Kevin Thistle, now general manager of Coppinwood in Uxbridge, Ont., made a name for himself by luring corporate and charity golf tournaments to Angus Glen, a public facility in nearby Markham, since its opening in the early 1990s. Due to the economy, corporate golf is reportedly down, but Thistle says it’s time to start looking at the indicators and planning for the future when it comes to booking tournaments.
I’ve heard about the number of corporate and charity golf tournaments being down, but I actually think it was more the public golf that got hit.
I know that corporate golf might be down a little and that corporate golf/charity golf got a little more aggressive with their pricing. I don’t mean shopping around, but instead of giving a $100 giveaway to everybody, they’re giving a $50 giveaway, or instead of having a 288 shotgun, they went down to 144.
There are two big components to tournaments, one being ABC corporation taking its clients out as a thank you.
Some of those events did not happen this year, not because of the money, but because of the optics. I talked to several companies that said, `I don’t think it’s prudent if we are laying people off or showing a deficit in our bottom line and then going out and spending X amount of dollars on golf.’
The second component is charity golf. Charities look at their galas as being big money-makers and they look towards their golf tournaments as being big money-makers, then they may decide whether to have a walkathon or bikeathon.
Usually, when I’m talking to people, they tell me that golf is either their No. 1 or No. 2, maybe sometimes No. 3, money-maker, when it comes to events, so they really depend on it.
I left Angus Glen on May 15 and we already had a nice number of corporate tournaments for this season. I think corporations understand the old adage that, when the going get tough, the tough get going.
Other corporations, vice presidents and presidents have said that, while business may not be great, they’re really hustling during these tough times and they haven’t given up on their service aspect or their loving-the-client aspect.
Whey they pull out of this tough economy, they really feel that, because they kept their business-as-usual attitude, they will be poised to be the leaders when things turn around.
I see the corporate and public golf turning around. The last nine months have affected a lot of people, but even the people who weren’t affected changed their spending habits..
There are many good signs that will start changing and I think, come November-December or February-March when people are thinking about their golf tournaments for next year, they’re going to look at the indicators, feel good about what’s happening with the economy and say, `Yeah, we’re going to have our golf tournament this year.’
Are you ready for that? Once again, it goes back to service.
If you’ve never had a convenors’ appreciation night, you should have one in September-October of this year. You should show off your facililty, your food, your golf course, etc.
A lot of tournaments may have gone from 144 to 80, or from 288 to 144, but once people’s confidence comes back, the tournaments are going to go back to where they were two years ago.
Now’s the time to be proactive. We’re in September now. If you wait until March or April to be reactive, then life’s passed you by.
Even if convenors are not going to sign the contract, even if they’re not going to make a decision right now, you want to be top of mind and in their thoughts.