The Magic Word: Retention

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Jack Dillon shares his five thoughts on how to retain the new golfers at your club

The Masters has just ended. The skies cleared on Thursday, and golf fans everywhere got to enjoy the best players in the game walking amongst the Georgia pines. It was an amazing gift in which to end a season that has no ending. People are still playing golf until the sun goes done. They still cannot get their fill of this game of 18 holes, a round ball: time with friends and family. Despite being challenged on many levels, you and others who operate golf facilities all over the country have been the essential people in our business. The effort has been overwhelming, and all of us at Golf Inc. thank you and your teams for the long hours, hard work, and time spent away from home. Although 2020 will not be soon forgotten, the golf industry will remember it for much more than a virus, racial strife, and the political season of a lifetime.

Every day I continue to talk with golf people. I ask the same things I have been asking since May, but with a twist. Today, the conversation is not only about rounds, number of people still on the tee sheet, and golf merchandise sold… the question both myself and the golf person wants to get a direct answer to is: “what will happen next spring?” The magic word is now retention! The future feels bright, right? It is however, a blank page. With vaccines, a new political era coming to D.C. and so many people looking for work, maybe the magic word should be followed by an oversized question mark? No one is an expert in pandemics, nor in forecasting a new golf season after the best since Arnie and television met. Here however, are my highfives for retention. Yes, I have been on this page before, but today, I am taking a different path to the first tee. Here are my five thoughts on retention:

  1. Engage: set up a plan for all on the team to engage with your golfers and guests. Friendliness is the mission. When your customer likes the way they feel at your facility plan to see them more often
  2. Instruct: yes, this is my big one. When golfers play well, they want to play more. The opposite is also true. Create simple low cost programs with your instructors to help people play better golf. Partner with your instructors on the success. Reward them
  3. Educate: work with your golf suppliers on a program of education regarding clubs, shoes, balls, and apparel. As a long time buyer/merchant, I know golfers want to know about equipment, the real detail. Bring in people, product, and technology to make your place the place to learn about great gear in 2021. Sessions can be held at night to keep people on the course
  4. Create FUN! Build a calendar of fun events: 3 club tourneys, play out of your wife’s bag, junior/adult events, etc. You know many more. Build programs every month that keep people interested in returning to your tee, and playing more golf with you
  5. Communicate: touch base with your golfers each week. Using all of the technology in your wheelhouse, connect with your golfers on topics important to them. Keep it simple, short, frequent, engaging. 

The game is not going away, but there are enough question marks to touch every tee box. I believe we need to stay close to the customer, provide extra-ordinary value, and make your property a place where people want to hang out. Keep the course green, and work to create the happiest staff in the local golf community. No matter how many people play in 2021, begin to create the steps now in order to have more than your share hit your parking lot every day next season. Plan, prepare, execute. Make it Fun!


Jack Dillon writes the highfives series. This is the 10th year for this series. Jack is a speaker, a coach, and an expert in merchandise, service, hiring, and operations. Contact Jack to help build your success. Reach Jack at 407-973-6136 or at Jack lives in Orlando.



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