14 Country Club Management Tips: How To Tend The Operations Flag
by Jacob Statler
Running your country club golf course involves multiple moving parts, none more important than the other.
You’ve got to keep your golfers happy, your pro shop up-to-date, equipment maintained, and green in optimal playing condition.
That’s a lot to stay on top of.
No need to be overwhelmed. We’ve got expert tips for running your golf course like a pro.
- Running your golf course operation efficiently equals success
- Tips to run a golf course
- Member services
- Pro shop and equipment
- Golf course upkeep
- AP Automation Brings Your Golf Course Operation Up To Par
Running your golf course operation efficiently equals success
14% more rounds of golf were played in 2020 than in 2019 — the most significant 1 year gain since 1997 when Tiger Woods made golf cool again.
With golf interest on the rise, your country club’s golf course and all its entities must run efficiently. Your course must run like a well-oiled machine — catering to the needs of your players, managing tee times and lesson bookings, the pro shop, tournaments, and all green management — are all a priority.
Golfers expect a smooth operation and fast, enjoyable play. You may not hear a peep when things are running as they should be, but make no bones about it — if your operation is off, the grumbling will commence immediately.
Tips to Run a Country Club — 3 Categories
Club managers wear a lot of hats. Serving club members, running the pro shop, and overseeing golf course maintenance covers a lot of ground. And you can’t afford to neglect any of these areas.
Let’s break these 15 tips on running a golf course into 3 categories:
Member Services Tips
While green upkeep and pro shop operations might be first in mind when you think about running a golf course, keep in mind that those 2 areas don’t matter without happy golfing members.
There are plenty of ways to serve your club members with excellence and a personal touch while ensuring your operation runs efficiently.
#1 Offer online tee booking & lessons
Online tee times and lesson booking streamline the process for your members and free up time. With the technology we have at our fingertips, there’s no need for your staff to spend time on the phone scheduling lessons and tee times.
Automation in this area will allow your members to hop on your website or mobile app and easily choose their slots. A bonus of automation is less room for error, like double-bookings.
Fewer errors make for happy members.
**A quick note here, you may need to train and educate your older, less tech-savvy members on using the scheduling software. Be patient and help them understand how this process best serves them.
#2 Up your social media game
Start a golf course-specific social media account to promote the course and all you have going on (plus highlight tournaments and golfers).
If your club’s marketing department prefers all club posts to run on the main club social media account, be sure to submit new pictures and captions regularly to keep the club course’s content fresh.
#3 Host an après golf hour
Make the most of your busiest golf days by hosting an après golf hour. Encourage golfers to stick around after they wrap up their golf game and socialize a bit — offer light appetizers and classic golf cocktails in the clubhouse to remind your golfers you value them.
Need some cocktail inspiration? The Transfusion is known as “Golf’s greatest cocktail.” Its’ served at most tournaments and a staple drink at Augusta National.
#4 Use email marketing to target your golfing club members
We’re in the digital age, so your club probably already has a members’ email list to send the club newsletter, announcements, and reminders. However, all your club members don’t play golf, so sending golf-specific emails to the entire club list won’t be as powerful and may go unnoticed.
Not sure if emails are worth your time? According to an NGF study, email continues to be the #1 digital channel for return on investment, with an average ROI of 124%.
If your “return” is club member engagement and loyalty, that’s a stout percentage to stew on.
Encourage your golfers to sign up for your email list in addition to the club’s email list (you may end up with a different email address — the club emails may go to a family email, where yours will target the golfers in the family). Have all your staff promote signing up for the pro shop email list.
Once you gather emails, send a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter with announcements, golfer highlights, reminders, and golfing tips.
These types of emails boost engagement and build loyalty in your golfing club members because you’re communicating specifically with them and sending content crafted for them.
#5 Host tournaments
There’s no debate here. Tournaments are important to your golfers. Most play regularly with the next upcoming tournament in mind. So plan your tournament schedule wisely.
57% of millennial golfers say socialization and events are an important part of their golf experience. This is a good reminder that running quality events and tournaments are essential for long-term success in the golf industry.
Tournament success comes down to the details — start with this planning list and add to it as applicable to your golf course operation:
- How many tournaments will be exclusive to club members & how many will be open to the public each year? (Public tournaments bring in revenue)
- Set tournament fees
- Will members get a discount on public tournaments?
- Set your budget
- Ready your golf pros for the event
- Organize the sign-up process — event online landing page & online sign-up process
- Traffic control on the day of the event
- Customize the event for your group size (e.g., shotgun tee times)
- Score the tournament
- Implement safety precautions during the event
- Complimentary drink tickets (public tournaments)
- Goodie Bags and event mementos
- Raffles or auctions for prizes
- The after-golf event
Pro Shop and Equipment Tips
Your pro-shop and equipment are a reflection of your golf course operation. Utilize technology to increase efficiency, enhance management, and provide your players with excellent service.
#6 Automate ordering and inventory
Use software to automate your inventory and ordering to save time and keep your shop well-stocked and equipment running smoothly.
