By Michael Williams, Contributor, Golf Business
It’s been another banner year for the golf business, with rounds and new participants hitting record levels. But as the cold weather descends on much of the country, rounds of golf are beginning to slow and, in some cases, cease altogether. I remember the winter of 2002, my first year in the golf course operations business. It was one of the snowiest winters in recent memory in Washington, DC and there were virtually no rounds played from November to the following April. We had to find ways to keep people coming to the property besides the 36 holes of golf. Today, the same tactics we used are still available to keep the revenue flowing when the water is frozen, along with a few new tricks powered by the advances in technology.
Use your clubhouse as an event space
Take a fresh look at the large spaces in your facility and imagine them being used for events other than the usual weddings and graduation parties. With the pandemic in the rearview mirror, families are gathering again and are looking for venues. Let the public know that you have good space at a reasonable price ready to use for birthdays, corporate holiday parties or whatever occasion they choose to celebrate.
Make your F&B a year-round destination
One of my big assignments as a marketing manager at the DC golf courses was to get our burger named one of the best in the city (shout out to Melva Ellis, who did in fact make the best burger I have ever had). As a result, we had a steady stream of people coming to the property. Whether its a juicy burger, a great selection of craft beer or bourbon, or your take on a regional favorite, make your food and beverage place a year-round destination.
Promote your brand and utilize digital marketing
I love seeing a good golf course logo, especially one that isn’t connected to a “famous” course. The off-season is a good time to take a good look at your logo and branding. Try some variations on your logo; that could be a fresh new version or a throwback to an earlier version. Put some of the pieces on display to get customer feedback. And it’s also a great time to get your whole retail operation online and available to anyone who likes the logo.
Create an indoor golf simulator area
Golf simulators were in the beginning stages of development when I was in operations. It was interesting, but they were expensive, and the user experience wasn’t compelling enough to draw repeat business. Now, simulators are high-quality experiences with versions to fit virtually any size room and budget. Get at least one simulator established for practice and play. You can also book year-round instruction and even set up leagues to play championship courses all over the world. Operators who have embraced the simulator experience find that their tee sheet for virtual golf is as busy as their in-season sheet.
The weather outside may be frightful, but using your resources creatively during the winter months can create revenue streams that are…delightful!