Dressing up standard “Demo Days” with special features and benefits can add up to a win-win-win for all involved: equipment manufacturers, members and other attendees, and the clubs that host the events.
There are few more-established traditions at any golf facility than the “Demo Day.” On at least one day a year, and in many cases multiple days, these standard events bring the latest in golf equipment to the customers, rather than the other way around.
While hitting stations and display tables on the driving range that tout brands like Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, Ping, Cleveland and many other manufacturers are regular fare at most Demo Days, some clubs add their own special touches to make the events even more memorable—and, even better, profitable.
|SUMMING IT UP
• When ingenuity and marketing efforts are applied, the basic Demo Day concept can be designed to attract more than hard-core golf gear enthusiasts.
• Equipment demo events can be turned into an attraction for the entire family by adding food-and-beverage features, games, and entertainment like bounce houses for the kids.
• More elaborate approaches to Demo Days often yield significant additional revenues from pro shop sales, range memberships, or additional sign-ups for lessons and instruction.
As the examples that follow show, when ingenuity and marketing efforts are applied to the basic Demo Day concept, it can be designed to do more than just attract hard-core golf gear enthusiasts. And when displays of the latest products are embellished with some food-and-beverage offerings, perhaps a few fun, golf-centric games for all ages and skill levels, or even built-in entertainment like bounce houses for the kids, they can become events for the whole family to enjoy, whether or not everyone’s interested in obtaining new equipment.
Done correctly, the added pro shop revenues from golf club and accessory sales will more than pay for demo-day events, while the showcasing of the latest equipment, combined with an instruction component, can be positioned as another special benefit of club membership.
All in all, efforts to take demo days to new levels can add up to a win-win-win for manufacturers, attendees, and the host club.
When April rolls around every year, the more than 1,800 golf members at Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas check their club calendars for the annual “Kickoff Mega-Vendor Demo Day.” The event takes place on a Friday night, and while eight to ten of the club’s most popular vendor partners are showing off their latest product lines, there is a lot more going on for the whole family.
“We’re a very family-oriented club, so we have a lot of things for the family to enjoy, along with all the opportunities to demo the latest [golf] clubs,” says Brad McCullum, PGA Director of Golf. “We have ‘bounce houses,’ games for the kids, and our vendor partners come up with games and contests for people.
“For example, Titleist offers Vokey wedge contests, where people try to hit the ‘B’ in the Brookhaven sign on the range,” McCullum describes. “It’s a carnival-like atmosphere, with finger food, complimentary beer and wine, and we bring out our large ‘Pit-zilla’ smoker to cook some things.”
The annual event is so popular that Brookhaven even opens it up to some other ClubCorp facilities in the area. And to help “soften the blow on new equipment purchases,” McCullum says, the club partners with a local company that helps members sell their old equipment for either trade-in credit on new clubs or pro-shop credit at the club.
Brookhaven typically realizes over $20,000 and often as much as $30,000 in equipment revenues for the evening in pro shop and special orders, McCullum says. In addition to golf clubs, products that are sold include FootJoy shoes, Oakley sunglasses, and a variety of other gift-table items. The club also offers a Junior Demo Day on another occasion, featuring clubs and fittings for kid-friendly brands such as US Kids, Tour Edge and others.
Honing Their Craft
At the semi-private St. Mark Golf Club in the San Diego suburb of San Marcos, Calif., attendees at the two-day Golf & Craft Beer Festival sample brands from Belching Beaver, Karl Strauss, and other local craft brewers and receive a host of other discounts and entertainment, while sampling the Demo Day equipment offerings from most of the industry’s major manufacturers (many of whom are based in nearby Carlsbad).
Attendees who pay a fee of either $15 or $20 are eligible to sample the wares of up to 10 local brewers and several local vintners; for the larger fee, they receive a free round at the club’s 18-hole championship course, as well as a 2-for-1 deal on the club’s executive course. Additional perks include a $25 gift card from TeeOff.com by PGA Tour, a trick-shot show and a free live concert. This year, as part of the club’s Fall Festival in late October, the event ran from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on a Friday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
“We started doing this earlier this year, in May,” says John Phipps, Event Director for the festival. “We had around 1,700 people at the earlier one. The fall one didn’t draw quite as well, although people seemed to enjoy it and got some nice discounts during the days of special pricing.”
The politically prominent membership and staff of Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., know that the year’s golfing season has officially arrived on the third weekend of April, when the club’s 130-yard-long driving range is lined end to end with all the club’s golfing vendors for the annual Expo Day. For five hours, the club’s 3,500 members and staff can enjoy a selection of food and drink while trying out the latest golf equipment and products.
“Our whole staff turns out to help, including our 13 golf instructors on the range,” says Jason Epstein, Director of Golf and Athletics. “It’s a real outdoor party event, and hundreds of our dedicated golfers stop by.
“This year for the first time, we also had a Ladies Expo Day the day after the main Expo Day, to focus exclusively on products for our lady golfers,” Epstein adds.
While the big April Expo Day is the major product showcase event at Congressional, and is listed on the club’s annual Tournament Calendar and promoted heavily in the weeks leading up to the event, a number of other smaller Demo Day events are also held throughout the golfing season.
“We want to do as many Demo Days as possible, so our members can sample the latest products,” Epstein says. “We have a strong relationship with all of our vendor partners, and we’re here for our membership.
“We have to stay ahead of the [equipment] trends,” Epstein adds. “Our members are aware of those things, so we have to stay ahead of new developments.”
All of the effort to promote and organize demo-related events are well worth it to Congressional’s balance sheet; the Expo Day alone, Epstein reports, generates more than $75,000 in sales of golf clubs and other products.
A Range of Possibilities
Not every Demo Day features a huge selection of products for golfers of every age, ability and club-manufacturer preference. Four to six times a year, at the semi-private Bolingbrook (Ill.) Golf Club and its affiliated Golf Academy, Director of Instruction Rick Nelson and Cleveland Golf team up to offer the Cleveland Scoring Clinic.
The 90-minute clinic not only includes short-game instruction from Nelson, but a custom–fitted, Cleveland RTX-3 wedge. The clinics are priced at $149.99, with attendance limited to the first 20 people who sign up, in order to provide time for individual attention, short-game tips and fitting.
The clinics offer a variety of opportunities to try out the new Cleveland wedges on the range and two practice holes, says General Manager Randy Farber, as well as a chance to have in-depth discussions about the latest attributes of the equipment.
“The 90-minute lesson by Rick Nelson teaches proper short-game technique, the technology of the club, and we’ll fit you for that particular club,” Farber says. “We have fitting equipment on site, so you can take the club home with you.
“At $150, that’s within striking distance of a good deal,” he adds. And clearly, those who attend see it that way —virtually every clinic sells out its 20-person capacity within a week of being advertised, Farber reports.
The clinics aren’t just a good deal for the golfing customers, he adds. In addition to presenting them as a value-added service for its 185 members, Bolingbrook picks up ancillary business for both the club’s regulation course and its range after the clinics are held.
“We have quite a few range memberships as a result of the Cleveland events,” Farber says. And at $599 for an annual range membership ($499 for seniors and $299 for juniors), those make significant contributions to the club’s bottom line.