August 1, 2016

Attracting the Recreational College Golfer

Through partnership with Nextgengolf and a renovated practice facility, Brookline Golf Course is bringing Millennials to the game

For the Millennial college student who enjoys golf but doesn’t necessarily have the skill to play for the university team, options are limited. Of course, there’s the time constraint. The mix of rigorous academia, extracurricular engagements, work (in some cases) and keg stands leave little time for anything else. Then there’s the cost barrier, as many college students struggle to find pizza money let alone scrounge up $50 for a green fee.

In steps Nextgengolf, a Boston-based company aimed at providing affordable golf membership programs for recreational college golfers. Under CEO Kris Hart, the organization began as College Golf Pass before expanding nationwide after a merger with The National Collegiate Club Golf Association in 2013.The company focuses on helping students form club teams at the irrespective universities, forging affordable rates at nearby facilities, while also providing a fun and competitive playing environment.

“At the core of our organization, we are in the golf experience business,” says Hart. “Our mission is to provide golfing opportunities and make the game more relevant for college students and young adults.” In Boston alone there are roughly a quarter-million college students, and Nextgengolf has been at work partnering with local facilities where these students can practice and play the game. One such facility: Brookline Golf Course, which has been affiliated with Nextgengolf for the last five years supporting various tournaments, golf clinics and other initiatives.

“The relationship has helped us bridge the gap between the Millennial player and the golf facility,” says Tom Ellis, the PGA head professional at Brookline. “With more than 100 colleges and universities in and around the Boston area, as well as a large young professional population, we’ve benefited greatly from the programs offered by Nextgengolf, while also providing an affordable golf option to young people.”

Options provided by Brookline are expanding, as this month the facility is opening its newly renovated practice range. The design flows with the natural contours of the land, utilizing mounding and rock outcroppings. Measuring 125 yards wide by 275 yards deep, the teeing area will include 24 hitting stations with artificial turf. Additionally, the practice tee will have 12,000- square-feet of natural turf that can be used for special events, demo days or recreational gatherings. With additional space to expand, there are plans to include a separate teeing ground, as well as chipping and putting areas in the future.

“The goal of Brookline and our goals are aligned, given we both have a mutual interest. Tom and his staff are great to work with. They treat young adults really well and are the go-to facility for young adults living in Boston,” says Hart, who came up with the idea for Nextgengolf following his own golf experience at Bryant University in Rhode Island. “I wish every golf course was so accommodating to the younger customer.”

Beyond providing college students with a place to practice and play, Hart believes that the new range will also make a huge impact on the city of Boston as whole – since there are only a handful of ranges within 30 minutes of the city “and they are difficult to get to with traffic.” Ellis agrees that the new range will be a great amenity for the city, adding, “We want to provide a new asset to the community, where families can gather for enjoyment whether or not they play golf. We also hope to enhance the player experience for the recreational golfer, while at the same time increasing our revenues in an effort to fund capital improvement projects to the golf course and to our clubhouse.”

The growing partnership with Nextgengolf will also be a viable contributor to the Brookline’s financial success. For example, in 2015, the facility had over 1,000 rounds played through Nextgengolf. The majority of those rounds were played during the shoulder seasons when golf facilities, especially in the Northeast, are looking for creative ways to increase play. “Our relationship will certainly continue to grow with the addition of the new practice range, as our facility will be more attractive to players of all skill levels,” says Ellis. “Not only are we able to provide more opportunities for members of Nextgengolf, but we’re able to increase our programming and rounds of golf as a result. Overall, we’ve forecasted a 15 percent increase on rounds played thanks to the addition of the practice facility.”