There used to be a lot of talk about how the game of golf was shrinking and that the masses no longer want to spend 4 hours (or longer) on a golf course. Then the pandemic hit and interest in the game jumped dramatically.
Some private clubs saw membership boom. They did this by rethinking their marketing. They got smart and spoke to the motivators of potential members. In the wake of the pandemic, people want to give their families great experiences that create lasting positive memories. How can a club do that? Here are five strategies to incorporate into your marketing plan to get the best results.
1. Get visual
Golf is a visually appealing game. Do you want to get golfers excited about your club? Show them beautiful pictures or videos of your course! This is a sport that's all about "being there" and living in the moment. Displaying beautiful imagery can transport a person to a course like nothing else can. And yet, so many golf course websites are overrun by text with outdated images. Let the amazing pictures of your club, course, and facilities tell the story.
Not sure where to start? Follow other clubs on Facebook and Instagram and see what they are doing. Don't forget to showcase more than just your course, such as your event spaces, tournaments, and club culture!
Images via Rouge Valley Country Club
Don't underestimate the power of drone video for your club. A beautiful flyover video can really help non-members gain an understanding of what makes your club unique. Check out this one from Hazeltine National Golf Club it has over 15,000 views!
2. Update your online presence
Your website is likely the first place a potential member will interact with you. You only have one shot to make that great first impression. Invest in your website and update it regularly. Focus on incorporating all those images and videos so that visitors can see what they are missing out on.
Today, websites are so much more than digital brochures. The most successful websites work hard to help answer questions, reduce barriers and engage with visitors. If your website is just a few pages that leave prospects with more questions than answers, then you are missing out on a huge opportunity to educate and gain the trust of your target audience.
3. Grow your email database and work it
If you don't have a robust email database, it's time to start growing it. If you offer online tee times, you're probably gathering lots of email addresses, so way to go! While online tee times are an easy way to capture emails, there are other options.
If your club offers a membership (private or public), create a call-to-action and offer your rates in exchange for an email address. Hazeltine National Golf Club, future host site of the 2024 U.S Amateur Championships and the 2029 Ryder Cup, has been doing this kind of golf marketing for the past several years with tons of success.
After you start collecting names and emails, make sure that you aren't spamming your list. Instead, send them helpful emails that educate and create relationships. Rather than pushing another special or night on the patio with your local band, maybe you can use email to connect prospective members with valuable resources, inform them about club news, or give them a golf tip each week.
4. Leverage social media
Clubs and courses should harness the power of social media by posting multiple pictures of their facility every day with attention-grabbing captions. "The first tee is open and waiting for you!" With a shot of the first tee, or maybe the approach with a shot of the first green.
Perhaps it's an image of the toughest water carry on the course with the line, "guess how many balls this pond has collected today?" Regardless of the post, put your images, videos, tips and more on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or TikTok.
Remember, golf is a visual game and your job is to spread awareness and make people want to be there!
5. Tell your best stories
There's an opportunity to begin a new narrative in private golf club marketing. A storyline that communicates what makes golf a wonderful game for all ages; the game of a lifetime. And how a club can be a safe, welcoming home away from home.
Share the stories of your patrons and people who enjoy the game. Share the story of the person who plays more rounds than anyone else at your club. Or perhaps it's the story of the person whose golf shoes are older than most of the other members.
Whatever the angle, inspire prospective golfers with stories of the game. Not just another deal or sale in the golf shop, instead focus on one of the other things that makes golf the greatest game created; connecting with people.