GolfLincsUK - incorporating Golf Club Marketing.Org

Section 8 - Marketing Your Club - Maximising Your Club Asset

Section 8 - Making the Most of On-Course Assets


8.1.  Property.


8.1.1. On Course Buildings.


a.  Many courses have valuable assets that are not exploited. The most common is the cottage or bungalow that was once occupied by greens staff or the club secretary. Dependent upon the area, these are often let at modest rental. However a bungalow that is let for say £400 per month or £4,800 p.a. can gross a great deal more if put to proper use. Given the benefit of two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and sitting room, they can easily be made available for small societies from 4 persons upwards. Even charging a party of four just £100 per day for accommodation and golf (£700 per week), just 40% occupancy delivers £14,000 p.a. Realistically, with good marketing, each unit will deliver far in excess of that figure and two units could match the income from 40 or 50 members that you could not recruit. Sadly, many club committees lack business acumen and such opportunities are never spotted or there is not the expertise or drive to develop the concept.


b. Some courses, particularly those that were originally developed from complete farms, still have valuable barns and other structures that offer opportunities for conversion to dwelling houses. Often these buildings are simply used as storage for club machinery or supplies without the commercial potential being recognised. If you have such a building, get a planning consultant to take a look at it with a view to at least identifying it’s potential.


8.1.2. Club Restaurant.


The Club Restaurant is often of a really good standard, with staff that are quite capable of maintaining a high quality food service. You cannot afford for it to be otherwise. Deficiencies in your course will be related to other golfers, deficiencies in your catering will go global! You can charge premium prices for a top quality product, but you cannot defend selling a poor quality product at any price. Everyone is a catering expert and will have a view. In the eyes of the majority, your food will define your overall worth.


A lot of the time your staff is simply producing fast food or snacks, but on certain occasions they move into another gear to service club functions. Anyone who has been in the restaurant business will testify to the difficulty of running a successful venture. One of the problems is that there is generally not a secure client base that guarantees that the bills can be met. A golf club restaurant is a different sort of venture. There is a potential client base of 600 or 700 members who may not all make use of the facility, but if it does not operate profitably they all contribute to make up the deficit through the fees they pay. The facility therefore has a fairly solid base and most have scope for business development by competing for outside business. If you have the capacity and are in an area where you can meet the competition on quality and price, why not consider increasing your revenue by taking bookings from the public?

The final message here though has to be; don't try to make your catering profitable by cutting corners in quality. It will seriously damage your overall reputation.


8.1.3.  Half-Way House.


(This item could quite well be in the section on Practical Marketing, but being applicable only to some clubs, may be better dealt with here.)


  1. Asset or Liability

An open half-way house is a real marketing asset; a closed facility is a real marketing minus as players pass by wondering why it’s not open.  Those who have played in North America will be aware that there are only a hand full of clubs that do not have a mid-round facility and a mobile service. Certainly circumstances are different in the UK, but running the facility on Saturday and Sunday should certainly be possible.





Some of the more prestigious club do operate their facility very successfully.  Raising these examples is often met by the retort: “well that’s a posh club” or similar. It may be true, but the fact is that any golf course has a finite number of players on the course at any one time and all look for the same sort of service: viz. a cup of tea, coffee or soup and perhaps some fast food. Posh or not, the demand is pretty well the same.


b.  Recognising the Problems.

Many clubs have a problem where the catering is franchised and the franchisee is concerned that the half-way house will be taking away trade. Similarly, in-house catering can fear being affected by the same problem. The first dilemma is therefore whether the marketing benefit of providing an on-course service outweighs the possible loss to the main catering facility. The experience in North America is that it does. The second problem is that it may not be financially viable to allocate a member of staff to the facility; wages exceeding income. Similarly, it may not be possible to find someone willing to staff the facility.  There is a solution that some clubs may find acceptable.


c.  Solving the Staff/Financial Viability Problem.

Some clubs will already have solved the problem or will be able to do so from existing resources. If you haven’t, consider this. In a lay-by near you there is a well used mobile catering facility. It may be a caravan or a temporary building, but it will be staffed by an expert in providing fast food at prices the lorry driver is prepared to pay.  The operator will be fast, efficient, inexpensive and probably very personable (If he’s not he would have ceased trading).  Q. When does he do his main business?  A. During the working week! At weekends he is closed (the lorry drivers have knocked off and are playing golf!)  He would probably love to staff your facility as a franchisee. You can probably charge him a fee, but you won’t be making a fortune from the catering. However, he will provide just the type of service you require and in marketing terms you will have upped your game quite markedly.




The above document offers some practical considerations for those who wish to improve the marketing performance of their Golf Club. Not all of the topics covered will apply to all clubs and there will be many topics that I have not covered that will apply to others. However, if you examine the marketing efforts of your club against the performance targets I have mentioned, you will certainly come out of the exercise stronger than when you went in. If you find there are areas where you can improve, do not be afraid to take action. Clubs that do take action will be the exception and will stand out from their ‘sticking plaster’ competitors that simply try to solve problems as they arise. It is worth repeating that it is in the nature of committees to simply discuss matters and just tidy up around the fringes! Most will do just that. Be the successful exception.




A real decision is measured by the fact that you have taken a new action. if there's no action you haven't truly decided.

Tony Robbins