May 22, 2020

Steve Smith: Be Innovative With Your Facility in the Off-Season

Steve Smith, the 2018 Alabama-NW Florida PGA Section Golf Professional of the Year, the 2016 Section Horton Smith Award winner and the 2011 Section Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities, is a Past President of the Alabama-NW Florida PGA Section Alabama Chapter and the PGA Director of Golf at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Hoover, Alabama.

Steve Smith on the importance of being innovative with your facility in the off-season:

We are a 36-hole facility that has our courses situated on two different physical locations and thus has two separate clubhouses. During the winter, one course – including its practice facility – closes. Four years ago that gave us an opportunity and a question: “What if we made a designated space in the cart barn for a batting cage?” And that’s what we did. It is a net hanging from the ceiling on rollers, and after we arrange the golf cars in a certain way, people roll it out (like a screen in a hospital room) when they wish to use it. The net goes to a corner, creating an area for someone to pitch to them safely. When we don’t need it we just put it back up against the wall. Technically the net can be used anytime but its prime season is from winter and up until April. Sometimes a father and son will come in with a basket of baseballs and the dad will pitch behind the screen to the son. That happens around 10 percent of the time. Mostly, it is used by a gentleman in our area who has some ties to Major League Baseball and coaching who gives lessons there.

Steve Smith on the business impact of being innovative with your facility in the off-season:

We do not charge anything for members to use it – they just need to call us in advance when they wish to use it; that is all we ask of them – but the coach does charge. A small portion of the money brought in goes back to us to pay for the net, balls, and more. Additionally, we have a double-ended driving range and before some really long players joined Greystone no one reached the other end so we put in an actual baseball diamond that includes a real pitcher’s mound, home plate and batter’s box. It’s used mainly for pitching or bunting practice. Business-wise, the biggest impact is member retention. Thirty percent of our members live inside the gates so it helps to get them to stay with us. Multiple people have come up to me thanking us for putting in the cage, saying it was what convinced them to continue being members over a longer period of time. Figure out alternative ways to use your facility in the off-season. It can be a great alternative source of activity and revenue.

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