Assuming a fairly equal level of competition, winning at anything isn’t easy.
Whether it is in sports, business, politics or whatever, the other guy, team etc. wants to win just as much as you do.
John Madden, the retired football great and TV announcer once said “It’s very difficult to win a game in the NFL” and he is correct.
Think of the hundreds of hours of physical conditioning, drafting players and practice that go into fielding a team — a collection of the best coaches, players and support staff all dedicating themselves to winning.
It ain’t easy!
The same can be said of every other sport including winning on the PGA Tour.
Think of who you are trying to beat as you come down the stretch, perhaps a previous winner, or a major champion or another tour player trying to win for the first time — these guys are good, as the slogan goes.
Even more astounding is a player or team who can produce multiple wins or championships. Once again, think of the NFL and coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.
Why do his teams enjoy such great success?
Other than the obvious answer that it’s because he has the best players, there is another reason.
First, every player on his team isn’t the best player at that position but every player on his team is coached the best. Every player has been highly trained to not only do the big things well but the small things, too.
A close study of each player reveals the knowledge that every single one of them knows how to perform their tasks by one per cent more than other players on other teams.
A running back squirms to gain one more foot, a blocker ensures he maintains his position for one more second and receivers try to advance the ball an extra inch by reaching out forward as they step out of bounds.
The end result is an additional gain of 15 to 25 yards per game. It doesn’t sound like much, but apply this to every game for a season. Sooner or later it adds up to victories.
In sports, there are certain cardinal sins that champions never commit when they win.
NFL: Never take points off the board
Baseball: Never try to steal home with two outs.
Hockey: Never give up the third goal or lose game three of a seven-game series.
Tennis: Never double fault back-to-back.
Golf: That old story about drive for show and putt for dough isn’t true. It’s drive for dough, putt for more dough, except on the back nine on Sunday when it becomes never miss a putt inside of six feet.
A successful golf course manager is nothing more than a coach. He/she has a team, a game to play and resources. You can’t score all the goals because you can’t be at work all the time.
The answer is staff training and empowerment.
You must allow your employees to make decisions and support them when things don’t work out as you might have hoped. They need encouragement at both ends of the spectrum – after they make a good decision and after they make a poor one.
Over the past 25 years, the golf industry has become highly competitive, but some facilities seem to win the championship year in and year out.
Why? Customer loyalty!
The course is well-presented, pricing is fair and staff knows how to treat the customers. Staff is empowered to make small decisions that impact a customer’s desire to return.
Here’s an example.
It is an overcast Sunday afternoon in June. A foursome shows up at 3:05 to use the 4 p.m. twilight rate. There are no other players around. Do you make them wait until 4 before they can play? The answer is no.
First, offer them a free small bucket of range balls while they wait. If you don’t have a range, offer to let them teeoff now plus, if they finish their round by 7:30 p.m., you give one of them a rain check.
You have treated discount seekers in a welcoming manner. The range balls cost you little. The course is empty so they will play quickly enough to earn the rain check, which means the staff can close the pro shop by 8 p.m. to save wages. The rain check encourages them to return.
Here’s another example.
-A threesome shows up with a 2-for-1 pass. Either give the third player 50 per cent off or charge full price and give a half-price power car, or better still, charge the third player full price and give him a rain check.
You have treated discount seekers in a welcoming manner and the rain check encourages them to return. Be leery of the same group trying to make this a common occurrence.
It’s a cool day with few players. Offer power cars at half price. Why? Any revenue is better than none.
In a dispute (and you will have some), always offer more than is reasonably expected, not a lot but a least 10%. Why? Some people really do unto others as they’d have others do unto them. However, more often than not, their actions are do unto others as they have done unto me.
It should never happen, but it does – a broken golf car abandoned on the course. Immediately find out who rented it. Reimburse them for today’s rental in full even if they only walk one hole. Secondly, give them an 18-hole golf car rain check.
They have to pay a green fee to use the cart so all isn’t lost and they might bring two full payers with them for green fees and carts.
Discounts don’t always have to be in cash. Train your staff to give things that require the patron to return to your course and don’t cost you any money. For example, a coupon for a basket of balls stamped “For Use After,” stamped with today’s date.
Give them a one-time opportunity to book a starting time ahead of their normal booking window.
If you have it, offer a one time free valet parking pass or a discount on a custom clubfitting session
Every once in a while, approach a regular green fee player, or the whole foursome, thank them for their loyalty and give them a raincheck with carts — a good rule of thumb is after 10 rounds paid and played at full price.
After October 1, the threat of a frost delay is ever present and the weather is only pleasant from 10 a.m. until about 3 p.m. How do you fill your course? Hold a 10 a.m. shotgun.
Frost delays are minimized, everyone enjoys the best part of the day and you can fill the whole course. Using our above-mentioned perk program, use the most prized starting holes as bonuses.
Hold a Customer Appreciation Day on your slowest day (by your records) in the month of September. It should be by invitation only, extended to your best customers a free day to include range balls, green fees and cars for everyone.
If you wish, include a barbecue, but make sure you (the owner/GM) goes around and shakes hands with every single person and thank them for coming. If you wish, give them two free cart rounds for next year.
Last and best! Drive around the course welcoming the players. Shake hands and tell them how much you appreciate them coming to play.
As you go around, distribute a $5 off coupon to everyone to be used before your closing date and it can be applied to any purchase at your club except liquor even in conjunction with any other discount. Do this at least twice a month and at different times to offer it to as many people as possible.
Good luck! Loyalty is earned and champions are made.
To each of you, I wish a very happy holiday season. See you in 2014.