March 9, 2017

Ben Hongo: Offer a Comprehensive Golf Development Program

Ben Hongo, the 2002 PGA Aloha Section Teacher of the Year, is the PGA Director of Instructor at the Kapalua Golf Academy in Lahaina, Hawaii.

Ben Hongo on the importance of offering a comprehensive golf development program:
The Kapalua Golf Academy sits on 23 acres of land and includes a practice range, 18-hole putting course, and three full practice holes. I implemented a plan to utilize this space for a player development program that mirrored the PGA’s Get Golf Ready initiative. This goal was achieved with the introduction of “Pau Hana,” which means “finished work.” Leaving work early, heading to the course … what’s better than that? For a monthly fee of $115, golfers get unlimited use of these facilities. In addition, they are invited to a series of 60-minute clinics I conduct every Tuesday and Friday at 4 p.m. Topics differ each session, but cover all the pertinent aspects of the full swing, short game, and putting. I developed this program to increase range revenue and to introduce myself and other instructors to the golfers on the practice facility. This is the third year of its existence and it gets bigger every year.

Ben Hongo on the business impact of offering a comprehensive golf development program:
My intentions were good when I started this program three years ago: Provide a world class practice facility for a nominal cost; involve the golfers in instructional clinics each week; and get exposure for me and my instructors among these dedicated golfers. That first month of the first year, we had three takers. One of them even showed up for a clinic. Needless to say, patience is definitely a virtue, as we’ve grown to 25 members on slow months, and over 100 on those busy months of the year. On average, we bring in over 600 golfers per year. At $115 per golfer per month, that is substantial revenue for a relatively new program, and one that is getting bigger. In addition my instructors and I see about 10 percent of these individuals on a private basis. Residual benefits are plenty as well. Rounds increase. Food & beverage revenues increase. Sales of hard goods also have increased as Pau Hana members seek our advice on equipment as well. Finally, there are benefits to the golfers who are improving and enjoying the game more, as well as my assistants and other instructors. They are learning to teach the game by my example and are developing their own methods and rapport with many Kapalua locals and guests. It is a winning situation for all, and I’m proud of its growth.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email bhongo@troon.com