all on YouTube. …Then, if you come out and I’m giving you a lesson, we assume you have inferior equipment and might sell you something. Or, if you’re getting a fitting from us, I’m going to find out something you’re doing wrong in your swing so you’ll want a lesson. It goes hand-in-hand.”

Comments

Kenny Nairn is a winner in every aspect of the design and implementation of the Celebratoin Golf Academy. He has built excellent golfers one individual at a time, and in doing so he has built a community of golfers, not just a golf school. My hat is off to him and his staff. They operate a phenominal facility and have earned every bit of their success. My best to all of them!

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