A whole new world: bringing new players into the fold

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Players are out in great numbers all across the country, and it is a very special feeling.

Photo by satria setiawan on Unsplash

The world is coming back. Ball games are now on screens everywhere as cornhole gets pushed back to an early AM hour, and yet people are still playing: 9, 18, or more. They are playing in great numbers all across the country, and it is a very special feeling. This game, on steroids, has been fiery hot for more than a year. From a time where most did not know the immediate future for the game to where the game stands today is something very special to comprehend. Even with great wins, there are setbacks. The game, as with every other industry, is struggling to find the right level of staffing to serve the grand crowds. Golf can get through with some of the merchandise shortages we are seeing, but staffing is a service and a health issue. There is also another concern not seen in the grand monthly rounds reports. There are hundreds of thousands of men, women, and juniors new to the game that have joined the game. Yet, you know this game is not all that welcoming to newbies, and in fact treats them often as just another tee time. For the game to grow, golf needs to meet and serve these passionate newbies where they are: anxious and yet not ready for prime time.

As tee sheets have blown up these past 12 months, we have heard many stories of new golfers coming to the first tee. Yet, as a property leader, you know that first tee is holy ground, the place where new, untested golfers are invited only in what used to be off-peak times. The game, in my opinion, needs these people, every one of them. As things settle down to a state less than frantic, properties will have holes in the tee sheet and several empty parking spaces. Looking kindly at these new golfers is an important step in maintaining momentum and cash flowing. Nurturing and supporting their passion should be a goal in this post-virus season. If the game only manages this passion as would a factory assembly line, frustration will creep in and people who were once excited will take their dollars and their interest to a different place. This highfives post provides 5 ideas about these new players and how to keep their golf passion upright:

  1. Have a plan: learn about every person who contacts your property. If you discover they are new to the game, have a program and plan to nurture each one and their desire to learn. Remember, they want to play, so have a learning program that includes some golf each time. Roll out the green carpet.
  2. Develop this program with your team: it is vital to have every team member involved in connecting to these new golfers, developing relationships, while providing each the level of connection that will enhance their joy and frequency. Having people call on the phone, only to be told there are no times, not learning who they are is a problem.
  3. The plan should have several elements: from helping the new golfer with a 5,000-foot view to providing direction on instruction, equipment, rules, and exactly how tee times work is all part of bringing confidence to your new customers. You do not want to kill the passion and lose potential long-term golfers because the beginning act was fumbled.
  4. Continue to work with your team on this concept: Your team will be the reason a program succeeds. As they continue to communicate with these new golfers, it is critical to keep score with your team. They too need to get comfortable instructing new people about the game. Coaching the coaches is an important step.
  5. Sweat the details: I am not a fan of businesses that assume their customers will eventually just “get it.” My belief is that you have a plan, you work that plan, and then tweak as needed. Allowing new golfers to operate on your property without proper and sufficient support will turn many enthusiastic people into couch potatoes.

There is amazing interest in the game of golf at this moment. Work your plan, inviting your entire community to participate. I once suggested most U.S. courses could/should each add 24 new golfers every season. Covid-19 has provided an opportunity far greater. Build a plan, sweat the details, and show love to golfer and staff. This is the time. There should be no woulda, shoulda, coulda on this one.

Jack Dillon writes the highfives series. Jack is a speaker, writer, merchant, and golf operations expert. Now part of Career Dividends, Jack is available to help you build a better golf shop, as well as support your team, especially in the areas of service, sales, and communications. Contact Jack at jackd@careerdividends.com or at 407-973-6136. Jack lives in Orlando and on Zoom.

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