NGF Participation Study Identifies Five Recruitment Incentives Counting golfers and reporting statistics is a core aspect of annual player-census work by the National Golf Foundation (NGF), but it’s not the sum total of the effort. As part of its 2013 Golf Participation Report, the NGF correlated what new golfers say they want with some best practices already occurring at U.S. golf facilities. The bonus information about recruit-and-retain that has emerged breaks down into five categories.
- Family and Friends: Nearly 75 percent of interested non-golfers said they would be highly likely to try golf if a family member or friend invited them. At Woodholme Country Club in Pikesville, Md., PGA Golf Instructor Holly Anderson runs golf clinics where female members can bring up to three friends or guests. The program has helped increase private lessons, rounds played, golf car fee revenue, and participation in Woodholme’s nine-hole ladies league.
- Kids Play Free? About 60% of nongolfer parents reported that they would be highly likely to play if their kids could play or learn with them at no extra charge. Brian Kautz, PGA Director of Golf and Head Professional at Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire, Mich., reports having provided more than 1,200 free junior golf rounds through the property’s “Kids Play Free” program over the last three years. Shanty Creek is increasing customer loyalty and benefitting from additional F&B sales.
- Comp the Buckets: Getting nongolfers to practice at the range will help build their skills and confidence, and allowing them to do so at no cost overcomes the financial barrier. Many golf facilities offer free range balls to those enrolled in individual or group instruction, but not to other customers. Meanwhile, more than 70% of interested non-golfers said they would be highly likely to try golf if a local course provided free range balls for a short, introductory period.
- No Clubs Needed: Almost half of nongolfers said they would act on their interest in playing if there were an affordable ($20 per instruction hour) group lesson program that didn’t require them to bring their own clubs. Get Golf Ready is designed with this feature—could facilities expand on it?
- Improve Marketing and Advertising. More than one out of five interested non-golfers said they would be very likely to act on their interest in playing if a local golf course reached out to them. Referrals, phone calls, email marketing, social media, direct mail, traditional advertising, etc., are effective ways to promote beginner golf programs and bring non-golfers to the course.
The Southern Texas PGA announced that it has partnered with TGA Premier Junior Golf to bring TGA’s Player Pathway to the Southern Texas Section and “seamlessly transition new and current golfers from schools to STPGA programs and tournaments and to PGA Professionals at golf courses,” according to a joint press release. This is the third partnership of its kind between TGA and PGA Sections, following the lead of TGA partnerships with the Northern Texas PGA and Southern California PGA… The 2013 final National Golf Foundation report on Golf Participation, just released, has some interesting takeaways.
Approximately 3.6 million players say they got started as golfers in 2013, split evenly between absolute first-timers and those “with some golf experience.” That 3.6 million has been the players-entering number for many years now. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the “leakage” quotient (more leaving than coming in) has been fairly small compared to the 2008-2010 era, though those years still represent net losses…. Piggybacking on Ryder Cup attendance by golf professionals who specialize in instruction, the combined PGAs of Europe will hold their European Teaching and Coaching Conference Sept. 21-22 at the University of Stirling Management Centre in Scotland. Some 300 attendees are expected…. Among notable recent hires, Matt Henderson, formerly of the Tour Academy in Las Vegas, has been named director of instruction and player development for the University of Tennessee Men’s Golf Team.
Jonathan Yarwood has relocated back to the U.S. and joins Bishops Gate Golf Academy in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., with the title director of performance. Bishops Gate is a new prep boarding school program north of Orlando. In that same market, Matt Fields, former director of golf at the International Junior Golf Academy on Hilton Head has joined the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy as an instructor… CreateSpace Publishing has just released “Bulletproof Putting in Five Easy Lessons” by Michael McTeigue, the former Northern California PGA Teacher of the Year and Stanford MBA. Subtitled as the “Streamlined System for Weekend Golfers,” this paperback ($14.95 retail) and e-book publication “is written for golfers who have limited practice time and no desire to become slaves to the game,” according to the publisher. It is designed to “cut as many as five shots per round from the average player’s score, with minimal effort.”