Is your golf course marketing strategy getting stale? Or are you finding it hard to get one off the ground? With a little bit of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, you can generate more interest and rounds at your golf course. Here’s a list of fresh golf course marketing ideas to help you generate more interest and create messaging that resonates with modern golfers.
The Golf Marketer's Playbook
Not sure what golf marketing should look like in the 21st century? Don't worry, we're here to clear up any confusion you might have.
1. Pick a signature hole
Consider how many courses have built their names on one specific hole—the 7th hole at Pebble Beach, the 16th at Cabot Cliffs, the 17th at Sawgrass, the 10th hole at Winged Foot. Now, these are some of the most famous holes in the world, but the point remains: these courses understand how these holes capture the spirit of their property’s design and use them to market their courses to the broader public.
If you’re looking for an easy branding win, pick a hole on your course you believe to be the most dramatic, memorable or special. This section of your course should be front and center in your marketing materials. This doesn’t mean you should disregard the rest of your course, but everything should revolve around your signature hole.
2. Advertise Your Course Layout With a Drone Video
Now that you’ve picked your signature hole, here is an amazing way to show it off! Drone flyover videos are the absolute best way to give anyone who visits your website a feel for what your course looks like, its size, and its environment.
You can even use your video to showcase each specific hole, so golfers can understand the layout. These videos make for excellent promotional pieces on your website and can help with selling the overall experience of your course and the value of your brand. Many golf courses include drone footage on their website homepage to attract a visitor’s attention as well as project an image of quality. Here’s an example of what we are talking about:
3. Take Quality Course Pictures
Taking beautiful pictures of your golf course is an essential part of your brand strategy. If you do not have beautiful visuals that highlight your facility’s best features, it’ll be difficult for you to attract new golfers—especially online. It’s important to remember that online shoppers don’t have the same sensory experience as people who come to your course.
We are well aware that capturing beautiful views yourself can be difficult and that hiring a professional photographer can be pricy. The good news is, smartphones are now equipped with amazing cameras that can get the job done when it comes to building a library of pictures that you can use for your website and social media pages.
1. Run a social media contest
Social media contests are an excellent strategy for generating interest in your golf course through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. There are many strategies you can use to run a social media contest, but no matter what you do make sure the contest encourages people to like, share and comment. Contests are an overlooked method of engaging new audiences while delighting existing customers. Best of all you will establish your brand on social media and generate more interest in your golf course. Executing a contest is easy, try one this year!
2. Re-market your customer list on Facebook
Did you know that you can upload your email list to Facebook and actively promote your golf course to your existing database of customer emails? This re-marketing strategy helps re-engage customers who already know your brand. These lists are the perfect target for promotions and blog posts. The key here is developing an effective email capture strategy. User-friendly tee sheet software, staff training, and online booking tools are known to help the process of email capture.
2. Leverage your pros on social media
Your team of pro golfers represents a treasure trove of useful golf-related information and tips. Encourage them to showcase this on social media and draw more attention to your operation. Creating influencer personas within your organization will generate excitement about your operation and demonstrate that your pros are the go-to source for great lessons and a better game. Encourage your pros to use all social platforms and consider having them write golf-related blog posts.
3. Update your review profiles
Do you actively monitor and curate your review profiles on Yelp, Google My Business, golf course marketplaces or The Yellow Pages? With about 90% of people consulting online reviews before visiting a business, you need to make sure you are putting your best foot forward:
- Thank any customers who have left a positive note
- For negative reviews, try to write a positive response that attempts to resolve the problem.
- Multiple reviews are not just a positive resource for consumers; they also provide valuable feedback for your business.
- This can help you understand what you’re doing well or where you need to improve.
4. Encourage customers to post about your golf course
When your golfers share how much fun they have at your operation with their followers it is powerful for encouraging others to come and play. There are many ways to encourage social shares:
- Instagram-friendly design
- Reminders to post with a specific hashtag to be featured on the golf course Instagram, or interactions with customers online can all encourage customers to post about your operation.
