A colleague asked me to meet with him and his club owner to talk about ways to invigorate the membership and possibly attract new members. I had no previous engagement with the club so I was considered as someone with a fresh perspective. We had an informal meeting to discuss ideas about marketing memberships at their private club. They have been doing some interesting activities and I gave them new ideas as well. Here were some of those ideas:
Introduce the club to the membership. Many probably do not know the history of their club. They also may not be aware of some of the interesting design strategies. Make a short presentation to the members highlighting the important and interesting design features of the course. It sounds self serving, but I have seen people invigorated after a detailed discussion about the design strategies and merits of their golf course. They are made to see many golf holes in a new way that they never contemplated even after years of playing the course.
Give them confidence that they made an excellent choice and they can be confident when contemplating inviting guests and and potential new members. The purpose will be to invigorate members with pride and hopefully embolden them to invite friends, family, and business colleagues to join the Club. Conduct a “Townhall” meeting event to present their course to them and do it in a format that can be easily converted into a pamphlet that can to be given to prospective members.
People like to be perceived as being associated with the right product or movement. This translates to their golf club as well. Members want to be associated with a club that is seen as a positive impact on the land and its natural systems. I related how pleased I was to read about a restaurant I patronized that relied heavily on the strategy of farm to table when choosing food for its menu servings; I felt good about eating there. The golf club is the same way. Publicize the many ways the course positively impacts the environment. There were many ways we discussed: composting, organic cultural practices, alternative energy sources, and so forth. I suggested they put these stories into a format that they an easily update and reissue on a periodic basis. The same approach can be said for the restaurant. Strive to be at the forefront of the farm to table movement, the composting movement, the clean energy movement, the best management practices movement and so on. There is no reason why golf clubs can not be apart of the certification process for programs like the Living Building Challenge.
Along these similar themes have a superintendent’s blog that provides interesting insights into the course and the maintenance operation. The superintendent does not need to write it. The person responsible for producing content can meet with the superintendent periodically to gather information for the blog.
Newer members, particularly younger ones, probably have the largest pool of business colleagues and friends that may be good candidates for membership. Have events where they can invite guests for a day of golf or a wine and hors d'oeuvre party, give a short presentation about the course as described above or at least have the pamphlets available. Use the new members to develop other ideas; they may be the most eager to help.
Always seek to host prestigious local or statewide tournaments. Exposure.
Golfers who have a desire to improve their game will be the ones who most enjoy the club and use it more. So it seems logical to have state of the art teaching facilities, and have a pro who is committed to helping the members play better and is willing to take them out on the course for playing lessons where they can talk strategy and together deepen their appreciation of the design attributes presented by their course. Locally there is a golf pro who took the club's junior program from 3 participants to 100 participants and that can positively impact the club in many ways.
Let the pro conduct pro-am tournaments. For instance he or she can invite local pros who can bring 3 of their members and have a pro-am day. Again, exposure, and it gives your pro an opportunity to show off their facility to your benefit.
What assets do you have on the property or near by that may add value to a membership. They have a farm home and creek on the property. Can it be converted to a fishing lodge? They have an out of town membership so can a fishing lodge add value and attract more visit? Is there an appropriate place for a gun club? Again, activities can add value to the membership.
Younger members want to work out. Is there a way to provide outdoor activities that may be attractive to the active member. They have 3 machines in a room that looks like something a low-cost hotel would provide. If you have a young, active membership or want to attract them then you have to do more research into how they exercise. The answer is probably not 3 machines in a room.
We had a good meeting and it was fun to contemplate different ways to breathe new life into a club.