10 Things Golf Clubs Must Do in 2022
GOLF continues to enjoy a boom and while huge progress has been made in many areas it is clear that much still needs to be done to ensure that golf clubs capitalise on the upsurge in interest.
In our most recent survey, we asked golfers to tell us about the way their clubs communicate with them.
This was specifically focused on your experiences at the most recent club you played as a visiting golfer. We wanted to understand how clubs engage with golfers and asked what you thought about this experience and what clubs needed to do to improve the experience and attract more visitors.
More than 600 of you responded and here we round-up your views. It provides a rare insight into an audience of avid golfers who love the game - and who could be the next visitor at your golf club.
The Golf Club Website
The majority of visiting golfers will check out the golf club's website before playing. This means that clubs need to ensure that the information is up to date and accurate and provides all the details visitors will need. n this digital age the club website acts as a virtual shop window, which means it is important that clubs make it look good and use the best possible images of their courses.
Here are some of your thoughts:
"A good, easy-to-navigate website with up-to-date pictures, plus special offers for visitors at quiet times."
"A well laid-out website is an asset. Many visitors review the course and its facilities prior to visiting."
"As a visitor, and as a society organiser I'm looking for easy to access information on price golf and food, a current menu and the course, especially the scorecard. Too many clubs do not give basic information."
"Make sure that information is up-to-date - don’t have links or pages within your website with information that is six or 12 months out of date or no longer apply. Daily course conditions to be kept up-to-date."
"Make sure the website has up-to-date information. Regularly update images so in winter don’t show summer shots as the first shot. Make sure there is a proper booking option."
"I would like to see more clubs using the drone pass over the course to give people a chance to see what they can expect."
"A club’s website is a huge part of their initial attempt to attract visitors. Course flyovers, quotes from review sites, details regarding the clubhouse and catering alongside photographs of the facilities and the course and details of course improvements and maintenance all add to the impression of a club and how it welcomes visitors and members alike and builds an expectation of the experience. Social media such as Twitter and also Facebook are also good additions."
Marketing & Reaching Potential New Golfers
How are new golfers going to know your course exists? There is so much that can now be done to market and promote a golf club using a combination of free social channels and the paid-for advertising opportunities that the likes of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter now provide.
"Pay more attention to your online communication and show you appreciate your existing and prospective customers."
"When playing in visiting societies it would be a good idea if whilst enjoying our coffee and bacon rolls before playing golf if a person from the office addressed the society members and welcomed them to the club and distributed membership leaflets and course survey feedback forms."
"Make sure the nearest Tourist Information Centre has details of your club."
Ensuring Value For Money But Not Needlessly Discounting
Off the back of the biggest boom in golf we have ever seen this might not be something that is seen as worthwhile doing but offering a discount is a great way to instil loyalty, make your members and visitors feel valued which in the long run should serve well in terms of retention and repeat visits.
"Offer repeat visit discounts or short-term member offers. Provide vouchers or email offers once people have visited."
"Offer a discount for non-member guest with an option of discounts on food or drink if purchased together."
"Offer two or three rounds at a reasonable discounted price to let would be members play and get to know the course before joining. A simple three-round card prepaid and stamped by pro shop each round would suffice.”
"Being charged a high visitor fee doesn't encourage me to play the course again."
"Good to have deals such as winter rates, offers to include breakfast on arrival etc, clear website with online booking good too."
Affordability - Does The Course Live Up To The Price?
We need to ask if the boom will last. And with some high increases in pricing how will this be perceived by visitors when they come to book? It is important not to price visitors out of the market and make them feel that clubs are simply cashing in. This was a key comment made within our survey, with several of our respondents saying that they believed golfers who hire a buggy are being penalised. Should more be done to make buggy hire more affordable and an additional benefit of playing rather than another high cost impacting golfers who have no choice but to use a buggy?
"Overpriced golf is the biggest reason for a club being unattractive. The price has to be right. It’s called value for money."
"After Covid a lot of clubs have put the prices up for visitors which can make it expensive. Yes the members need to be looked after but you do need to attract new players too."
"Make green fees more visible e.g. concession rates, etc. Maybe special trial price for first time visitors."
"Overpriced golf is an issue. Most casual golfers are looking for value. If it’s a good course visitors will pay more but most won’t be ripped off by average courses charging too much."
If there is just one thing that golf clubs should be doing above all else it is ensuring from the moment that any visitor walks into their club is that they are greeted in a friendly and welcoming manor. First impressions last and this was clearly evident in the survey comments we received. Clubs must remember that every member of staff is important in the club experience and a friendly smile will go a long way towards making visitors feel welcome within the club. Could that visitor be your next society booking or even you next golf club member?
