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Establishing a Golf Academy: The Key to Player Retention

Establishing a Golf Academy: The Key to Player Retention

The culture of golf is changing. With six million new golfers coming to the game in recent years, the discussion around golfer-retention arises quite often among golf professionals and facility operators. The keys to retention have proven to be education and improving play, on-course opportunities and socialization and the golfer experience.

Player development programming is a vital aspect of any golf facility, as it motivates students to practice with a purpose and play more golf, which of course, leads to many revenue-generating scenarios.

With technology providing insight and feedback like we’ve never seen before, many facilities are transitioning from simply having a few pros who give lessons, to incorporating their own onsite golf academy. Here’s a guide for facilities and their professionals who are making the big move to establish their own golf academy.

The Golf Operator of the Future

Now is a better time than ever to bring your golf course to the next level.

Attend to the Business Side of Things First

When setting up any business, there are some steps to take that legitimize your entity as being official. You must adequately plan your business, which we get into below in regard to marketing and setting goals.

You also have to form a legal entity, which based on the country of origin, will differ, of course. Take care of the financial requirements, taxes, bank accounts, lines of credit, etc. Set up accounting practices and obtain a trusted accountant. Obtain all required permits, licenses and insurance. 

Develop a logo, website and mission statement by which your brand will be created. Establish a social media presence and develop a marketing campaign that communicates your mission and speaks to the clientele you seek to attract.

Attracting the Next Generation of Golfers

As stated, golf has welcomed a lot of new players in recent years. Ensuring these individuals develop in the game and have fun, causing them to want to play more, is vital to the game’s long-term success. 

There are many individuals who “give golf lessons”, but as in anything else, prospective students should read the fine print. Are they certified? What kind of training have they had? We’ll get into what it takes to become a Class A PGA Professional and be considered an expert in the game later. But for now, let’s just say there is definitely a process to follow that goes beyond simply putting some business cards on the counter and flyers on the wall.   

New golfers want to feel comfortable on the range and when paired with other golfers on the course. This is only accomplished through education and player development. Having an accredited golf academy, run by a PGA Director of Instruction and taught by a team of qualified professionals is key. 

This engagement that these golf students seek (and pay for) must meet their expectations, not only in the experience during the lesson, but in the long-term results. There are no carnival barkers here—today’s new generation of golf students must see improvement, or they’ll move on to something else.

Your golf academy must offer the latest and greatest in golf teaching and fitting technology, and must have a social media presence. After all, technology has changed the game in many ways—this is just one of them.

Satisfy these criteria and deliver on your promises, and you will see retention among the new generation of golfer. 

Developing a Team of Class A PGA Professionals

When shelling out the kind of money that golf instruction costs these days, prospective students will want to see results quickly. Hiring qualified and certified professional instructors is vital to achieving this. The PGAs of America and Canada have all the tools to properly train the next generation of teachers and coaches to drive student retention and create long-term golfers. 

Developing new golf professionals in the business of golf, which of course includes teaching, is what will bring the game forward across North America. With associate programs that offer certification in participating universities, as well as on an independent self-study basis, individuals have options that best suit their personal situation.

Marketing your Golf Academy 

With the infrastructure of your golf academy in place, it’s time to market and promote the business to start and grow your student roster. Determine the demographics and desires of your clientele, and put programming in place that satisfies those needs. 

Programs for beginners are a must, both group and individual. Clinics geared towards women and seniors are important, as well. Junior programming is absolutely vital, of course. These multiple demographics are the future of the game, and attracting them to your golf academy is an important step. 

Develop your website and social media footprint. Utilize the facility’s website, if possible. Streamline your email communication to focus upon the demographics mentioned here. Once you have a full calendar of programming and special events, make it easy to discover this information and easier to register for participation. 

Speak out in the community, at Chamber of Commerce events and schools, to share your mission and the goals for your golf academy. Offer free clinics and special events to gather small groups and to further promote your offerings in more detail. 

Golfer Retention and Long-Term Business Goals

Once you secure your first few students and start seeing your lesson calendar fill up, word-of-mouth promotion will become another effective source of growth. Developing the skills of your students is key to your academy’s success. Delivering results while ensuring your students have a fun and memorable experience that they’ll want to have again and again is how you’ll build your student base.

As your business grows, so too should the variety of classes and programs that are offered. Consider the various groups to cater to:

  • Women
  • Beginners
  • Seniors
  • Juniors
  • Competitive juniors
  • Families
  • Low-handicap players
  • Schools
  • Corporate
  • Veterans
  • Other special groups

The more diverse your menu of services, the more people you’ll have coming through your doors. With group instruction costing less per individual and generating more overall revenue than private ones, you’ll want to promote your clinics, camps and golf schools. In addition, these groups become feeder systems to your private instruction, where you can charge considerably more per hour than you will for groups. 

Do Your Research on Technology

Golf is becoming more and more driven by the innovation of TrackMan, Foresight Sports, FlightScope, SAM PuttLab, Swing Catalyst, and so many more systems. With launch monitors and simulators that entertain as much as they teach and devices that measure movement, balance and mobility, the next generation of golfers expects technology in their instruction experience.

Golf Lesson Technology

Talk to other professionals and meet with representatives from the leading golf tech companies. Determine your clientele, their needs, your budget and your business goals, and implement technology into your business. It’s okay to start slowly and build your arsenal as your revenues allow. 

Determine the best way to communicate with students. You can use special coaching apps like CoachNow, or simple texts and emails—the important thing is to have an easy way to reach them. This is all part of providing an experience that goes beyond simply hitting balls on target at the range.

Learn the products through education and certifications, and demonstrate your expertise. With a knowledge of the golf swing that you learned when getting PGA-certified and your understanding of golf technology, combined with your personable and welcoming personality, you will have all the tools to educate golfers of all demographics, ages and levels of experience.

Setting Your Golf Course Up For Long-Term Success

People appreciate structure—especially when they are committing a great deal of time and money towards an endeavour. Creating a golf academy buoys your golf instruction efforts beyond the one-off lessons to be more relational than just business. Putting a structure in place that serves the changing needs of a diverse clientele prepares you for long-term growth. 

Teaching people to play better golf will aid in their retention in the game. Develop your custom fitting services to ensure your students are playing properly-fit equipment, and foster relationships with green grass facilities to take your instruction on the course. All of these factors contribute to the growth of the game and your golf academy. 

Leveraging powerful technology both on the driving range and in the clubhouse is the best way to future-proof your golf course. If you’re looking to modernize your facility and get ready for the new era of golf, look no further—talk to one of our experts today to find out how Lightspeed Golf can help.

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More of this topic: Management & Operations