July 31, 2015

Brian Tolnar: Run Monthly Family Fun Nights

brian-tolnarBrian Tolnar, the 2013 Western New York PGA Section Golf Professional of the Year, Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities and Player Development Award winner and 2012 Section Youth Player Development Award winner, is the PGA director of golf at Mill Creek MetroParks Golf Courses in Boardman, Ohio.

Brian Tolnar on the importance of running monthly family fun nights:
Over the past couple of years, we’ve thought outside the box when trying to draw new people into to the game. For us at Mill Creek, we are lucky to have a facility that encompasses two 18-hole Donald Ross golf courses, along with a state-of-the-art practice facility and lighted 18-hole par-3 golf course. One of most successful initiatives has been our monthly Family Fun Night Series, held on Saturdays. We have invited families from all walks of life to participate in a free and fun instructional series, exposing them to the game. Included is free golf instruction by our PGA Professional staff, music on the range, free food & beverage, practice drills, games and prizes. The series starts at 6:30 p.m. with three instruction stations that vary from month to month, focusing on every aspect of the game, fitness and course management, in a relaxed, stress-free atmosphere. The night also includes a buffet on the range and ice cream sundaes for dessert. We end the night with a fun contest or competition that ties in to the night’s instruction: an example is using pool noodles to create a bowling-like bumper for putting. Prizes include range ball specials, discounts on lessons and clubfittings, green fees and merchandise in the golf shop.

Brian Tolnar on the business impact of running monthly family fun nights:
The program, which began in April 2015, usually attracts 50-85 people. Mostly via the coupons, range usage is up by more than 20 percent compared to last year, with total rounds on our main and par-3 courses, especially amongst new players, on the rise as well. Additionally, 80-85 percent of players return actively to the facility, and ancillary purchases, such as rental clubs when playing the par-3 course, or the bringing of another friend when using a buy one bucket-get one free card, are up $3-$5 per round. 50-60 percent of the coupons have been redeemed so far, increasing by the day. Four to five participants have come in to purchase apparel after the event, while others have come in prior to pick up a new glove or hat. It’s also a great way to showcase our new food & beverage provider and to help the entire operation grow as a whole. The boost in revenue has also been seen by the added numbers of rounds and the 10 percent increase in food & beverage sales. In addition, our clubfitting and demo days have experienced a slight spike in sales, while giving a shot in the arm to our lesson programs and golf instruction. More importantly, this format has also helped form new friendships, creating new future playing partners and in turn eliminating the pressures that come from being a new player. These nights have been so enjoyable that most attendees sign up for the next event before they depart the current one. The cost to us is minimal, due to our vendors donating their product and our staff investing their time for free. For us at Mill Creek, the program has been a great way to start growing the game of golf in the local community.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email brian@millcreekmetroparks.org