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January 11, 2012

Mike Woods: Make Your Range a 24-Hour Operation

Mike Woods, the 2008 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities, is the PGA head professional at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento, Calif.

Mike Woods on the importance of making your range a 24-hour operation:
In the late 1980’s, we were faced with a business challenge: Each night during the season, we were turning away customers on the driving range as the sun went down. It was clear to us that both serious golfers and recreational range users enjoyed hitting range balls after work, and would continue to hit balls into the night if we had range lights. This caused us to take a serious look at investing in range lights and analyzing if the return on investment would fit our business needs. The results of adding the range lights exceeded our expectations. The first year we stayed open until 10 p.m. from May through September and found our customers continuing to want to hit range balls even later. The following year, we stayed open until midnight, but still our customers wanted us open later. Every year since, we are open 24 hours a day at our driving range, and it is one of the best business decisions we have ever made at Haggin Oaks. We’ve found that the night customer is different than the day customer. During the day, the customer is typically the average Sacramento-area golfer. After 9 p.m., our range customers are mostly recreational range users. These golfers need to rent clubs, do not have a glove or shoes, and typically come in groups of friends. They are choosing between hitting range balls and activities such as going to the movies, playing pool or darts, going to a bar or playing miniature golf. In their mind, they are golfers who golf on the range. In fact, many of them have never played golf on the course!

Mike Woods on the business impact of making your range a 24-hour operation:
Our return on investment occurred much quicker than we expected. For the last 15 years, our busiest time on the driving range is between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. During that time period, we commonly have all 54 stations full and customers waiting. In fact, during the summer months, we do more range ball rentals at night than we do during the daylight hours. I would encourage any driving range to consider adding lights to their driving range to improve their customer experience and increase their hours of operation to grow the bottom line.