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Best Motivational Strategies for Golf Managers

Best Motivational Strategies for Golf Managers

One of the jobs of a golf club manager is to motivate employees. You want your team to be engaged and happy at work. Their performance and contributions will reflect their level of enthusiasm. And employees who have a positive attitude will provide better service to your customers. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to have a larger than life personality like Tony Robbins to motivate others. All you need is an understanding of how motivation works, and which strategies are most effective. Here’s everything you need to know to create a staff that shows up ready to do a great job.  

Types of Motivation   


If you’ve ever accomplished a goal due to an internal desire, you were using intrinsic motivation. Maybe you spent hours on the putting green to improve your handicap, or perhaps you got up early and headed to the gym to build your strength so you could hit the ball farther. This type of motivation comes from within, with behavior that is personally satisfying, driving you to work harder.  


The second type of motivation is extrinsic, and it’s driven by outside forces. In this case, you adopt a behavior or complete an activity to earn a reward or avoid something unpleasant. If you spend hours on the putting green and mornings in the gym to become a better golfer so you can win the tournament your course has with a rival club, your motivation is extrinsic. You don’t engage in the behavior because you find it personally rewarding; you do it to get a trophy. 

Which type works best?

While it seems like intrinsic is the best type of motivation, there are times when people will simply lack the drive to perform a task or demonstrate a behavior consistently. Extrinsic motivation can provide the push someone needs to accomplish the goal. For example, extrinsic motivation is what prompts most of us to show up for work. If you don’t, you risk getting fired, or you won’t collect a paycheck.

You might think your only tool for inspiring your team is to use extrinsic motivation, but you can use both types. Managers can tap into an employee’s intrinsic motivation by giving praise, but only if it’s sincere. Giving props to someone without cause can actually decrease their intrinsic motivation. As a manager, you need to make sure your team understands expectations. When they perform up to your standards, giving positive feedback can help them take pride in their work. 

You can also use extrinsic motivation to get someone to complete a difficult task they’re not interested in doing. In this case, offering a reward or prize can provide the incentive. You have to be careful with extrinsic rewards, too. Offering too many to people who are already intrinsically motivated can decrease their personal drive. The best time to use extrinsic motivation is when you need your team to take on a new responsibility, learn a new skill, or complete a challenging goal, such as hosting a three-day charity tournament. 

Motivational Strategies 

Set goals

Now that you know the difference, you’re probably wondering exactly how to use the two types. A good place to start is assisting employees in setting goals. Research from Gallup found that employees whose managers help them set goals are 3.6 times more likely to be engaged than those who are not. You can set goals in a variety of areas. For example, you can help your servers set goals on taking accurate orders. Your greens crew can have goals set around preparing for an outing. And your pro shop team can have goals on clothing sales. Use metrics to measure how a goal is to be accomplished and keep track of together to provide accountability.

Recognize milestones

In addition to goals, acknowledge the milestones your employees reach. Mini milestones help keep employees motivated daily. Take the goals you set and break them down into manageable steps. When your employee reaches one of those levels, recognize it with praise or a reward. Mini milestones can help keep an employee-focused, and they can alert you if a goal needs to be adjusted or if another type of motivation needs to be added.

Provide feedback

When an employee does a good job, it’s essential to provide feedback and praise. You also need to give some context. Instead of saying, “Great job,” be specific on what was great. For example, you can say, “Great job handling that large party that was seated in your section. I know we were busy today, but you treated the customers as if they were the only people in your section. You really have great organizational skills.” When you add context around praise, you make it easier for your employee to repeat. And if you have constructive feedback to give, use the same technique. Be sure to point out what the employee did right while coaching them on how to do better in the future.

Encourage independence & responsibility

One way to help employees feel happy at work is to give them the independence to make decisions on their own. A study from the University of Birmingham found that employees with higher levels of autonomy reported higher job satisfaction levels. Instead of micro-managing, give your team members a chance to solve their problems. If they do come to you for advice, first ask them for their thoughts. Employees want to feel valued and like they’re an essential part of your team. 

Follow through on promises 

Another way to keep employees motivated is to keep your word. If you go back on a promise you made, you hurt the trust you build, and that can undermine their motivation if they feel resentment. If you do need to make a change to something you said, explain why. If an employee understands the reason, you can circumvent any misunderstanding. 

Offer rewards      

Rewards can be a good motivator when they’re used correctly. People want to feel valued, and compensation can be a factor. If you can tie rewards to company goals, you can foster teamwork. For example, you could set a goal for the number of rounds of golf booked in a month or season. Every member of your team contributes to the atmosphere of your course. If you meet or exceed the goal, give staff members a bonus or a prize. If they know they’re being rewarded, they may work extra hard to accomplish the goal.

Promote a positive business culture

People come to a golf course to unwind and relax, which means your operation should be fun. Your employees should feel the same way. While they’re not there to unwind, you do want your culture to be a positive one. Ensure your facilities are in good condition; no one wants to work in a place that isn’t clean and neat. And pay attention to details and attitudes. If you have an employee who you recognize is toxic for your culture, coach them on expectations or let them go before they bring other employees down with them.

Offer transparency

Part of having a good culture is having open lines of communication between employees and management. Be transparent about your business goals and any changes that might be happening. During the pandemic, for example, it was important to keep employees up to date on procedure changes that impacted them. Even if it isn’t good news, employees will feel motivated and involved in your operations if they are confident about where they stand. 

Promote communication

Being transparent is essential, and you need to make it safe for employees to speak up. Ask your team for their feedback. If they know their input is valued, they’ll be more likely to come to you with concerns instead of complaining to coworkers. If you can’t provide them with the resolution they want, explain why. Employees want to know you listen. 


When you’re the manager, you’re a coach. To be effective, you must know your players. One employee may be motivated by praise alone, while another may get satisfaction when they feel empowered to make decisions. By creating a positive atmosphere where employees feel engaged and valued, you help provide motivation for everyone to thrive.

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