5 ways to focus on the growth at your club

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Jack Dillon shares 'Project 19', a program for golfing and business success

As a former golf buyer, I learned that buying into vendor programs, created better inventory flow, better profits, and greater relationships. For me and the organizations I managed, programs served us well, especially as I grew in the role. The bigger the jobs, the more I had the opportunity to buy (and sell). As we look around our sport today, we also see more. More golfers, more full tee sheets, more opportunity. This industry has been hoping and working towards this position for decades. Because of a health crisis, success has knocked on our door, in some cases, knocked the door down, as several courses are booked for days in advance. This is great stuff, it truly is, but I have a growing fear. That fear has turned into a question: how can we keep these new players, as well as the many players who have returned after being away for several years? What is to prevent them from jumping off as quickly as they jumped in?

Three words come to my mind when I think of these golfers: enthusiasm, frustration, joy. Beginning golfers have great enthusiasm for their new sport, new ways to hang with family or friends, a new challenge, a large, grand diversion. Shortly after the initial enthusiasm for their new game comes frustration. We all know the frustrations inside this game. Then as the story trails on, we hope there is joy for these golfers as they settle into this game for a lifetime. I am convinced however, that we as an industry must create a focus, a purposeful path for these playersso they can fast track to the joy. This post provides a program for you and your team to introduce & test with new golfers, returning golfers, or anyone looking for some added support. For lack of sleep, I will call it: Project 19, a program for golfing & business success. Here are my highfive thoughts for this program:

  1. This program involves group instruction, supervised practice, and golf. I envision 2 options: the first to offer 5, one-hour group lessons, 5, 90 minute sessions of supervised practice and then 4 “rounds” of golf, which includes as many holes 2 hours will provide
  2. Because of social distancing, you may want sessions of no more than 8 people for both the instruction and the practice sessions. Golf should be in 2 or 3-somes
  3. This session of 5-5-4 can cost $99.99, expanding and having another option of 10-10-6 priced at $149.99. The goal of these programs is to get people ready to play, moving them all the way to level joy. It is also to build loyalty to your facility
  4. The defined goal of these programs is to create long time golfers. We are looking for people to participate in this game for a lifetime by providing the tools, the support, and the discipline to develop their skills. I want to grow your rounds and your sales in every department. We, therefore, want to keep the red carpet fresh & welcoming
  5. A critical key is to supervise player growth. It is important, I believe, to nurture their enthusiasm, manage their frustrations, and move them to joy. It is also critical to support every golfer beyond these programs. In my opinion, the industry should create hands-on support for 2 seasons. People who have friends in the game play more. Help create a friendly pool. Frequency, especially in the first 2 months is important for success in the long term.

These programs are not money making programs on the surface, I understand that. At the same time, if we allow golfers to come and go, without providing a long term plan for their success, we may end up where we began, looking to fill tee sheets through discounts, and free meals. A long time ago I learned a secret: When I play well, I want to play more, when I play poorly, I play less. The industry has all of the people and assets required to build this Project 19 program, or any program to grow the game. We should make golf improvement the hub. If we can create programs where operators, managers, and instructors work in unison, for the same end goals, the game can retain many of these new golfers, and then work on continuous growth for years to come.  Create a bonus pool that when these golfers play, spend money, everyone involved wins. Let us all work to keep these new golfers excited, interested and coming back again and again. This time let us do it all with a focus, a focus on growth. Thank you.


Jack Dillon writes the highfives series. Jack has been a part of the golf industry for 47 years. He is an expert on service, purchasing, operations, and new player development. He is co-creator of “Golf for the FUN of it!” Call Jack at 407-973-6136, or e-mail him at Dillonjack53@gmail.com.

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