COVID Phase 3
As British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan enter into Phase 3 of the COVID-19 reopening plan we have to ask the question… what is the hurry to return to normal in golf? We’ve spent 18 months (or more) conditioning our golfers (customers) to no rakes in bunkers, no ball washers, not touching the flag stick, no league play and no shotguns starts. In our opinion all of those things have lead to increased revenues, decreased expenses or both, for golf course owners and operators. This is in addition to the positive effect that less ‘equipment’ has had on pace of play (for the positive).
We also learned, for the most part, that golf course restaurants are, for the most part, not profitable when open. However on course concessions and beverage carts are. And we learned that average golfer is OK with restaurants not open as long as they can get a cold beverage and a quick bite to eat.
Intermediates Playing Golf
Also during the pandemic when golf was deemed one of the only “safe” sports, the intermediates (ages 19 to 39) flocked to the sport. Whether they played for the first time or first time in a long time they came and enjoyed a round (or more than one). The trick or task of course, will be to keep them engaged in the sport for the long term. We recently read a clip for an NGCOA (U.S.) article that said if we could keep 35% of this group engaged in golf, the industry could be in a good place for a long time! So what are we going to do? That is a topic for another day but we have a few thoughts for now.
How You Manage Your Golf Course(s)
What have learned about our new customers (mostly in that younger demographic) in the past two years:
- They didn’t care that there were not ball washers on the course
- They didn’t care that there were not rakes in the bunkers (the foot wedge rule worked fine for them)
- They didn’t care about league play, handicaps or competition
- They don’t really know what a shotgun start is
- They come out to enjoy the day with family or friends and have fun
- They enjoy a cold one, or two and like to have new equipment, apparel and gear
Here is the list of positives we (golf course owners/ operators) learned and could take away from the above lessons:
- Not having to fill ball washers daily with soapy water saves time and labour for the grounds crew
- Not having rakes and having a local rule about bunkers saves time and labour for the grounds crew AND increases pace of play
- Not having leagues saves time and labour for the Golf Shop and restaurant plus you don’t have to discount your fees for leagues AND increases pace of play
- Not having shotgun starts is far more profitable when running straight tee time starts (more rounds)
Why Go Back to Normal
We understand why private or heavily member/ pass holder courses would maybe be pressured into going back to the ‘old’ way but if you are a public or predominantly green fee golf course the new way is the better way. After the past 20 years, what’s wrong with profiting and putting some dollars back into your biggest asset, the golf course.
We, Jeff and Tara Ciecko of CK Golf write two blogs, one is our 19th Hole Blog where we share personal experiences and the other an Industry Blog where we comment on general business and internet marketing best practices, sales strategies and give golf industry related opinions. We have owned CK Golf for 12 years and provide business services to the golf and other industries. As of July 31, 2016 our life and our business became ‘location independent’. Our 19th Hole Blog is about the places we visit and the things we do. If you have any questions or comments, or happen to be in the same location as us please reach out and contact us anytime.