A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the First Tee


Making a visit to a nearby golf course where a good friend is a member, I was struck by how we were treated compared to what passes as “customer service” at a lot of courses.

First, let me explain. My friend’s course is open to public play so it’s semi-private or is it semi-public…I never can figure out the difference. Secondly, I have played there before and always received the same welcome, one seemingly backed by, “Gee, we’re glad you’re here.” Outside of spending time with my friend, I guess that attitude exhibited by the personnel had never registered as the big reason why I liked the place.

The “funny thing” I realized as we drove to the first tee was how much that smiling welcome had shaped my opinion of the facility.

It is apparent, if operators are not working hard to train their people how to make customers feel good about their experience they miss out on a critical component to generate revenue. If customers have positive feelings about those interactions with employees it helps bring them back over and over again. It’s such a straightforward method to fortify a relationship some companies spend millions training their people.

Call it success by emotional attachment, i.e., getting customers to feel a bond both consciously and subconsciously.

Unfortunately the lesson is lost on many course operators.

Social media plays a big part in bonding customers to any “brand,” but a typical mistake golf operators make is sending email after email filled with discount offers. That may be important information but by sticking to just telling customers about reduced greens fees they aren’t setting themselves apart from all the noise generated by courses striving to attract players.

And besides after a while a discounted price eventually becomes the rack rate in the minds of customers.

Wouldn’t it be better to create differentiation by sending information customers are interested in such as equipment evaluations, swing tips or almost anything to be unique rather than, “Look at the deal I’ve got for you.”

Successful operators have a social media program to interact with customers—and potential customers—that sets themselves apart from the crowd and helps forge that vital emotional bond.

A bond I first realized existed on the way to the first tee.