Justin Foster, the 2016 Connecticut PGA Section Assistant Golf Professional of the Year and 2019 Section Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities, is the PGA Head Golf Professional at Ridgewood Country Club, in Danbury, Connecticut.
Justin Foster on the importance of creating a memorable first impression with a pristine practice range:
How do you make a positive first impression on a guest? A prospective member? How do you continue to cater to and please those long-time, dedicated members who have been at your facility longer than you have? At Ridgewood Country Club, I offer an array of player development programs, as well as an award-winning golf shop. But that ever-important first impression is made on the practice range. Spatially, our range is a little limited in terms of how far golfers can hit the ball. So, my feeling is that where we might be a bit restricted or bounded by the acreage available for warm up and practice, we can make up for that in other ways. Our range is set up in a fine, meticulous manner that welcomes golfers, and prepares them for a wonderful day of golf. With careful attention and “military-like” precision, we ensure our range is visually pleasing, and very functional. With the abundant amount of teaching that I do, I spend much time on the practice range tee. When I go there in the morning and I look down the range line to ensure every single bag stand is exactly in line with each other. There aren’t any that are turned to the side or even an inch off here or there. Even the width of the range stalls is consistent across the teeing area. The den caddies are filled to the brim at all times and they are positioned in a specific spot within each range stall. After working three Masters Tournaments, I have come to appreciate the precision that goes into such an endeavor. If a guest pulls up and sees an absolutely flawless presentation, and is welcomed by a staff member who’s wiping down their clubs, they can only imagine what else is in store for the day. That’s the first impression I want every golfer to experience every time they’re with us.
Justin Foster on the business impact of creating a memorable first impression with a pristine practice range:
Creating this type of experience is not easy for a staff. Our team is trained and mentored to spot the little things before the members do. Members appreciate the care and attention we put into the entire golf operation. Whether we speak of spotless golf carts, well-run and organized events, a quaint and warm golf shop that resembles a specialty shop in the Hamptons or Greenwich, or the practice range, where most golfers go to warm up and is generally an afterthought, usually a non-factor in the memories they leave with after play, attention to detail is vital in any successful golf operation. With the health and wellness protocols that the COVID-19 crisis has triggered, all golf facilities are placing added focus on cleanliness, a greater consideration of presentation. Our golf operation has long-strived to “wow” our members and guests with the little things, as much as the beautiful golf course and friendly staff that they came for. We pick up broken tees on the range all day, not just at the end of the day. We even whip the soap used in the club washing buckets. The process produces a lot of foam, which creates an inviting opportunity for golfers to keep their clubs clean, if our attendant is attending to another guest.
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