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  We celebrate Halloween this week.  A chance to scare our family and friends, while picking up a candy bar or two.  This got me thinking about the scary place in golf.  For many golfers, this place may even keep them away from the game they love.  The anxiety around this location is so thick, you can slice it with a wedge.  The place: your 1st tee!  If your 1st tee is at the intersection of Boardwalk & Park Place, with the clubhouse, golf shop, and cart paths nearby, the 1st tee becomes the 50 yard line for your golfers, especially poor and infrequent players.  In their angst, they feel every pair of eyes focused on their backswing.  They know this will not end well for their dimpled friend.  Why do we put our guests through a ritual where it frightens them to no end, and surely hurts business?

  It may be time to think different, to look at other areas of your course and find a better location or two from which to begin a day of golf.  For beginners, poor, and infrequent golfers, making them tee off on the 50 yard line is the same as doing a first public the Super Bowl.   It will not go well.  Think, think of ways to improve your guests' day.  Begin to talk with your team about ways to begin the day, so all of your players start in a great mood.  Nothing can kill anticipation for a fun day of golf more than 20 pairs of eyes judging your every waggle.  Discuss ways you and your team can find options.  Moving your guests away from golf's scary place can increase service scorecards, sales, and future rounds.  It can also increase rate.  If you give people an option to begin in the quiet of #7 tee, would they value it enough to pay a few dollars more: I believe so.  Here are 5 thoughts to making your guests feel so much better about your facility:


  1. Start the process of interviewing your golfing guests about their experience level and the idea of beginning their round away from the crowd.  What is the value to them?
  2. Do a thorough study with your team to lay out and play out, every possible option, making certain the flow will work on busy days
  3. Run a few tests on weekdays to see how it works before you change up on your busy days.  Measure the attitude of your golfers who begin elsewhere and see if they are rebooking
  4. Work closely with your on-course marshals to continue to improve as your tests go forward.  This change should be monitored and measured daily.  Have marshals fill out a daily report on what they observe
  5. Experiment as you move forward.  Be mindful that you might use a different strategy based on the day, number of rounds etc.  Important to note that knowing your guests can make a program change easier to communicate, execute, and receive feedback.  It is vital to measure feedback frequently, especially at the beginning. 

  Golf is a great game, but a scary endeavor for many.  If your 1st tee is that A ticket ride that frightens the juice out of the player's grip, you may want to experiment with this option.  Fear not only hurts your sales, it will keep people away, even from the game they love.  Begin to think in new directions.  Ask every question of your team and top guests.  Have brainstorming sessions to gain agreement on a test.  Test, try, test, try, until you see and feel the difference.  Making golfers feel comfortable at your facility can add dollars to your day.  Take the scary away from that first tee ball and watch the rounds grow.  Even if you aren't giving out candy bars, your golfers may just keep ringing your bell.


Jack Dillon writes the highfives blog for Golf Inc.  Jack is a speaker, trainer, and consultant in the areas of golf operations, player development, and the golf shop.  He can be reached at 407-973-6136, and  Jack is always available for a no charge 15 minute phone call.  He has 40 years dedicated to this industry and the game we all love.


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