Successful country clubs and golf courses cater to their loyal members while attracting future members. Thanks to the rise in driving ranges like Top Golf and younger professional tournament players, more young adults are getting into the game. In fact, 36% of all golfers in the U.S. are between 18 and 39 years old. To drive success at your course in years to come, it’s imperative to reach this budding audience of players.
Now is the perfect time to capitalize on the growth of golf among a new audience while still catering to your existing members. Make a few updates this year to drive new memberships and keep golfers coming back year after year. Here are 5 ways to modernize your golf course or country club.
1. Create an Experience
Think of your course as more than a place to just golf. Give people a reason to want to choose you over your local competitors aside from the green. Consider making your clubhouse a place people want to hang out in by featuring works by local artists, a rotating craft cocktail menu at the bar, and other limited edition “features” that keep people coming back. Even commissioning an Instagram-friendly mural can go a long way in getting free marketing via visitors’ social media pages.
Think about what brands like TopGolf and DriveShack are doing to get new players into the game. They’re offering a fun, low-stakes experience to dip their toes in the water without judgment. It’s strengthened by new technology, low cost of entry (compared to buying equipment), and an overall “cool” factor. Consider ways you could integrate some of the appeal of these driving ranges into your own property at times when it won’t interfere with your existing members’ enjoyment. The goal is to set up an environment where people aren’t intimidated to see you for the first time and then want to keep coming back.
2. Update Your Shop
Have you been stocking the same items year after year? It’s always good to keep staple pieces in stock, but maybe it’s time to test out some new items and brands. Keep an eye on outlets like Golf Threads and Golf Digest, who are also invested in expanding their clientele and will be covering the newest styles. You’ll see what to stock and stay in tune with the newest tends. How else will you know that tie-dye golfwear is in?
3. Open New Lines of Communication
Many country clubs rely on the fact that their clientele enjoys a certain level of personal service. That’s why we find that many businesses in the industry still have a reception desk answering and forwarding all calls. However, this results in busy signals and wait times that annoy callers – and sometimes lose them altogether.
We recommend updating to a VoIP system, which allows callers to use voice menus (IVR) to access the department they need. Instead of being forwarded to make a tee time or dinner reservation, they can get directly to the right person.
And if you want to stand out and provide a valuable service to your guests, then you can integrate texting into your plan. Using your business number, you’ll be able to send and receive texts from your patrons. You can confirm appointments, ask for special requests, and give an even higher level of service by being available over text.
4. Improve Social Media Presence
One of the best ways to spread the word about your club is also free. Golfers who tag your location in their Instagram and Facebook posts are sharing you with all of their followers. Engage with these interactions and encourage more people to share through giveaways. Fill your stories by sharing posts from visitors. They’ll love the exposure and you’ll get authentic content to post throughout the week without your marketing person needing to be on the course.
Additionally, take advantage of the Events section of your Facebook page. Share tournament watch parties, dinner specials, or live music. Each event stands out more than a regular post in your Facebook Feed. Plus, when people mark that they are “going” or “interested in” your event, Facebook will send them reminders. You’ll reach more people and increase attendance.
5. Refresh Your Brand
Search for “country club logo” on Google images and you’ll find a swath of dated, old-fashioned logos in golds and greens. Does it look familiar to your own? Maybe it’s time for a refresh. You want to stay true to your industry with a long-lasting feel, but consider updating toa serif typeface, changing up your colors, and including a high-impact visual element.
Don’t just follow the trends, though. The last thing you want to do is pay for a costly website redesign only to find that today’s trends like gradients become dated in a few years. Consider looking to your own brand history for inspiration. Could you incorporate styles from the year your course was founded, like these 80’s-inspired designs? Is there a landmark statue on property that you could incorporate? Start by thinking about your defining characteristics and open up a brainstorm session with your marketing team. Plus, a total rebrand is a perfect opportunity for press coverage, special events, and many other ways to draw attention to your club.
Younger golfers choose the sport because they want to spend time outside and with their friends. They’re less concerned with score keeping and more interested in making the most of their experience. Newcomers who are introduced to golf through driving ranges will be shopping for a course to call home. You need to be ready to stand out from the pack to keep your memberships growing.
The best way to keep golfers coming back is by focusing on the guest experience and communication. You can provide members more value by allowing them to contact your team via text instead of waiting on hold. Updated phone systems will update your club and make it easier to book services at your property.
Vonix works with country clubs to connect their golf course, catering, event spaces, and restaurants into one simple system. It’s easier than ever to give your team members the tools they need to help your members and guests feel cared for. Contact us for a complimentary consultation today.