T’is the season to be planning.
No, we’re not trying to bring back the holiday season with that ditty. We’re back to work again and when the fairways are covered in snow comes the time to plan ahead to when temperatures are warm and you’re busy reacting to the needs of the golfers who are out there.
At that point, will the people out on those fairways be familiar faces, the ones you normally see year-in, year-out? Will they be the avid golfers at your facility, the ones described by the National Allied Golf Associations in its recent Consumer Behaviour Study as playing 25 or more rounds a year?
If that’s the case, good on you. If you’ve got fairways filled with loyal golfers with a passion for the game who are willing and able to spend money not only to play, but also in your pro shop and food and beverage operation, you’re running a successful operation.
Even if that’s true, will those avid golfers still be there 10, 15 or 20 years down the road or will they be pursuing other interests as a result of retirement, economic or health issues?
You may even say to yourself that you plan to retire or scale back before that happens, so why worry about the future? That’s for somebody else to worry about.
Then again, if a recession was to hit again, would it not be wise right now to try and lure frequent golfers (9-24 rounds a year, according to NAGA) or occasional golfers (3-8 rounds a year) to play more, or even attempt to draw more new players to the game?
Having a full tee sheet is never a bad thing, so having lots of avid golfers and convincing those who don’t tee it up as much as the avids to play more is a recipe for success, even when times are tough.
How many golf operations can honestly say that they have enough avid golfers? Very few and even if they do have a healthy contingent of avid golfers, it’s never enough, so what’s on your mind as you begin planning for the 2013 golf season?
Are you playing defensively and catering to the avid golfers in order to maintain the status quo and perhaps pick up a few new golf junkies who might have moved into the area?
Are you making attempts to transform frequent golfers into avid golfers?
This will likely involve focus groups to try to understand the reasons for the frequents not playing as much as the avids. Is it time, affordability, work or a combination? You need to find this out in order to come up with ideas to encourage them to play more.
Will you try to lure newcomers into the game? If you’re going to succeed, you’ll need to go out into the community to schools, service clubs and other groups to find out what’s holding them back and what would draw them to your facility.
Once you find those answers, there’s always the possibility that you could alienate the avid golfers at your facility through perceptions that newcomers are taking up tee times, playing slowly or not fitting in. That attitude could also alienate the newcomer, as well.
There are a variety of ways to go about planning and it will be different from operation to operation, but what the operation where you work is planning is the focus of the first GNN Poll of the year. What’s your priority?
What will be your priority in 2013?
- Encouraging frequent golfers (less than 25 rounds/year) to play more (54%)
- Attracting beginners to your facility (29%)
- Maintaining existing avid golfers (25+ rounds per year) (18%)
As always, feel free to offer your opinion in the Comments section below.