Making the game important

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Many people from my generation fell into a first job for a really simple reason: we wanted money to spend on needs or wishes. We began as teenagers, as young as 13 or 14 years of age. Those were different days, when the only money we had was money we earned. Even in a first “career” job, the reasons to work can be more about the need for the money, as opposed to the search for the right direction or a lifetime passion.

On your payroll roster you probably have as many reasons why people work for you as there are jobs. Several roles are likely career positions, others in long-term hourly jobs, while still others are in their very first real job. Every person essential to the success of the hospitality that your golfers expect needs to mesh together toward the same goals set by leadership. Each team member is focused on doing their thing while contributing to the success of the whole. Although many on the team view the work of golf as strictly business, the customer views the experience as a game, their great passion. Your course is that place to find challenge, share time with friends, all while enjoying precious away time.One way I believe to build loyalty and retention within the team is by changing the view of the work for team members from the idea of just grabbing a paycheck to one where they see it as golfers see it: something even more than a game.

This In My Opinion post is about tweaking the idea of the business, the conversation itself. If you can get your non-golfing staff to understand the reasons they are asked to do what they do, the benefits, both short and long-term, can be many. Here are my three thoughts on making the game important to your team:

  1. Create an in-house golf university for team members: These indoor classes should be about the game, your course, the language of golf, as well as the games within the game played by golfers. The goal is to create comfort all around the conversations of the game.
  2. Spend quality time on the course: These can be walksshowing the layout,eventually moving to rides around the course during off-peak times, where you get to showthe non-golfers why people love the game. Explain each area of the course: hazards, greens, fairways, etc., in depth.
  3. Use this new knowledge to build confidence in conversation: The overall goal is not to create new golfers from amongst the team. It is to build a group of people that understand the entire operation, and who become comfortable, no longer reticent, and then approaching and conversing with your members and guests about the day on your course.

In addition to the options above, you can move the curriculum onto the practice green to create games with the team. For those interested in wanting to try the game, create an incentive program, where you subsidize the costs, working with your instructional staff on group programs.

While the goal is retention, it is also about deeper engagement. Pay rates have skyrocketed since 2019. Attitudes are very much different. Even if you improve your compensation program, you are still at risk when a competitor decides to up the ante once more. Go beyond the idea of just looking to fill a hole. Begin to look at building careers for your people. Whether in golf or other areas of hospitality, there will be growth opportunities. Speaking again about my generation: 10,000 will retire every single day for the next 15 years. Help your staff and potential recruits to see opportunity and then experience growth in order to build for the longer term. Look beyond just the new pay scale. Look to create an educated team member that sees and senses the opportunity you and the game can provide. Show your team a personal career path.


Jack Dillon is a speaker, author, with experience in building and improving teams and organizations. Please reach out to Jack for support in building a better team, golf shop, or service experience. Jack lives in Orlando, and on Zoom. Reach Jack at jackd@careerdividends.com or 407-973-6136. He cannot help unless you connect.

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