Yes, I’m an old guy and my methods are old school.
Yes, my memories of the past are probably far more glorious than the reality. Yes, times have changed and yes, I — as do all of us — live in the past. We live in the past because we have no possible way of knowing the future.
The past is all we have.
Historically speaking, events that have taken place are our only reliable way to help prepare for the future. I think a lot about the future. I enjoy every single moment of every day, but I love the past too.
Without a doubt, times have changed many things — some for the better, some for the worse — but that doesn’t mean for a second that some of the ways in golf clubs were operated 30 to 40 years ago wouldn’t be effective today.
My background is as a golf professional retained by private clubs. I did own and operate an amusement park, but for the most part, it was golf clubs.
I also firmly believe any golf club is better off with a golf professional than without, so today, I am going to list some of my promotional creations in the hope that one or more of them sparks an idea that helps you.
I was the creator of dividing the membership into 18 equal groups and designating each group responsible for divots and ball marks on their hole.
Organize groups of members to travel away on day trips or overnight. My two favorites are 24 guys to Pinehurst for a week and 50 women members on a one-day outing to Stratford, Ont., singing and imbibing on the way, having lunch together, golf, dinner and taking in a stage show before returning home.
Writing letters of introduction for members visiting foreign countries to play. Calling neighbouring clubs to accommodate members who failed to read the newsletter and appeared with three guests during a tournament.
Calling members who hadn’t been out much and invited them for a game.
Play With The Pro. An annual competition that included a threesome of members with any of our golf professionals as the fourth. Low male team played off against low female team for the title. Winners received 66 per cent of purse in oro shop merchandise. Runner-up received 33 per cent. We played with 125 to 175 members per year.
I played in 10 to 15 local pro-ams around our club. That allowed us to run our own pro-am at our club and the other pros returned the favor. The event has been played for 35 years, raising over $1,000,000 for the United Way. We also held the first female member pro-am in Canada. The golf professionals were local assistants.
One time our women’s member-guest tournament was struck by a vicious tornado. The course was in ruins and the golf cancelled. What to do with a $5,000 prize table and a beautiful dinner? Easy. After the ladies showered and changed into their beautiful gowns, we held an indoor mini-putt contest. We went down the stairs, through the locker rooms, around the dining room, into the offices etc. and used the scores for the prizes.
We organized a Champions Day to eliminate all of the problems in getting these events completed. Men’s, Ladies’ and Juniors’ Championships, A, B, C and D flights all played on the same day. Scores were radioed in to a giant scoreboard with CB radios. Over 150 non-playing people came out, watched and enjoyed a barbecue.
As the head professional invited to the ladies opening luncheon, I wore a tux.
We held an annual Pro Lady Day. I played the first hole with group one, the second hole with group two, etc. Each lady was allowed to pin, tie, and hang etc something on me. I didn’t mind the strings of beads, the rubber boots, and the plastic milk bottles around my neck or the endless flowers, but the two baseball gloves were tough to swing in!
Men often have difficulty buying coordinated clothing so we sold 3 shirts, one pair of slacks and one sweater in a coordinated package. We held a Christmas in July sale. At Christmas, we offered free gift wrapping and actually delivered items to members’ homes free.
We had a season-opening shoe sale on Easter weekend. Trade in an old pair and get $10 off a new pair. We brought in 500 to 600 pairs of FootJoy on consignment. We mailed every member an outline of a footprint and when they returned it, they got 15 per cent off. Another $10,000 week end. Plus, we only stocked 24 pairs of shoes for the balance of the year – all white, all soft leather, all mid priced. So much for unsaleable inventory.
We held annual fashion shows using members as models. Wouldn’t you know it? The models always bought their clothes. We sold over $10,000 worth of merchandise and raised a couple of thousand dollars for things around the club.
We had a junior section that grew to over 150 members. We held interclub matches, dances and information nights with guest speakers.
In dredging up all of these old memories from the past I hope one of them provokes a new idea for you that brings some tiny bit of fun into the activities around your club.
I’d love to hear promotional ideas or fun filled activities you’ve used at your club. If I get enough, I’ll share them through an article. Please e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.