As I write this article, I am using a Macbook (This is not an ad for Apple). Funny thing, if we go back into Apple’s history. Like some other major multi-national companies, Apple nearly went bankrupt. The legendary Steve Jobs had been fired/forced out of the company, and the new leadership had taken the company into a “muddled, rudderless posture” that increased overhead and thoroughly confused the customers.

For a bit of context, let me encourage you to watch this video of Steve Jobs  right after he had come back to Apple. At the time of this video, it’s 1997 and Jobs has only been back for eight weeks. Historians estimate that Apple had about 90 days of funds left before they would be bankrupt. We can assume that many outside the company saw its impending demise, some were rooting for it in fact.

Early in the meeting, Jobs says, “We’re not trying to do something really high fallutin’ here. We’re trying to get back to the basics…” He then lists the basics for Apple (great products, great marketing and great distribution… essentially the same things for everyone, including golf facilities). He continues by saying, “…Apple has pockets of greatness, but in some ways, we’ve drifted away from doing the basics really well.”

Note: in his list of the basics for Apple, each of them are customer-centric.

  • How do we engage with our customers? (Great marketing, inspirational communication style.)
  • How do our products/experiences connect with our customers? (Great products/experiences.)
  • How good are we at delivering, keeping our promises, delivering consistency, etc. (Great distribution.)

In watching this video, Carmine Gallo (author, speaker and instructor from Harvard) responded with the following in his Forbes article. In response to Jobs’ words in the video, he states “Better questions make better strategy. This should remind us that passion is, indeed, the foundation of everything. You cannot inspire a team unless you’re inspired yourself. But it’s not enough to ask, “What are we passionate about?” That’s a good question, but not good enough. Steve Jobs taught us that inspiring leaders ask deep, meaningful questions about a company’s core purpose.”

 Now that the “dog days of summer” have passed, now is the time follow Jobs and other leaders. Now is the time to ask the right questions. I would suggest you consider asking yourself, (and your lead your team, peers, facility/club leaders) the following questions:

  • What is our current why for existing?
    • Does that why still make sense? Does it resonate with our target customers/members?
    • Where are the “pockets of greatness” in this question for us?
    • Where have we “strayed from the basics?”
    • Have we strayed from our “basics” or our niche/purpose by copying a nearby competitor?
    • Have we gotten distracted from what really drives our customers/members loyalty?
  • What’s our purpose or our belief that drives us to be more than we have been?
    • Does this purpose or belief drive us to innovate?
    • Does it drive us to “think different?”
    • Do we allow “what we do” to cause us to miss innovation opportunities?
  • How do we help our customers (members) achieve their goals in THEIR golf game?
    • Have we fallen into a “transactional experience” model at our facility? (Note: this wouldn’t be an experience at all…picture a turnstile, what’s memorable about that?)
  • How do we help our customers/members find more social, more meaningful connections at our facility?
    • Do we have small experiential opportunities for our customers that will create a memory? Or at least enhance their ability to create a memory?
  • As a facility, what do we stand for?
    • It’s okay to stand for “value-based” golf experiences – some players want that.
    • Think of the myriad of gas station brands out there (or cars, restaurants.) Choose/identify the one that is best fit for who you are…and then own it; stay true to it, and don’t confuse your customers/members.
  • As a team of PGA professionals (or golf staff), what do we stand for?
    • Are we transactional in our approach? Or are we looking for every opportunity to create connection, build rapport and show value.
    • No matter what type of facility you’re at, the customer wants to be valued, wants to belong to something and they want connection. (Trust me: in my career, I’ve been employed at municipal, high-end private, resort and semi-private facilities. Just because they might drive a different car, doesn’t mean they want different things.)
  • What is our place in the micro-economic market (the golf market) we’re in?
    • Are we focused and disciplined enough to “stay in our lane” (and not confuse our customer base?)

What if you, your teammates and your core customers got together to consider most (or all) of the questions. Considering these questions might lead to insightful answers that can play a major role in how your facility communicates and connects its core mission to its customers/members.

This fall, or winter, if you’d like to get together with me to consider these questions (or lead a group “self-discovery” experience at your facility) let’s get together on how we can make it happen. As always, I am here to help you with your career and I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to partner with you on your career.


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Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional/Player Development | Career Consultant
PGA Career Services | PGA of America
Serving PGA professionals, employers in the Pacific NW & Rocky Mountain PGA Sections
Email: Cell: 206/335-5260