Golf Courses Get Creative, Improve Experience On and Beyond Course
Golf continues to adapt in 2015 — increasingly pushing traditional boundaries and embracing change in the form of non-traditional wrinkles — generating an upcycle in the industry.
Golf Board is a prime example. A club-carrying vehicle that allows golfers to play the game and “Surf the Earth” simultaneously, it appeals to people with a sense of adventure, those who like to try new things, younger people, course operators who want their property to stand out from the crowd, and more.
Others include Foot Golf (a hybrid of golf and soccer), Glow Golf (golf in the dark), Top Golf, the VPAR Live Scoring app, and many others.
Getting and keeping customers is invigorating course owners and operators to adjust, re-invent and add to their services.
On the garden-like Hawaiian island of Kauai, for example, courses are creating unique programs for golfers and non-golfers, such as Sunrise Yoga and Sunset Cart Tours a t Princeville Makai, a Practice-and-Play Package at Poipu Bay, and the Get Fit Club at Puakea.
The common denominator of these Kauai golf-and-resort offerings are creative programs born from customer feedback and behavior.
When Salish Cliffs Golf Club head professional David Kass, PGA, realized more male golfers were using Seven Inlets Spa at Little Creek Casino Resort, he researched the subject and found it is part of a growing trend.
“Men are visiting spas more than ever before, representing almost half of the spa-going population in the U.S.,” said Kass. “The average male spa-goer is between 25 and 44 years old, earns over $50,000 and is employed at a management level or above. This is a demographic we value and hence we’ve dedicated more marketing efforts to reach these guests.”
Attention to detail secures customers, by accommodating their preferences whenever feasible. The gaming industry has long followed this approach, and Island Resort and Casino in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula extended the TLC practice to its golf groups at itsSweetgrass Golf Club.
“We do whatever we can to ensure our players have deeply satisfying experiences,” said Scott Delke, VIP services supervisor at Island Resort and Casino. “That may mean a special barbeque meal at the fire pit following golf with cigars and craft brews, or it could be obtaining tickets to a popular show at the casino –whatever they want, we strive to provide.”
These proactive business initiatives are helping courses and resorts succeed and drive more demand from golfers — for rounds, stay-and-play packages and golf travel.
“For a non-Ryder Cup year, interest and buzz about the 2016 event at Hazeltine has been sky-high,” said Jim Ward, president of Premier Golf, licensed by the PGA of America and the exclusive North American Ryder Cup package provider. “There’s definitely high demand for packages to what has turned into the most highly anticipated event in golf, other than the Masters.”
Destinations seeking more players are employing enterprising strategies. TheBranson/Lakes Area in Southwest Missouri is supporting golf tourism in many ways — from dedicating more marketing dollars to helping underwrite high-profile tournaments and more.
“Branson has so many wonderful courses and a huge variety of after-golf activities that appeal to everyone,” said Lynn Berry, communications director for the Branson/Lakes Area CVB. “We’re adding new courses and hosting tournaments like the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge, so the timing is right and the interest strong. It’s a positive confluence of events.”