GolfLincsUK - Incorporating Golf Club Marketing.org
 
                 

Golf Club Marketing & Management - Dedicated to Survival of the Traditional Club

Give your Club a competitive advantage

By: Bob Braban

Head of Education Marketing International  1996-2005 
Winner-Bedfordshire Chambers of Commerce Millenium Marketing Award

Director/Marketing Adviser/Keynote Speaker - International Conferences, Exhibitions & Fairs (ICEF) Berlin - 1998-2005

 
These are the statistics that shout loudly that golf club management and marketing must be improved
1.
100,000 - The drop in golf club members in the UK over the past 12 years.
2.
500,000+ - The increase in membership places since 1998.
3.
800 - The number of new courses since 1998.
4.
4+% - Annual decline in the number of golf club members.
5.
100 - The number of USA courses closing every year!
6.
27% - The percentage of UK golf club web sites that meet essential marketing criteria.
7.
11% - The percentage of UK golf clubs that have appointed a contactable marketing officer.
8.
22% - The percentage of UK clubs that have either no published e-mail address or one that deters contact with the club.
9.
23% - The percentage of golfers who claim no experience of being treated as a valued customer by a golf club.
10. 22 - The number of courses up for sale on 1 december 2014
11. £25,000 to £40,000+ - Potential annual budget reduction achievable by many golf clubs through lateral business thinking,
12.
35% - The percentage of non-golfers who say they do not know how to get started in golf.

It is true that statistics can be made to prove anything, but the above stats do illustrate the fundamental problem facing golf clubs around the world. The UK is particularly badly hit, with massive over-provision that poses a real problem for traditional clubs. There is a fast growing threat from companies like Crown Golf and hotel chains including DeVere and IHG. One only has to look at the 'English Club Golfer' display advertisements to get a feel for the strength of their assault on the market. Their presence is starting to change the way new golfers look at the sport and although some see this as good for golfers, it is certainly not good for the traditional club. You may say that with their current standing the threat from the new providers is not too serious, but they will grow rapidly and they need only reduce a traditional club’s membership by a relatively small number to make that club a casualty, as several have been over the past couple of years. One single fact that you should recognise is that in many regards the main difference between 'them and us' is that they are very good at marketing and management. We could be but are not! Too many good years have made us complacent.

As a golf club member for near 50 years and a former Captain of 3 clubs in the UK (twice) and Germany (once), I feel passionately that every possible measure should be taken to preserve the traditional golf club.  The tier-one prestige clubs much coveted by the rich and famous are not really under threat. It is the local tier-two club that has for decades provided the golf centre for its local community that is most at risk and is least likely to have the resources to ensure survival. Managers know that many have closed over recent years and as we enter 2015, some 22 are up for sale. I know from experience that most clubs have difficulty in balancing the annual budget and are reluctant to spend the sort of money demanded by marketing consultants. Nor do they need to. Anyone who has been involved in running a club will understand that one cannot tackle the marketing task without looking at certain elements of management. Accordingly, this site covers those more obvious management initiatives to which many clubs appear blind.

Good marketing is vital to survival, but is not about spending large sums of money. Marketing is really about developing an enthusiasm for your product and conveying that enthusiasm to potential customers. It takes a good team of members and a little knowledge and understanding. For those involved it can be really rewarding. Most of the required knowledge and understanding is available free on this site.  To meet essential site and admin costs I make the remainder available at a small one-off charge.

The Marketing/Management Element of the Site Contains the following sections:

Section 1. Putting Golf Club Marketing & Management into context
Section 2. A small element of Marketing Theory
Section 3. The Challenges facing traditional clubs
Section 4. Practical Marketing& Management initiatives that have generally not been adopted but are proven to work
Section 5. Involving your customers in your marketing initiatives
Section 6. Promoting your club
Section 7. A look at the membership dilemma
Section 8. Making the most of your existing Assets

DIY Marketing - How to avoid consultancy costs

Marketing v Reality - A look at how successful companies achieve success from marketing

Section 4 & Section 6 Inclusion order form

Comprehensive agenda for a marketing meeting

For those who prefer to read the whole document rather than the individual web page sections, Sections 1,2,3,5,7, and 8 are consolidated into a pdf that will open at this link. In addition, some individual pages have download links for that page.

What we offer? - There are a host of marketing companies moving into the golf market. Quite reasonably they are 'for profit' businesses that will provide a service to anyone who will pay, be they hotels, golf companies or neighbouring clubs who are your direct competitors. Their fees are significant. GolfLincsUK is an initiative by a retired marketing professional that is dedicated to traditional clubs. There are no consultancy day rates or high fees. What is offered mirrors what you will get from a professional consultancy for a very large fee; except that it is almost all free and is backed by a great deal more real golf experience. In fairness to existing subscribers we guarantee not to accept a subscription from a near competitor.

It is regretted that unauthorised downloading has resulted in the practical solutions pages and those on promoting your club, offering tried and tested and original marketing initiatives, being redacted. However, a list of topics covered is on the page. The complete text is provided to subscribers. The package can save tens of hours of research, exorbitant consultancy fees and many hours of pre-meeting administration as well as ensuring inclusion of the initiatives and ideas a meeting will wish to consider. It costs the equivalent of a couple of green fees or a couple of boxes of premium balls! See below for details.

