Golf course owners and managers are constantly trying to find the magic wand to wave that will bring in more golfers.
Gee if we could just have a nicer clubhouse or better food we would get more people. Maybe.
Let's make the greens faster....slower..
..bigger....smaller....more natural....more plush, then we would get the play we need. Maybe.
How about growing the best grass like Augusta or the most natural look like this year's US Open. Deeper rough like the British or no rough like the Player's. That will work. Maybe.
Don't forget greens fees, membership deals and special rates for special times. Surely if we just lowered our rates, gave away free beer, free range balls and lessons we can get more golfers. Maybe.
If we just made the course longer....shorter....wider....tighter then they will certainly come. Maybe.
Pages of paper could be filled with ideas, brainstorm sessions could drag on for hours all delivering exciting new ideas that will most certainly bring more golfers. MAYBE.
The truth is that the vast majority of golfers play the courses they play because someone invited them. Golf for the amateur is first and foremost a social event. Golfers will continue to play 'their' course as long as they feel invited and look forward to playing with the ladies or the guys or whatever group they belong to. Loyalty to the group first, loyalty to the course 2nd or maybe not at all!
Being successful in business is all about being successful in relationships. Golf course managers need to focus a significant amount of time, energy and money on managing significant relationships. Not just the manager's relationship with the golfers but key and important golfer to golfer relationships.
Create an environment that fosters friendships, on and off the golf course.
As a diagnosed incurable entrepreneur I have learned that the key to success in business lies in relationships with people I call 'Centers Of Influence'. Those rare individuals who always seem to have something going on. They attract others like bears to honey. When they decide to do a local watering hole for wings on a Friday evening it grows to a dozen people. Their foursomes become 8 golfers then a league that has tee times two or three times a week.
Centers Of Influence have traits in common. They love success, not just their own but the success of those around them. The C.O.I. is willing and able to help others. The C.O.I. has a warm and open personality that invites others to come along.
The golf course owner/manager would be well served to take the time to identify those C.O.I. already at the course and build an honest relationship with them. Further take the time to identify other possible C.O.I in the community and get to know them.
Now you can simply create a golf course environment that excites you the owner/manager and the 10 or so C.O.I. that you can count on to build a strong and loyal following. Make it easy and appealing for the C.O.I. to bring friends and family to the course and they will, no maybe about it.
Make the mistake of alleinating the C.O.I. and you're going to lose them, the people they brought along and all those golfers that are going to follow them to the next course. No maybe there.
I am often asked what are the best or most useful training aids. The answer is simple, "the one you will actually use! "
I am always offered new and more effective teaching/training tools by inventors and manufacturers. Mostly I say no thanks. There have been a few that I think would be helpful for the typical golfer.
Allignment aids. Whether they are the expensive "tour sticks" you buy at a pro shop or drive-way markers from Ace Hardware alignment sticks are useful. But an umbrella a ball retriever or even golf clubs laid on the ground will do the trick. Only If you actually go to the range and use them. Otherwise they are just bright orange sticks poking out the top of your golf bag.
Weighted clubs. They are great for timing, rotation, stretching and building strength. However they will not help one little bit if they languish in the back of a closet.
White marking paint. This a can of aerosol that you can use to put a stripe on the ground. Best tool around for learning how to hit the ground after the ball.
I think for the typical recreational golfer those three tools used purposely and regularly would do wonders.
There are fancy electronics, bands, braces, gloves, shoes, apps and even glasses. Save your money, instead get a lesson from an instructor that already has them in his bag of little and rarely used stuff.
You might be surprised to learn that during practice or even during a lesson many of my students focus on something other than what they are actually trying to improve. For instance a golfer may be working on good direction and then focus on the distance the shot traveled rather than paying attention only to the parts of the swing that impact direction.
When you embark on an improvement process, take the time to list in detail the swing parts that must be executed properly to succeed. For instance in a practice session on "direction", focus on alignment first then then club face at impact and finally swing path. Why concern your self with distance or trajectory hight? Don't even concern yourself with quality of contact. Improving contact is another practice/lesson session