I’m the type of person who loves everything about the sport of golf. Recently, I’ve become more and more interested in joining a private golf club. Given my age, At most clubs, I fall in the junior membership category. I’ve requested information from several clubs in the Twin Cities area and will continue to do so until I feel like I’ve found a place that I feel connected to.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult for me to fall in love with any club because it's hard to grasp what it looks like to be a member from the information available to me online. Having young kids and a full-time job, I am selective about taking time out of my day to tour a potential club till I am more sure I am really interested in it.
Herein lies the problem clubs need to begin addressing.
Golf clubs claim they all want to “get younger,” yet it doesn't seem like they are rushing to adapt to what millennial golfers and families want to accelerate the sales process.
So, as a way to manifest what I am looking for (clubs, pay attention), here's what I really wish clubs would show me if they want to attract younger members.
1. Show me what membership means
For me, it’s important that I know and understand all of the available membership categories for my family and me. For example, how does the club connect with the interests of my wife and my kids? In addition to that, what are the initiation fees and monthly dues? And, what are my options for paying them? Are there payment plans available for my family and me to use?
I really wish I had access to all this information without having to speak with anyone or schedule a tour. If I can’t find membership options and pricing information on your website, I can guarantee I’m going to be frustrated along with everyone else in my generation.
We want less friction during the buying process. In other words, don’t make me adapt to your sales process. Guide me through the process, but allow me to go at my own pace and take detours if I choose to.
Over everything else, I want transparency and authenticity. Always be upfront with all details of membership including annual fees, monthly dues and minimums, and any additional fees I will be required to pay so I can make an informed decision.
2. Show me what playing golf looks like
There are a lot of benefits to joining a private golf club, but for most, golf is of the utmost importance. This goes well beyond the actual course and into the day-in-a-life, so to speak, of the club itself.
How do I request tee times? Can I get a tee time or are there so many members that reserving a tee time is limited? Do I have restrictions when it comes to days of the week or times of the day? Who will I be playing with? Are leagues available to join? If so, how do I join? Are there couples leagues? Are there leagues, instructors, and summer camps for my kids to partake in? And most of all, will I fit in?
Most of these questions can be answered throughout the sales process. I want you to SHOW me how much fun I will be having when I join. You can do this by creating compelling content, such as videos or blog posts. Clubs have fantastic stories both on and off the course, don’t hesitate to share them!
In other words, your website should focus on removing all of my fears and doubts about becoming a member. This in turn will reduce sales barriers and get more people like me interested and ready to sign up to your club.
3. Show me what events look like
What type of social events does the club host? I’m sure there are a fair amount of weddings, banquets, etc. But what about events for the members? They say a picture is worth a thousand words and when it comes to marketing, your photography and videography can be what can take a visitor and turn them into an engaged prospect. One of the key motivators for joining a private club is the community of like-minded people that you are going to enjoy spending time with. Let your website and social media tell that story and showcase your members enjoying the various events you host. Let me see how much fun it will be to be a part of your community!
4. SHOW ME HOW YOU CATER TO FAMILIES
One of the common themes for private club programming today revolves around catering to the needs of all family members. For parents, having onsite childcare or a kids club is a welcoming benefit and can often impact the timing of when a couple will join. If my wife and I can enjoy a round of golf or have dinner and drinks with our friends and not have to worry about daycare, the decision to join becomes a much easier one.
Having onsite childcare can be a huge selling point for a young family or a couple considering having a family down the road. If your club offers this service, scream it from the rooftops. Put it on your site, share it on social media, and include this information in your marketing emails.
5. Show me what the food looks like
The quality of food and dining experience at your club plays a major role in anyone’s decision to become a member. I would love to see your menus, and images of dishes, and know a little more about your head chef. Access to this sort of information and having it readily available on your website is just what I am looking for.
Food isn't just food. Are you serving beef stew or beef tartare or both? Do you serve local favorites? Do you provide gluten-free or vegan options? How often does your menu change? What are your member's favorite meals?
If I'm going to join a club with a food and beverage minimum I want to know that it's somewhere I can envision spending time and money. (And I'm not likely to take time off from work to come in for lunch, or even a meeting, if I don't see a good reason to do so).
6. Show me the culture
I want to know what it would look like if I went to the club on a Sunday afternoon in the fall. Will football be on TV? I understand it’s a golf club, but what if I want to watch the Vikings game? Is there a location in the club where I can go to watch the game with other fans?
And if I’m trying to watch the final round of a tournament on Sunday, is there a fun area to relax and watch golf surrounded by other enthusiasts? Does the room feel comfortable and have modern furniture and technology? Or does it feel stuffy and uncomfortable?
What if I want to go on a Tuesday night to get away from my house and get some work done? With so many of us working remotely in today’s world, can I find a quiet, Wi-Fi friendly area to plug in and get through some emails? Or, what if I want to swing by after a long day of work to de-stress? Is there a happy hour?
If my wife and I go out on a Friday night, will there be other couples like us there enjoying a meal and cocktails? We want to make sure we’re not going to stick out like a sore thumb and be forced to entertain ourselves if we visit the club on a whim.
Once again, you’d be wise to show these things to millennials like me. Share your member's stories, add pages to your website, and share photos on social media. Embrace and showcase your culture!
A great culture video can go a long way.
7. Show me other amenities the club offers
What other amenities do you offer? If your club offers any of the features below, get them in your messaging and on your website.
- Exercise equipment
- Meeting rooms
- Practice facility
- Driving range
- Putting green
- And everything else you offer! (don’t assume we know—or that we'll call to find out)
8. Show me what the experience will look like
If you want my business and the business of other millennials like me, strive to build an online experience that highlights everything it means to be a member of the club. Shape your private club marketing tactics around what’s actually happening at your club every day.
Even if you're a club with a 501c7 status, be mindful that sharing stories and images does not violate your status. Showing us what makes your club unique lets us decide if joining your club will be the right fit.
I hope this perspective can offer insights that are important to future club members like me. We crave information and want to discern this big decision in the comfort of our homes or offices, late at night or early morning so that when we are ready, we won't waste your time. The "selling" will have already been done because we have done our homework. This can only happen if you do more showing and less telling. If you do a good job being transparent and intentional surrounding all the things I said above, you’re going to sell us on the experience. Do you know why? Because we don’t want to miss out on the lifestyle your members experience every day.