 Before you move on, etch this imperative into your every thought:

 “Our Golf Club is essentially a business and we exist to sell our product to customers – If our business fails, all other aims and aspirations fail with it”

The marketing content of this site is copyright GolfLinksUK 2012

Copies of the consolidated 30 page document in .pdf format, containing all information on this site together with other comprehensive practical marketing initiatives, a 26 topic agenda/prompt and a short skeleton motivational script for your AGM, can be obtained for£95. The document .pdf , script & agenda will then be forwarded to your   e-mail address. The subscription also includes support for 12 months in the form of e-mail advice on specific marketing issues relevant to the purchasing club.

 

A Paypal account is not essential to this process.

Alternatively you can order by post by completing the form at this link

 

(Oz and NZ customers please note: We love your business but Paypal only please - no more cheques!)

 
 Note: It is regretted that for ethical reasons we cannot accept a subscription from any club within a 20 miles radius of an existing subscriber, except where a marketing relationship exists between the two clubs.

 

The Golf Courses of Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire is home to a wealth of top quality golf clubs and courses. Most Lincolnshire courses offer excellent playability throughout all seasons of the year, catering that is of a better quality and significantly less expensive than in most other areas and, for those who want to take a mini-golfing break, there is ample accommodation at affordable prices. Significantly, much of the county enjoys weather that would be the envy of many golfing communities with certain areas getting less rainfall than other parts of the country.

Lincolnshire is already a favourite venue for many golfers from the London area. With many courses less than 2 hours drive on the A1, they are waiting to offer individuals and societies the most friendly of welcomes at even friendlier prices. The approximate location of each course is on the rough map at this link

Since this site was originally designed (2002) the club web site has become a rule rather than an exception and has reduced the need for us to offer comprehensive details on each venue. However, readers will find that some web sites are less user-friendly than others with some seemingly concealing the information you are seeking. If you have a problem, just e-mail or telephone the club for help.

Blankney Advert

If you live in the Sleaford or Lincoln area, Blankney Golf Club offers the best value for money you will find. The course surpasses every one of its competitors for design, layout and presentation and visitors are truly welcomed and not simply tolerated.

MARKETING & MANAGEMENT IMPERATIVES - No.9

Take a Lesson from Samuel Plimsoll

Beware of Falling Standards

In 1873 Samuel Plimsoll the MP for Derby, forced through the House of Commons a bill to improve the safety of ships. A line known as the Plimsoll line was painted around the hull to define the level above which the presence of water would show that the ship was overloaded and thus dangerous. In the present age of desperate change, the adoption of a similar line around golf clubs could serve us well.

The past few years have seen endless surveys covering a wide variety of topics, but in most cases the aim has been to determine what makes the golfer tick and how to improve the take-up and retention of declining golf club memberships. A lot of the surveys have been focused on non-players who have been asked why they have not taken up the game and what changes might lead them to do so. Golf Club committees have looked at these surveys and concluded that the fairly rigid standards of dress and conduct, at one time common to all clubs, were a deterrent to membership and should be relaxed.

Times have changed and the rigid standards once enforced may well be a deterrent. Indeed, there are few existing members that have not accepted that golf should recognise changes in society and modernise its image. Unfortunately, a good number of clubs have failed to determine where the ‘Plimsoll’ line falls and that a reduction of standards beyond a level of social conduct acceptable to society in general can have exactly the opposite to the desired effect.

Conjecture? Certainly not! I have recently become one of several members to change clubs to say goodbye to weak management and ever declining standards. In this case a situation where a former management committee member in a rather dirty tracksuit felt comfortable in entering the bar at 9 p.m. on a Friday evening during a formal function and then being served without demur, defines only part of the problem.  The overriding difficulty is that years of weak management and appeasement of those ignoring even the reduced levels of conduct has resulted in a situation where there is no going back and the committee is powerless to effect a reversal.  

Set your ‘Plimsoll’ line and enforce it. If you don’t, you may pick up a few members that will help balance the books in the short term, but you will certainly lose a lot more. The next downward step is probably opening a weekend takeaway for the local community. It may bring in cash, but it is no longer a golf club.

'Wake up to reality'

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.
Joseph Addison
- English Essayist, Playright, Poet and Politician - 1672 to 1719

Dispelling the SkyCaddie Myth

One hears many golfers complaining about the unjustified charges levied by SkyCaddie after golfers make a very substantial outlay for the basic equipment. More than a few are of the opinion that if you don't continue to pay, you can't use the equipment. NOT SO!

If your subscription is about to expire and you are content that you will not require to keep changing the courses you have downloaded, just cease payment. The equipment will continue to function, but you will not get any course updates etc. I have been told that if you are foolish enough to connect your instrument to your computer, your service will then be interrupted, but have not tested the veracity of the statement. What is certain is that as long as you do not connect to SkyCaddie, the apparatus will continue to function as before.

At around 5 years, you will need a new battery. SkyCaddie will charge you an arm and a leg to fit one. They are available on EBay for around £10 and can be changed in just a few minutes using a special tool also available on EBay for about 25p. These batteries are generally better than those supplied with the apparatus and I have recently completed almost 11 hours use without re-charging.

 

Having Problems with a travel agent or tour operator? Contact travelwatchdog.com

Marketing Your Golf Club - Some Relevant Quotes:

Money coming in says I've made the right marketing decisions.
Adam Osborne

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Benjamin Franklin

If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.
John D. Rockefeller

 

 

 

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Join The Twinning Register

 

Are you a USA, New Zealand, Australian or Continental European club that would like to be in a mutually advantageous twinning arrangement with a club in the UK or Ireland.  If so, please contact us. We are always looking for interested participants.