During my travels this past month, I have been able to see several different types of facilities. I’ve seen “blue collar” publics to high-end privates and everything in between. In general, we have some amazing golf professionals leading staffs who deliver a great golf experience every day here in the PNWPGA Section. However, I believe my value is not just in noticing the great things our colleagues are doing, but to notice the opportunities where they can improve, enhance or better track their results to improve their jobs in terms of security, stability and income.

A central theme I’ve noticed of late is how often I see private clubs promoting their array of memberships and wedding packages. At public facilities, it consists of weddings, catering events and similar. There’s something missing – player development programs!

koch-graphic-07-2015I am not arguing with the need to promote sales of memberships, weddings, events, etc. They are key revenue streams for a vast majority of our facilities. However, there’s one key difference between these types of sales and the sale of player development and golf.

At virtually every facility selling weddings, there is a dedicated wedding salesperson/coordinator. When have they felt the need to “create” brides and grooms? They don’t have to. Likewise, for group events and parties (eg. birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) does the salesperson create the birthday or anniversary?

On the other hand, our industry is different. In golf, we must be actively creating golfers and creating/deepening engagement within our core golfers. Except for a very small percentage, golfers don’t occur naturally like brides, grooms, birthdays and anniversaries. Golfers must be created, nurtured and engaged.

For PGA professionals, it would seem this is our core role and our core business purpose. With that in mind, please ask yourself these two questions:

  1. CAN A GOLFER WALK THROUGH YOUR FACILITY/CLUB AND NOT KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO?

(YOUR CORE BUSINESS.) If you have 5-10k people walking through your course/shop annually, and they don’t know what you WANT TO DO, you’re failing!

Whether you like In n Out or prefer Five Guys, I’d bet we all know what they sell —some of the best burgers and fries in the West. But more importantly, I would suggest their success is based on them staying focused on their core business and what they are purposed to do. Even though many of us know exactly what we want before we arrive, both companies still have a clear menu, a clear “why” for what they’re about and an engaged workforce fully vested in how they do it. Because virtually every square foot of the store shows it, the menu board says it and the staff knows it, so do we.

Note: I’m not suggesting you transform your shop into a menu board, but I am encouraging you to create promotional tools that state your why and your how for “creating and engaging golfers” no matter where they are in their golf experience. In my vision for your facility, every golfer/member would see (and know) that you and your staff are there to:

  • Help them hit better golf shots with programming that fits their busy life, budget, physical capabilities and current golf skill
  • Help them meet new people, deepen current relationships through socially based instruction/playing opportunities that fit their current life stage
  • Help them enjoy playing more, live better and be part of a thriving golf community at your facility

Note 2: ABOVE ARE THE WHY STATEMENTS, which should be supported by actual programming, promotional materials and signage

  1. CAN YOUR EMPLOYER WALK THROUGH YOUR FACILITY/CLUB AND NOT KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO? (AND WHY?)

Thinking more about In n Out or Five Guys, let’s consider the results of why they started and continued on the path they’ve taken. First off, it fit the founders’ why. Secondly, it worked. The path they’ve taken created a loyal fan base of customers, who spend time being ambassadors for the burger place they prefer better. In my lifetime, I cannot recall ever seeing an In n Out discount or promotional offer. I also can’t recall seeing a TV ad for either of these companies. Yet, the major brands have to promote via TV, offer discounts, etc. In your operation at your facility, who would you rather be more like? The brand who enjoys a loyal following of ambassadors who advocate for you and for your programs, or a cynical customer base who choose your brand because of discounts, manipulation marketing or similar?

As golf professionals, we also need to be focused on sharing the why (our why) with our employer. If you completely understand the bullet points above, sharing the why with your employer/Board or owner should be fairly simple. In my vision for your facility, your employer/board member/owner would see (and know) that you and your staff are there to:

  • Create new rounds and revenue through player development programming that meets the needs of your customer (and would be customer) base for the sole purpose of driving profit to the bottom-line
  • Create and provide for an engaging community at the facility/club where customers can thrive and where “brand loyalists” are born, nurtured and actively advocate for the facility
  • Go beyond “PGA-level” service in delivery of programming and daily operations, because “going beyond” facilitates the first two bullets (Simple PGA-service is not a revenue producing why…it’s a reasonable expectation of customers. Meeting expectations doesn’t inspire loyalty or create ambassadors for your facility/club brand either.)

As stated in the beginning, my role is not to tell you what you need to offer. Rather, I am here to help you identify opportunities where you can succeed and meet the needs of your customers, your employer and the like. In the end, it’s my hope to assist you in maximizing these opportunities. Please let me know how I can help you avoid the terrible costs of them (your customers, your employer) NOT KNOWING what you want to do for them for their benefit (and yours) through golf.

Monte Koch, Certified PGA Professional/Player Development
Player Development Regional Mgr/Mentor**
PGA of America (Greater Seattle/PacNW PGA Section)
Email: Mkoch@pgahq.com  Cell: 206/335-5260