Golf clubs across the country are closing down and going out of business across the United States of America at an scary rate. Florida, the state with more golf clubs than any other state, is seeing this more and more. A lot of these failing golf communities are blaming the economy, and some are even blaming the current state of the golf world in general; but I see things differently, they should be pointing the finger at themselves.
The golf industry is behind the times in almost every core aspect of running a business in this day and age. Most golf courses still have a website that provides no information and looks like something that my 12 year old daughter could create in a few hours. These golf clubs need to embrace technology and develop a website that both promotes AND generates business. There are a handful of golf marketing businesses that specifically create websites to help generate more business for golf clubs, why aren’t more clubs taking advantage of them?
Another way the golf industry is behind the times is basically marketing in general. Look at how much effort golf course are putting into promoting themselves. Are they even putting any effort into promoting their golf club? The average golf resorts do the following things which they call “marketing”.
They place a black and white ad in the town newspaper showing how they just lowered the price of play. This only gets them into discount wars with their competition which only causes them to lose MORE money. They should instead find something that they do better than the rest of their competition, create a unique sales proposition promoting that something, start promoting their course for that something, and possibly even RAISE prices because they do something the other courses do not.
They place a boring ad in the yellow pages and local phone book. Honestly, with the invention of Google search and the amount of people who use the internet these days, how many people still use the phone book to find information? The answer is that phone book usage is dropping by 10% almost every year because of new technology! These clubs that are spending thousands of dollars a year on this single ad could be directing that extra money towards something more beneficial such as a website or direct mail campaign like I mentioned above.
They place an ad in the local penny saver. Once again, something that is proven to be ineffective in this day and age. Instead they should be looking into fusion marketing techniques and working with other businesses to promote their golf club. They could easily go to the local Cadillac dealer and give away a free round of golf with every car purchase. Not only will the dealership easily accept this offer, but it will get new people, with MONEY, at the course and they will easily make up the lost green fee revenue by the new players paying for a cart fee or eating after the round at the club house. They will even convert some of these players into regulars. Think about that for a second, if they charge forty dollars a round, and the new players plays on average ten times a year, they just made an extra $ 400 off green fees alone. If you get 20 new players a year from the car dealership that’s an extra $ 8,000 a year from a simple green fee promotion with a car dealership!
Another way golf resorts are slowly killing themselves is with real estate. A lot of golf communities that were doing well in the early 2000s are now drowning in a sea of debt because of unsold lots, unsold homes, and not enough members. What can they do to help correct this problem? Lets look at what Juliette Falls, which is a Gated Florida Golf Community, in Dunnellon did. They first got a good website from a company named Legendary Marketing. They built their website into something that looks great and promotes exactly what they do. Well guess what, the economy dropped off and now they have over forty homes that are in the price range of $ 500,000 to more than a million and no one was buying them. How do they turn this around? They came up with a marvelous promotion that’s how! At Juliette Falls you can stay in a golf home worth over a million dollars, play a round of golf, enjoy the onsite spa and eat at a fancy restaurant for $ 199 a night. If they sell only one night for every day of the year, that is over $ 70,000 in additional revenue for the resort AND they get new prospects and leads at the course every single day which they can use to promote to in the future! Why aren’t all the golf communities thinking this way?
As you can see, the golf industry is slowing killing itself by being behind the times in technology, marketing, real estate and a host of other things that will be addressed in a future article. If you are a member of a golf club, or even better part of the members committee, stand up and say something about the actions your club is taking. Tell your club they need to break the mold of what they have been doing because it is not working. Make them think outside the box! Make your golf course management company become accountable for the actions the club takes! It may be the only thing that they can do to save your golf course!