#7 Golf cart maintenance schedule
Keep golf carts running perfectly by scheduling regular maintenance to not affect your golfers.
#8 Install GPS in golf carts
GPS is the newest, latest, and certainly greatest addition to golf course operation management. GPS increases your course efficiency by a fairway length.
Here are the 5 top benefits of golf cart GPS:
- Oversee operations & pace of play more efficiently — know where all your carts are at all times. Even the most well-trained staff can’t possibly keep tabs on every cart on the course in real-time. The ability to see where hold-ups are happening allows your staff to monitor and manage pace of play and keep your golfers happy.
- Geofencing to protect sensitive course areas —- protect your course areas affected by excessive rain or drought. An alarm goes off in the cart and notifies staff when drivers are in prohibited areas. This keeps your course protected.
- 2-Way communication — Your staff can contact players, and they can contact your staff. For example, if a player loses a club in a water hazard on the 7th hole, they can ask for staff assistance. They can also contact the clubhouse when necessary.
- Player safety & warnings — Bad weather on the way? A dangerous animal spotted on the course? Warn your players immediately through the GPS system.
- Advance food orders — You can give players the ability to order food in advance as they wrap up their game. Tired, hungry golfers will love this.
#9 Give your pro shop some love
Your pro shop is a business within a business and presents a prime opportunity for revenue. Don’t let your pro shop fall into a rut of having the same old tired merch from years gone by. Instead, be sure your pro shop is up to date with the latest golf fashion and tools.
#10 Survey your golfers for pro-shop suggestions
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Stock seasonal attire & plenty of it
- Create fresh, eye-pleasing displays
- Place impulse buys upfront (sunscreen, lip balm, cooling towels, or hand warmers…)
- Host demos with your sales reps — this is a tremendous learning opportunity for your golfers and a sales opportunity for your shop
- Have your staff sport the latest shop merchandise
- Make sure your shop staff is well-trained and knowledgeable
- Offer complimentary gift wrap to encourage gift buying
Golf Course Upkeep Tips
Your green is under golfer scrutiny at all times. A golfer will blame the green in a hot minute for a duff or a bogey. Complaints range from “The rough was too thick.” to “There were too many $#%@! divots!”
That’s why your golf course upkeep is of utmost importance.
All greens should be kept in a condition that promotes fast, fun play. If your green upkeep gets off track, you’ll get an earful about it from your golfers. These tips will keep the golfer grumbles at bay.
#11 Post your maintenance schedule
Post your golf course maintenance schedule on the club website, in the pro shop, and send it in a monthly email to your list. This will help members remember that management is doing its best to keep the green in tip-top shape.
#12 Plan mowing & green maintenance on slow days
Most mowing is done with a hand mower for optimum playing conditions, but that takes longer, and you could risk affecting players’ games if you don’t properly plan ahead.
On average, greens are mowed at least 5 days a week. Plan your mowing schedule accordingly to keep your green looking its best while not interfering with your golfers’ games. Set consistent maintenance times and days so that your regular golfers can plan their schedules accordingly.
#13 Irrigation Schedule
The best time to irrigate a golf course is early morning to avoid bad water distribution due to winds later in the day, excessive water evaporation, and inconvenience to golfers who want to play in the afternoon. Also, irrigation should take place on an as-needed basis after checking soil moisture levels and cloud cover.
#15 Pest Control and Fertilizers
Pest control and fertilizers are super important for the health of your green and the enjoyment of your golfers. Plan those schedules accordingly to ensure safety for your golfers and the health of your green.
AP Automation Brings Your Golf Course Operation Up To Par
Golf club management includes all the areas mentioned above plus a slew of vendors and invoices. Streamline your AP with automation to save time, get vendors paid faster, and track expenses more efficiently.
Audits are inevitable. Audits give you an overall financial picture of your golf course operation. However, preparing for an audit can be cumbersome, but AP automation helps organize and streamline your audit process (internal, external, and IRS audits).
Plate IQ offers automation throughout the AP lifecycle to free up your time, increase efficiency, and reduce errors. Automation is the secret sauce to running your golf course at the highest level of excellence. It handles:
- Invoice automation — Paperless invoicing and automatic invoice approval will revolutionize your invoice process.
- Bill pay — Earn cash back while getting your vendors paid faster with the Plate IQ card.
- Insights — Keep an eye on your operation’s financials and efficiently run reports for your board at the click of a button.
- Expense Management — Digital invoice processing and AI-powered GL coding make it a cinch to track expenses.
Take Your Golf Course Operation Strategy Seriously
Running a golf course is a juggling act. It needs to be done with precision, excellence, and high-level customer service.
Halfway in any area, just won’t cut it. Your club members need to be happy, your pro shop and equipment on point, and your green pristine.
Your accounts payable isn’t an exception. Automating your AP ensures a smooth invoice processing workflow.
Plate IQ has you covered when you’re ready to step up your AP by stepping into the digital age.
Jacob Statler writes about the unique challenges of hospitality AP automation for Plate IQ.
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