With the Week Two hype of the Seahawks in the Super Bowl on my mind, (and not having grown up as a ‘hawks fan, unbelievable, I know,) I must admit am still enjoying watching my friends, family and so many fellow golf professionals enjoying every moment of the “hype machine” celebrating their favorite team.

This brings to mind the concept of the “Player Development Bandwagon.”  Just like the Seahawks Bandwagon, those who’ve been on the ride for over a decade plus don’t exactly admire those newbies who’ve been swept up by the success.  Similarly, people who have been practicing player development at their facilities for many years may feel resentment toward people just beginning to adopt the practice. The fact is, there is no “bandwagon” for Player Development.

player-development-continuumThis idea of Player Development is not one program or one effort, and it’s certainly not the shotgun approach that I admit we’ve undertaken at the PGA HQ level in the past.  Rather, true Player Development is “Customer Development”.  To do it, a facility must execute a continuous, interrelated sequence of consumer-centric products. Taken one step at a time, the  elements are not perceptibly different from each other, but they build on one another and progress, laddering up customers from the start to their ultimate goal in the game.

I hope you can see from the description above, it takes a fundamental shift in current thinking at the typical golf facility.  Literally, it means “Player Development” becomes a core business practice of the professional staff and the facility.  As a core business practice, player development is best seen as:

  • Intentional new customer creation programs/efforts (focused not on exposure to the game, but conversion to “navigable golf customers”)
  • Purpose-driven customer retention efforts, events and products (focused on deepening engagement, increasing loyalty to the facility, increasing wallet share)…yes, this means it works at private clubs too!
  • Community management and development (focused on events that “ladder up” customers to integrate them from playing golf alone, or just with another person, to interacting, participating in community events…typically low competition/high social value events)
  • Revenue generating activities focused on driving revenue to employers/facility bottom-line (key metrics are rounds of golf, new customer rounds)…this is where the employer, owner or board member will always land…player development is a revenue conversation

Player Development is Good For Us – All of Us!

All PNWPGA members and apprentices benefit with successful Player Development going on at their facility, a neighboring facility or in our region.  The famous phrase, “A rising tide raises all boats,” applies very well here.  Based on current tee sheet marketing practices, I believe we can all agree that “borrowing each other’s players” through discounting, especially “below the floor rate” practices is detrimental to a single facility but also the micro-market that facility is in…discounting does not produce more rounds, but rather shifts rounds around a market on a day to day, month to month basis.  The net result is lower average round rate, less loyal golfers and frankly, more damage done to courses by customers who don’t care about a particular course.  Another brutal fact: It won’t get better on its own.  Player development is the only solution, because it is the only way to create:

  • More demand (through more customers)
  • More rounds = more income/greater job stability
  • More leverage for PGA golf professionals and more income potential
  • More value placed on PGA professionals who can produce income results, versus manage a dwindling customer base

As you look ahead to the 2014 golf season, are you looking for a seat on the “player development bandwagon”,  or are you all in as part of the “Coalition of the Willing, Committed and Engaged?”  Feel free to call or email me to tell me about it, as I’d love to see how I can partner with you to meet your career and facility goals in 2014 and beyond.