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April 5, 2018

Patrick Fillian: Evaluate Range Balls on a Monthly Basis

Patrick Fillian is the PGA Head Golf Professional at Echo Lake Country Club, in Westfield, New Jersey.

Patrick Fillian on the importance of implementing procedures that ensure range balls are kept fresh and new:
When evaluating a golf facility many people consider the big picture. The condition of the golf course, variety of merchandise in the golf shop, beauty of the clubhouse, and service of the staff are usually considered first. At Echo Lake Country Club, in Westfield, New Jersey, we have several prestigious golf facilities in our area, including Baltusrol Golf Club, a short five-minute drive from our club. It is vital that we not only pay attention to the big picture, but to the little things that often separate a club from the others. One way we do this is on the range. I always try to make our driving range a top priority in our golf operation. I have always felt it was a great representation of one’s club, as members and guests notice the quality of the grass or mats available, the targets placed about on the range, and probably most important, the condition of the range balls provided. Once per month, a member of our golf operations staff will sort through the range balls we have in play and will remove 10% of them. The balls taken out of rotation will have blemishes, cuts, or discoloration. New balls will replace the old ones and by doing this, our range ball supply will always be predominantly attractive to golfers hitting on our range. They notice this. Anyone who goes to a range leaves with a certain impression, the condition of the range balls is high on all golfers’ lists.

Patrick Fillian on the business impact of implementing procedures that ensure range balls are kept fresh and new:
This seemingly simple process can have long-lasting effects. Our range balls will appear in great shape year-round. If you put a full supply of new balls in play in the spring, by late summer the entire supply will be in bad shape. Rotating 10% of our range balls out each month keeps them fresh all season. This is a best practice that doesn’t necessarily have a directly quantifiable business impact. However, as I stated in the beginning of this piece, big picture isn’t always the best indication of a facility. To “keep up with the Joneses”, you often have to be better than them. And sometimes there are ways that this is within your control. At Echo Lake, replenishing range balls is just one of them. As a result of paying attention to detail on our range and across our facility, we are proud to host several prestigious events in 2018. The AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic will be held in June and the 117th NJSGA Amateur Championship and US Amateur Sectional Qualifier will take place in back to back weeks this July. We have a thriving membership and successful golf shop. We are a golf club with a proud history of promoting the game of golf in New Jersey and by keeping a meticulous eye on the small things as well as the big, we are serving our members, hosting our local amateurs, and growing the game for almost 100 years.


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