What Golf Clubs Can Do To Address Challenges
IT WOULD be all too easy to believe that all is well within the world of club golf. As we have recorded here several times, clubs are enjoying something of a boom but nobody involved in the sport should be resting on their laurels.
There is so much that can be done to retain your members, keep visitors happy and ensure the tills are ringing.
GIVE SOMETHING BACK
From the feedback we have received from Golfshake subscribers in 2021 it is abundantly clear that some of you feel that your golf club treats you like a cash cow, that all they are interested in extracting your annual subscription.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that many clubs have routinely increased their subscriptions, with some even reintroducing joining fees.
Isn’t it about time that clubs gave something back to their members? There are all sorts of ways of doing this - what about 15 months membership for the price of 12 months? Or special discounts for husbands and wives who renew their subscriptions at the same time? If your membership is full it probably also means that your bar is busy - what about discount cards for loyal members? Or give them a £50 voucher to spend in the pro’s shop. Or maybe a couple of free lessons with the club pro. Who knows? They may enjoy it so much and feel the benefit to the point where they then book more lessons - and pay for them.
If a member pays their annual subscription early, why not give them a discount, either on that year’s fee or for the following year?
When clubs send out their subscription reminders, why not also include a questionnaire asking members what they would like to see happen at the club in the coming months? And provide them with feedback afterwards - the chances are that there will be common themes. Address them, and tell your members what you plan to do or give reasons why can’t do certain things.
Don’t just send them a letter outlining the 1,001 reasons why the club is having to increase its fees.
PUT OUT THE WELCOME MAT
Once upon a time, a potential golf club member had to put on a suit, shirt and tie and sit in front of a committee before being accepted by a golf club. By and large, those days have gone.
But clubs can do so much more to make new members feel welcome. Give them a “buddy”, somebody to introduce them to the course and to fellow members. Encourage them to come forward with suggestions. Tell them that their feedback is encouraged, not frowned upon. Make sure they have contact telephone numbers and email addresses for every key individual at your club - the secretary, the handicap secretary, the captain, the club pro. And make sure that if a new member contacts any of these individuals that they receive a reply!
KEEP THEM INFORMED
Our most recent survey indicated that communication continues to be an issue among UK golf clubs - or, rather, a lack of communication. If you are relieving somebody of £1,000 of their hard-earned money they have every right to expect that you will tell them how that money is going to be spent. Make your members feel valued, that you care about them. Are you planning to refurbish the clubhouse? Are there plans to replace the sand in your bunkers? Will you finally be ripping up the 16th green? Can your members expect to see winter greens?
MAKE VISITORS FEEL WELCOME
Time and again we hear from golfers who roll up to a golf club and are made to feel like aliens. The first point of contact is the club professional. As a matter of course, he or she should give every first-time visitor a quick introduction to the course, telling them what to look out for. And why not hand out strokesavers to every visitor? And tell them that if they return they will receive a discount on their green fee.
If you have a marshal, encourage them to get out on the course and make visitors feel welcome rather than constantly telling them that they are playing too slowly.
When a visitor walks off the 18th green, designate somebody to approach them and ask if they have enjoyed their round. Is there anything they believe could be improved?
HEALTH AND HYGIENE
Everybody who plays will at some point enter your changing rooms. Are they clean and well maintained? Is there always hot water? Do you provide shower gel and clean towels? If not, why not? Is the hand gel regularly checked and topped up? There is no excuse for failing to do this.
I know that I sound like a stuck record on this subject, but there really is no excuse for serving poor food. And with the hospitality industry having been so badly hit by the pandemic, there are now lots of good chefs out there actively looking for work. Make it your business to go and recruit a respected chef - and give them carte blanche to prepare a new and mouthwatering menu that will appeal to golfers and the local community alike. There is a great prize waiting for golf clubs who can persuade locals to use their clubhouses as a place to come for a drink and a meal. Why would you close your doors at 4pm during the winter when there is the possibility of attracting locals in the same way that pubs do?
What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)