How established golf clubs respond as new courses open in their market is crucial and can make or break annual budgets or longer-term success. Perhaps no existing courses know this more keenly than those in Branson, Mo. They have experienced Big Cedar Lodge open multiple courses in the past several years, including one this year and one next.
“It inspired us to sharpen our operation and marketing,” said Dan Davis, PGA, Director of Golf at Branson Hills Golf Club. “We view it as an opportunity to improve.”
To that end, Branson Hills revitalized its clubhouse interior this year, attended the International Association of Golf Tour Operators North American Conference with Hiltons of Branson, added a new lithium battery golf cart fleet, and is offering value specials. The latest special is its “Play All Day” rate for $130. Golfers who play two rounds in one day for an average of $65 per round are getting a great value.
Thousand Hills Golf Resort has also upgraded in multiple ways. It’s adding new, large-group lodging units overlooking its Bob Cupp-designed golf course. These come on the heels of new, on-course bridges and a Yamaha golf cart fleet with updated technology and USB charging ports. Other 2019 highlights are Very Important Golfer (VIG) rates for locals, and more playing events like the monthly Golf Scramble Tournaments that offer on-course contests, games, and prizes.
“Scrambles are a crowd favorite, but they’ve traditionally been too expensive to play in,” said Gary Nelson, Golf Shop Manager. “We simply run our own events and don’t charge a premium for players to join the fun. They’re very popular and sell out quickly. We even put on a Hole-In-One contest, where players have the opportunity to win $10,000 and several golf-trip packages, depending on the hole.”
Holiday Hills introduced its VIP Booking Experience this season, which allows players to quickly and conveniently book and pay for rounds, among other things. By texting “Book” to (417) 374-2220, players can secure tee times. Texting “VIP” opts players in for special offers, and they can even learn about the state of Holiday Hills by texting “Course Conditions.”
“Our guests can book in less than two minutes if they want to pay ahead of time,” said Josh Bowlin, Holiday Hills Head Professional. “It’s worked really well because it allows golfers to save time and easily get the details they need. Also, because we cost significantly less to play than the Big Cedar courses, we work hard to get the word out about our value to golfers who are looking for more affordable playing options.”