"Make them welcome and not someone who is going to get in the way of members. When we have visitors at our club, I always say hello and wish them a good round of golf."
"Being polite, efficient and professional is the mainstay of any business. You are the primary contact and should ensure that all visitors are well informed and welcomed."
"Good social media, meet and greet properly on arrival, followed up by proper treatment in the clubhouse."
"Take time to talk with the visitor, you never know who they are. Make them feel welcome. I play in America regularly and there is always a bag drop over there and your clubs are cleaned and ready for your tee time. Might be something we could encourage here. Marshals on the course is always a sign that the club care about your round and how its going."
"First impressions last and any member of staff interacting with visitors needs to realise they are part of the customer service train and lots can be done during that first visit."
Keep Golfers Informed
Adding to the importance of the welcome is also the communication that golfers receive. Any visitor could be your next society booking or golf club member so ensuring they are provided with club information is key. How often are golfers provided with information in relation to the course, what the pro shop may offer in terms of products or deals? And what about the other facilities at the club? The first communication is a great way to sell the additional benefits and thus revenue with a club.
"Make people feel welcome and provide visitors with facilities that will provide income for club. Not one that you play golf and get straight in your car home."
"Give a good welcome, loads of course info. How to find the 1st tee etc if not clear. I don't want pestering with deals, but encouragement to return would be great."
Golfers Want Information
While ensuring a friendly experience may be the top priority for golf clubs there is a lot that could still be done to help inform and provide relevant information. Again this came out highly in terms of the survey comments in relation to golfers eager to ensure they are given clear and concise information - this could be course conditions detailed on the club website, advice on the day in relation to temp greens or maintenance or as simple as improved signage around the course to direct visiting golfers to the next hole.
"Make sure the course is well signposted - I'm amazed how many aren't. On arrival provide info on the course, the layout, the changing rooms, catering, etc."
"Always have a starter who can tell you what to look out for and make you aware of trolley etiquette, etc."
“Visitors should be told about any repairs/ improvements that have been carried recently."
"Perhaps to be up bit more upfront about the state of the course. Too often 'good all year round' turns out to be 'can be very heavy going in autumn and winter'. Forewarned is forearmed, avoiding frustration and disappointment."
The Product - Showcase The Course
Golfers are paying to play the course and this is the product they are buying and what their expectations and thoughts will be based upon. We already know the hard work that greenkeepers do to ensure the courses we play are at their upmost, but can more be done? How well is the course presented on the club website? How well is the course featured and promoted across social media channels? And should the course be undergoing maintenance and not at 100% condition, how well are golfers informed to manage expectations?
"The course itself should be the main attraction to new visitors - its character, challenges, layout."
"The higher end golf clubs don't need to as we are already a captive audience in awe of wanting to play this course. The lesser, more accessible courses should put themselves out there as golf has had a resurgence, they would be missing a trick if they weren’t."
Loyalty For Existing Members
The majority of this feature is centred around visiting golfers but it is important not to forget the importance of the existing members and those who are already loyal to the club and providing regular income. Several comments within the survey focused on this and clearly highlighted a few concerns at some courses with golf clubs putting visitors and visitor revenue ahead of the existing member bases and guaranteed revenue.
"If I were a golf club I would put a higher priority to retaining its current membership before we all become independent golfers. In my opinion unless you want to play a competition every week then there is very little at a club to keep you engaged or to make you feel a part of a club."
"It's a service industry with retail so a focus on the customer should be a pre-requisite. But it's also a 'club' so have to balance the interests of the members."
Clubs Can Be Places For All
We have seen some sterling work done to focus on showcasing how golf clubs are open and available to all and can be used for more that just golf. And while the positive impacts of these initiatives continue to change the way that golf is perceived and some of the outdated attitudes that were historically seen at some golf clubs, it is clearly evident more can still be done.
"Too many clubs concentrate on the gents section and do not include information on the ladies and junior sections which is important to families.
"Be more welcoming, courses that are stuck in the past and don't welcome visitors will crumble as the members die off."
"Don’t treat us like outsiders but golfers that want to enjoy your facilities. At the end of the day we are all there to enjoy golf."
"Don’t treat visitors like second-class golfers. Remember many visitors are members of great golf clubs and know how to behave."
"Make them welcome by offering tea, coffee, drinks with member discount."
So, there you go, 10 common themes that more than 600 golfers commented on whilst completing the 2021 Golfshake Survey focused around golf club communication. As a visiting golfer or even a golf club member of staff, how often do you see any of these put into action?
What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)