What if finding your ideal golf club was like online dating? You get matched with the club that’s right for you based on location, commonalities, and shared interests. It’s a concept the online service Golf Life Navigators is based on, and the site has revolutionized the way prospective members are conducting their search.
In this episode of Crushing Club Marketing, we talk with Golf Life Navigators Co-Founder and CEO Jason Becker, who shares valuable insight from the service's matching process and how it can help club marketers position themselves to potential members.
About Golf Life Navigators
No two clubs are alike in terms of culture, price points, or location, and it can be a challenge for prospective members to find a club that best suits their wishlist. This mindset is what sent Becker on a mission roughly three years ago.
The Golf Life Navigators team was started by grassroots PGA professionals, membership directors, and general managers after all noticed a significant void in the way consumers found private golf clubs in Florida (where there are roughly 600 private club options across the state). They also discovered everyone was relying on the same two things — their peers and the internet. But every peer is going to tell you their club is best, and the internet is overwhelming.
“It’s (joining a private club) going to be probably one of the biggest buying decisions you're ever going to make as a consumer. So, the fact that there was no program in place to help with that, it just still blows my mind today.”
In the beginning, they were fielding hundreds of calls introducing clients to membership directors. But as you can imagine, that became a challenge to facilitate. This is when they developed their ProGuide³ Questionnaire, which has an algorithm that provides up to six best-matched clubs based on the unique criteria of the golfer taking the assessment. As Golf Magazine put it, it’s essentially eHarmony® meets Zillow® for golf clubs and members.
How the Service Helps Clubs
Of course, this service is helpful for those seeking membership, but it also provides tremendous exposure for clubs.
“We've had 7,200 people take the ProGuide3. In terms of number of matches, each person is on average matched to five clubs, so roughly 35,000 matches. Our clubs that are in our program are getting between 10 and 20 prospective members a month.”
Clubs are then introduced to people who are the right match and the unlikely candidates are weeded out in the process.
“We're not necessarily a function or a tool that clubs use to get new members, but more or less to expose themselves to the right member.”
Plus, the answers to the questionnaire give club marketers some background on the person before they call them, creating an ease to the conversation and avoiding the dreaded cold call. Again, that eHarmony synchrony.
Valuable Trend Data From the Questionnaire
The ProGuide3 Questionnaire responses are certainly beneficial to individual clubs but also serve as data to compare trends overall. For instance, Becker tells us that the questionnaire revealed the number one motivation for joining a club (by far) to be the beauty of landscaping. Surprising, right? Another common motivator is a club’s amenities.
Some other notable statistics from the questionnaire that Becker shared during our podcast conversation include:
- The average age of members using the service is 58
- The median initiation budget is $31,000
- 49% of people don't want to live in a gated golf community
- 94% of people like casual dining over formal dining
Those are just a few of the many findings Becker shared during our discussion — some of which you can take with a grain of salt, others that should spark conversation with your team or even your board. What changes should you consider to attract new membership given these trends? What are people searching for that your club could accommodate or provide? These are some questions to take away from the data.
How do clubs get on Golf Life Navigators?
Though this podcast doesn't generally plug products or services, we’re sure there are some listeners wondering how they can get their club in the Golf Life Navigators algorithm. Right now, Golf Life Navigators serves Arizona, Florida, North and South Carolina (though they anticipate expanding their territory in the future).
Becker encourages you to test drive the ProGuide3 on their website golflifenavigators.com and says he’s happy to take calls directly to talk trends, data analytics, or to tell you more about getting the program for your club the program. He can be reached at (239) 292-9929.
“It's exciting on our end and we're happy to share it with the club industry and be a significant piece to the evolution of the club industry.”