Operation 36: Shooting for 1 Million Golfers

 As seen in Golf Business July/August 2022 

By Doug McPherson, Contributor, Golf Business:

Matt Reagan is a man on a mission – a mission for a million. His goal: to introduce golf to one million people in the next five years.

He’s been at it awhile. Back in 2010, he and his co-worker Ryan Dailey were working at Keith Hills Golf Club in Buies Creek, North Carolina, when they started looking for a way to boost family participation and develop juniors – not something just for summer.

So they started a program for golfers to visit the course weekly for eight months. After a few years they added software that could track player progress and help pros teach and run the program, which would become what’s now called Operation 36, a full-blown business that works to make the game easier by starting players (adults and juniors) just 25 yards from each green for nine holes. After golfers shoot 36 from that distance, they progressively move farther away over several weeks until they’re comfortable from actual tee boxes.

Reagan says Operation 36 sells licenses (a $2,388 flat annual fee) to golf facilities that have golf pros who want to coach and run the program. “Typically, we work with PGA or LPGA pros who are already working at a facility,” he says.

Reagan says to hit one million golfers, Operation 36 wants to “remove as many barriers as possible” for new locations to get started, and that the company is working on “new, innovative solutions” that might “limit or eliminate the costs for facilities” to be a program location.

But for now, the licensing fee is still in place and it gets courses access to the proprietary software and technology platform, an advisor who helps plan, launch and market the program along with lesson plans with videos, and marketing materials that can be customized to facilities.

Reagan says he purposely designed the program to drive “maximum benefit” to everyone involved. “Pros run the program so they need to benefit financially, but the club needs to as well.”
He adds that a pro running Operation 36 makes on average $125-$180 each hour they coach, and the facility still charges for tee times and that is packaged into the cost of the program to the participant.

In a 2020 survey, Reagan says the average program that was over a year old generated $40,000 in revenue. “We have some clubs that are doing over $200,000 and this doesn't include the facility impact and ancillary from traffic.”

Reagan has a way to go to hit a million golfers. To date, Operation 36 has reached about 86,000 participants with 1,500 golf pros at nearly 600 golf facilities in 14 countries.