Shannon Friday on the importance of utilizing extra space for practice:
We utilize pretty much every bit of green grass we have around our clubhouse as some type of practice area. Our course is a 36-hole public facility, which is the busiest in Oklahoma City. We’ve got two large putting greens, and then we have what we call our academy course, made up of three par-3 holes, and a chipping green and an area where golfers can practice bunker shots. But that’s not all. We have a section of open grass between the parking lot and the clubhouse where we have several different greens with multiple flags. These grassy areas were mowed short for teeing areas and target greens; we’re primarily Bermuda grass, but we overseed that area in rye grass. On any given day, every little tee box is taken up with people practicing. We really utilize every space. For the academy course, we charge a green fee. We also have an all-grass range with 80-plus stations, and we obviously charge for the balls, but everything else out here is free, including the chipping areas and putting green. There are large numbers of people here all day. I think it’s something other courses could do, especially public courses. If they have 20 to 60 yards of open grass around the building somewhere, just mow the grass down to keep it looking nice, put up a couple flags, sell a shag bag or two and some used balls. We created a social type of situation. It’s the place to go to practice in Oklahoma City. We have a lot of regulars who are out here every day, who just chip or putt or both. You’ll often see a new face out there practicing; they start talking to someone they have never met and then next thing you know, they’ve become buddies. There might be three or four of them, and then shortly after, they start playing golf together. They become new golf buddies, yet they never would have come in contact with each other if it wasn’t for these facilities. That’s more rounds of golf for our courses and more residual revenue for the golf shop and for food & beverage.
Shannon Friday on the business impact of utilizing extra space for practice:
Because of the practice area, we sell a variety of practice-related items such as shag bags, practice sticks and used balls. Our food & beverage sales benefit, too. Just on a weekday, we have hundreds of golfers practicing, with dozens putting, many chipping and others using the academy course and the range. They get thirsty and hungry, so they use our restaurant and our snack bar near the chipping greens. We have tables and benches set up so spouses or friends can watch their golfer hit shots, and they’ll usually buy something to eat or drink. We also get more new rounds out of our practice area. Some will come out and just start chipping, and then they’ll see someone that they know decide to play a round together. Instead of an impulse buy, we get impulse play. Revenue goes up in all areas, and it’s a win-win for everybody.