Leveraging a PGA Professional’s “Three Pillars” for Success (Part 2: Recruitment)

In the last article, I shared the resonating comment that my mentor, Gus Jones, PGA often said to me, “…these people join this club first, because of the access, the course conditioning and possibly because of the recognition…but THEY STAY BECAUSE OF US.”

Then, I unpacked the meaning of THEY STAY BECAUSE OF US as a value in driving loyal golfer/members through intentional engagement practices including the three pillars of activation, retention and recruitment. I defined “They stay” as a simplified, shorter rephrasing of “they are retained as customers, as clients or as members because of us.” I also shared what the factual value of these golfers staying is. If you missed the previous article and these key points, please read it here.

Before shifting away from retention, I would assert that in our business (if not every business), retention is a foundation to long term success. No golf business can make it over the long haul if nearly all of their income is derived from “new business.” Keeping our loyal golfer/member customers (at least a vast majority of them) and adding new ones is how we sustain and hopefully grow our business (both at the top and bottom lines). Hopefully, I’ve made my point.

Assuming you are engaged in this context regarding the extreme importance of “retention as a pillar of engagement,” we can change the focus of our “engagement lens” and consider recruitment as the second pillar of loyal golfer/member engagement. (If any of this is unclear, please go back to the previous article to see significant figures and examples on the value YOU BRING AS A PROFESSIONAL to your employer and their top line.)


I hate to be a harbinger of cloudy skies, but I think we can all see the current and projected challenges coming with the US economy and thus the golf economy. This includes rising inflation, especially in cost of living spending, for our customers and similar. As discretionary dollars start to tighten up, retention activities designed to keep our current loyal golfer/members engaged will become even more important. Likewise, recruiting new golfers/clients activities, or what we used to call “growing the game,” will likely become critical again (like it was between 2006-2016 or so).

Earlier this year, I heard Steve Tanner, Sr. Director of Player Engagement for the PGA of America, share something to the effect of: “Our Player Engagement team is not just working on current programs like PGA Junior League, we are working ahead to create the right programming that our PGA Professionals will need to be rainmakers and value drivers for their facilities. We may have tee sheets at capacity now, but we need to be ready, and have our PGA Professionals equipped to deliver with player engagement tools when, at some point, it’s needed most…if they’re ready, they will be elevated in their role and our game will be more stable, and that is good for all of us.”

Considerations for loyal golfer/member and client recruiting after the “Covid Bump”:

  • Use the Data at Your Disposal to Get Employer Support: As shared in the previous article (see data provided), the value of retaining loyal golfer/members is incredible, and it’s equally important to share how you’re making that happen with your employer! The data shared was about retention, but recruiting new customers puts them “online” to be engaged, be activated to spend and then be retained over time. It all ties together. In fact, the better you recruit and then orient at the beginning, the longer and more engaged the loyal golfer/member will be over the lifetime or tenure of their time as a customer, meaning they will be more easily retained.
  • Use the Tools/Resources at Your Disposal: Patrick Oropallo, PGA, our Player Engagement Consultant and his colleagues have great tools and resources to share with you including:
    • PGA Profile | The Best Free Promotional Tool Available
      • Get real student leads sent right to your inbox and “pushed” directly to you through your PGA Coach App.
        • ADM Certification, part of the PGA Coach education journey, is essential in order to have an “optimized” PGA Coach Profile that receives student leads.
        • Student Leads – The average PGA Coach PROfile receives 11 students leads!
  • Innovate:
    • Value add to create an experience: based on partnerships you have built with brands you love, businesses you believe in. Add small items, referrals and similar “goodie bags” for your clients when they start (and stay) with you. It will help them get to know you better and help them connect “to you”
    • Stress the social side in the experience and sell it: PGA Modern Coach has great tools for creating on-course evaluation and coaching situations for new customers in a small group setting.
      • Did you know there are “would be clients” looking for coaching that is socially based; who won’t take a private lesson, not because of the price, but “because it’s not enough fun” (or not social enough?)
      • Patrick Oropallo and I have many concepts that we’ve collected over the years that we can share on creating new business opportunities with social golf playing and learning experiences…some of them actually do both. Please ask one of us if you’re interested!
    • Tweak your programming (if necessary) to fit NEW customers needs/wants. Consider that these “yet to be your customers” may have not engaged because of anything other than the schedule (not price, not content or similar.)
  • Ask, Evaluate and Be Responsive: Use online survey tools, like Google Forms, to send simple follow up surveys to your loyal golfers/members, clients, students. Here’s a sample Tam Bronkey, PGA and I worked on for him to evaluate his player engagement programming. Once you get your results, evaluate them and let me or Patrick Oropallo work with you on how to share them with your employer/owner group. (Note: the Net Promoter Score or NPS is a key question to always use and don’t forget to ask for comments, and then read them.)
  • Leverage Your Net Promoters (as Your Ambassador(s)): You’ve created followers, people you influence, etc. as a PGA professional, and your player engagement programming, your team service and similar are great engines for positive word of mouth where these “net promoters” can really help bring new business your way. Don’t be afraid to encourage these ambassadors to share on your behalf (and to give them a little coaching on how to do it effectively.)

In conclusion, I will remind all of us that we each have a “locus of control” (that is the space where what we can control converges with the areas we are passionate about, skilled in and similar). As things seem to get crazier, our locus of control becomes even more important.

In that mindset, and as our golf season begins to wind down…please take steps to evaluate how you’re doing in the “loyal golfer/member engagement game.” How are you doing in the activities for retention and recruiting? Where are the opportunities for you to have some easy wins? How can you leverage these opportunities with your team next season? (Or this coming off season?)

Hopefully, the articles on retention and recruiting have been engaging for you. Next month, we’ll unpack activation (the third pillar for engagement success.) If you have any questions or practices you’d like to share with me or with Patrick Oropallo, PGA (our Player Engagement Consultant) on this subject, I would love to hear from you.

Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional, CEIP
PGA of America | Career C​oach & Consultant​/Certified Interview Coach
Certified Predictive Index Practitioner​

Based in South King County, WA

Book an appointment on Monte’s Calendar

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