By Steve Dirks, Director of Membership Sales and Marketing, The Club at Renaissance, Fort Myers, Fla.
Here at The Club at Renaissance, we recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation of our club and golf course. During the six months the course was closed, we took the time to reappraise our goals and objectives for the club moving forward. One of them was to attract and retain a younger club membership.
Our first step was to create a new outdoor environment that was specifically designed for younger families. When we added our new Rendezvous Pool Bar, we also moved the children’s play area closer to the pool area. This way the kids can play on the jungle gyms outdoors, the moms can relax at the pool and the dads can catch all of the games on our 10 big-screen TVs, all while watching the kids.
Second, we created a short course within our championship golf course that we named “The 54.” We added 14 new elevated tee boxes that sit right next to our cart paths, 80 to 125 yards away from all of the greens for our par 4s and par 5s. Families, including our beginning golfers, love the new short course, which plays to our regulation, championship green areas. Couples are playing this course as well, as both men and women can now tee off from the same tees. It usually takes a little over two hours to play all 18 holes of “The 54.” (Our senior golfers also love it!)
Third, this past year we added kids’ golf and tennis lessons and clinics that are available five days a week, and not just in the summer and during holiday breaks. This is causing families in the area to take notice, and the word is spreading quickly.
Fourth, we added some new features to our Executive (Junior, under 45) Golf category. As we are currently at a non-refundable initiation fee of $50,000 for our regular Golf members, our Executive Golfers now pay $40,000, a 20% discount (as well as a 20% discount on annual dues), and have the option to pay the initiation over 10 years. They can pay $4,500 annually (which is a little more, because the club is financing them) but the added flexibility is enticing to many of our new, younger members.
The result of all these steps? Eleven out of our 20 newest Full Golf members, all of whom joined our club since October, are under the age of 45. All have children, most of whom are under the age of 18.
This is also having a desired effect of bringing the average age of our membership down. And in an unintended consequence, many of our more senior members have said they are noticing, and even enthused, to see more younger people enjoying our club!
As we move forward, many of our new, younger members are starting to refer their friends. We anticipate this trend will continue, and we are developing more family- and kid-friendly programming and menus. As the word gets out, we anticipate a very healthy younger generation of members joining our club.
As we all seek a safer environment for our kids as well as ourselves, the country club of the future may begin to look more like a microcosm of the world around us, with a new, diverse and exciting atmosphere.