Focus on the existing customers
Thanks to Alex Miceli for highlighting a practical and simple solution to growing the golf game: namely, to value the customer so that his or her business is appreciated (“Golf’s growth key: Retention over outreach,” Jan. 22, http://bit.ly/2Dtd2yF).
I have played many high-end courses, most that would be on everyone’s bucket list, and most have been money mills. From check-in to departure, the culture of these venues has been, We are special. And you, the paying customer, are made to feel like an annoyance. Examples abound: no notice of adverse course conditions, rude employees, overpriced merchandise with that “special logo” and expectation of tips for every service, to name but a few common practices.
Simply put, who would repeat or recommend this as a good experience?
Be upfront about conditions
Your article struck a familiar chord. Some higher-end courses I’ve played were in horrible shape due to weather, and I never would have known from anyone in the pro shop before teeing off.
I love the idea of offering recompense to disgruntled patrons as a measure of goodwill. A complimentary sleeve of Pro V1s wouldn’t hurt.
Playability makes big impression
I agree with your comments. Cost of acquisition versus retaining returning customers is right on.
We play a lot of public courses here in eastern Pennsylvania that offer lunch with each green fee. And of course, lots of senior specials.
But also important is keeping the course playable. Shorter rough to find your ball more easily should you wander off the fairway. Yardage markers or books, as you suggested. Well-identified drop areas around hazards. And rangers available to make sure everyone is having a good time and not being frustrated by other groups.
Marketing for a rainy day
Golf establishments appear not to know of the “loss leader.”
In reference to your golf outing where the course was not great due to rain, a free towel – not the $18.99 ones they usually sell – but a rainy-day towel that is only a few bucks for the course to hand over would have been a nice touch. A rainy-day special in the eatery with a free cup of cocoa, especially if it is cold and windy, might be just the thing to bring me back.
What I am referring to is customer service. Service more than just taking payment for the privilege of playing said course. A little marketing forethought to put together a rainy-day package would be better than an empty course.
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