A successful club is analogous to “Cheers” for its members—a place you want to go where everybody knows your name. Some years, you get the weather right—but every year, you need to get the “Cheers” factor right.
The “northern” golf season is winding down and the snowbirds are beginning to make their way south. After a slow start, those of us up north (and not just in Michigan) have enjoyed a spring, summer and fall of terrific golf. The play might not have been consistently great, but the weather sure was.
For those of you running northern clubs, it’s a pretty safe bet that rounds played at your club are up this year over last—the PGA PerformanceTrak August Recap confirms it. In fact, PerformanceTrak data reports rounds played were up 2.2% for the month of August, while year-to-date rounds remained up 1.9%. With total annual golf rounds played through August accounting for 73% of those played for the entire year, 2015 rounds are sure to be up. That is good news for the game, and good for your club.
The PGA, USGA, and others are doing a fabulous job launching innovative programs designed to jump-start growth in golf participation. Kudos to them and to the clubs that have implemented one or more of these new ideas. Still, nothing grows the rounds-played numbers better than dry, sunny weather. It happens every year: Rounds down, check the weather; rounds up, ditto.
This is also the time of year when you are in the midst of budget planning. We all know that more rounds played translates to more revenue for the club, so it might be helpful to take some time with the 2016 Farmers’ Almanac weather predictions as you formulate your own 2016 forecast.
On a separate note, the Holy Grail for most golf clubs remains attracting new members. The improved economy and strategic investments in facilities and amenities have enabled many clubs to grow their membership, and some clubs have even been able to re-establish the cherished wait list. Smart clubs have invested wisely and are getting a return on that investment.
Not to be overlooked, however, is that many people join clubs for reasons other than a great clubhouse, pool, fitness center, or first-class food-and-beverage experience. I was reminded of this recently when I conducted my own, very informal research among young (mid-30s) club members, asking them to explain to me why they joined a golf/country club.
Camaraderie with buddies who like to play golf topped the list, followed by networking opportunities to enrich existing business contacts and to establish new ones. Convenience (access to the course and facilities) and quality are important, but pretty much a given, and not a dealmaker in and of themselves. Price/value is a big factor—they are willing to pay for a great experience, but will defer if the price is high and the service low.
Sounds a lot to me like why I joined a club 33 years ago.
You can’t control the weather, but I have always believed a successful club is analogous to “Cheers” for its members—a place you want to go where everybody knows your name. Some years, you get the weather right—but every year, you need to get the “Cheers” factor right.
Come to think of it, I could have written this column 33 years ago, and a future publisher of C&RB can write it 33 years from now.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“I’d give up golf if I didn’t have so many sweaters.”