If You Build It, They Will Come: Keys to Attracting The Traveling Golfer


By Michael Williams, Contributor, Golf Business 


I recently spent two weeks in Kenya, my first time in that country. Known for its unmatched safari experiences, Kenya is also a budding golf destination. I was invited by travel and tourism entities to see the travel and appeal and attractions that the country holds, both on and off the golf course.

The trip was a life-changing experience for me. I spent 4 days on safari viewing some of the most amazing and majestic creatures on the planet. And I also got a chance to play some really unique courses. None of them would make a list of the top 100 or even 300 courses in the world. But they were truly special golf experiences in the context of a truly special location.

At all of the courses, the warmth and hospitality of the staff was memorable. Eventually, I began to look forward to the different food and drink offerings that would be available at each course. It could be a local barbecue feast or one of the most comprehensive scotch bars that I’ve ever seen. Whether it was a signature hole, a signature dish or a logo that made you want to stockpile shirts and ball markers, each of the courses that I visited had a compelling feature that made you want to tell a friend or, even better, come again and bring a friend.

With the COVID pandemic seemingly in the rearview mirror and golf interest still peaking in the U.S., golf travel is definitely making a comeback. While there are certainly some very well-known destination courses that get most of the ink and attention when it comes to golf travel, every course has the opportunity to be a visit-worthy attraction. Facilities that want to get on the golf traveler’s itinerary should consider the following:


  • What is unique and special about your facility?

  • Do you have merchandise that make for great souvenirs? Could be ball markers, but why not something different like a unique glass for your beers or cocktails?

  • Is your staff prepared to make warm welcomes, magic moments and fond farewells for each and every visitor?

  • Have you been in contact with the travel and tourism authority in your state, regional and local level to let them know about your facility and what you have to offer?


In the same way that safaris are the magnet that will draw golfers to Kenya and have them spend extra time there, the courses in your vicinity that the travel golfer gravitates towards can bring golfers to you and it’s well worth your while to devise ways to get those travel golfers attention and have them visit your facility while in your area. At East Potomac Golf Course in Washington, D.C. where I started in the golf business, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival was one of the city’s biggest tourism draws and thousands of people flocked to the city to walk shoulder to shoulder to see the trees lining the memorials. It could have been a great windfall for our facility, but the National Park Service thought it was wise to actually block the road that led to the course during the peak season. We overcame that by letting travel authorities know that we had visitors 3,000 cherry blossom trees on the course that visitors could view while playing a relaxing round of golf. We even made limited edition seasonal merchandise with a cherry blossom theme that sold out every year. What could have been a disaster turned into a big win for us through golf travel. 

Most courses are successful because of their loyal regular customer base. But don’t overlook the opportunity to put yourself on the map with the travel golfer. The steps you take to make the course memorable for travelers will likely lead to even more loyalty, and more revenue, from those regulars.



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Michael Williams is a contributor for Golf Business, host of Golf Business LIVE, and is the Executive Director for Cyrano Communications (Washington, DC). He is also a contributor for Voice of America (Washington, DC), a member of the USGA Golf Journal Editorial Board, and a contributor for PGA.com. In 2005, Michael launched his first radio show on FOX News Radio Sticks and Stones, a critically acclaimed show that covered golf, business and politics. Since that launch, Michael has established a reputation as a savvy broadcaster and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Michael has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, business, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world.

** The views and opinions featured in Golf Business WEEKLY are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the NGCOA.**