- Customer loyalty software can stimulate online posting by offering loyalty points to anyone who shares pictures and posts about your operation with their followers.
1. Send beautiful emails
Email marketing is a staple marketing channel in the golf industry. Nearly all of the golf courses we’ve encountered use email marketing in some form or another. Most courses, send newsletters or blast their customer databases with the occasional promotion. No matter what you send, you are guaranteed to see better engagement and conversions if you use nice-looking templates, clear copy, with a clear call-to-action. We recommend checking out these free email templates we developed to help operators send better emails.
2. Automate your email marketing
Newsletters can be useful, but non-targeted email blasts risk missing the mark. Some customers just aren’t as likely to respond to a promotional email as others are. To improve engagement golf courses need to start sending targeted campaigns that reach the end-user on a more personal level.
Automated email marketing helps to alleviate this problem by segmenting your email list and sending specific emails written for specific actions a customer can take. Fortunately, modern email marketing software coupled with the power of data-rich CRM software makes automating email campaigns easier than ever before. A few examples could be an email sent to a customer whose birthday is coming up, or an email sent to customers who haven’t played a round of golf in 90 days.
Online Advertising & Promotions
1. Embed a re-marketing pixel on your website
Have you ever visited a website and then noticed the website’s advertisements followed you around on the internet after leaving? That’s because a pixel on the site captured your data and put you on a re-marketing list. Pixel acts like a business partner for your online store. In short, it’s a small piece of code that can do great things for your sales. Embedding a pixel allows you to capture information and build a list of visitors to your website, so you can place advertisements around the web after they leave.
Use distribution partners
While distribution remains a slightly controversial topic within the industry, the reality is that it can put your golf course in front of a lot of people. The key is making sure you are getting a fair return for the tee times you will give up. Conducting this analysis is not difficult if you have the right tools for measuring ROI. Make sure to evaluate all the different distribution partners that exist, since many platforms exist today and have different methods of promoting you on their websites.
Website and App
1. Optimize your website
Everything you do online will ultimately drive visitors to your site. Once they get there what will they see? What is the goal when someone gets there? Ideally, you want visitors to book a round of golf or inquire about a new membership. Be ready for visitors with appealing images, well-considered copy, and a smart design that makes scheduling a round of golf as easy and straightforward as possible.
Studies consistently prove the impact good web design has on attracting, keeping, and converting customers. We know the idea of undertaking a website overhaul can be daunting — but not as daunting as keeping a website that’s older than some of your employees. Improving your website can be a boost to your bottom line. So while you might feel like you can’t afford to redesign your website or that it’s not important, think again!
2. Use an online booking widget
Many facilities still rely on phone bookings, in-person check-ins and cash payments, as a booking process. Of course, this workflow was created in a time where advanced technology didn’t exist. With modern advancements in booking systems, it is now possible to streamline your booking process and create a convenient golfing experience at your facility. Having your tee times online also means that you can reach a wider audience while lowering your operational costs as your pro shop staff won’t be overwhelmed with phone calls anymore.
Making it easy to book a round of golf means embedding a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate, clearly displays when tee times are available, and instills confidence in the user when entering personal details and payment information.
The booking tool should also feature a clear call to action that entices anyone who lands on your website to click and book a game. And ideally, this call to action should exist on every page of your website.
3. Start Blogging
Blogging has the dual benefit of being extremely good for your website’s rankings on Google search results and being an excellent conduit for communicating about your brand. There are many kinds of posts that golf courses can create such as golf course history, tips and tricks from the pros, event announcements, or updates about course happenings and tournament results. It’s important to be consistent with your content creation as well as to take the time to create quality content that people will actually want to read.
4. Create a Mobile App
Mobile applications are growing in popularity at many golf courses—it is currently one of the biggest trends in the industry. Hundreds of golf courses are using them to streamline online booking, shopping, score tracking, and social communities within their member and customer bases. They provide an elevated level of service and represent a direct marketing channel that sits in the pockets of your audience. Mobile apps give you the opportunity to market your course by sending a variety of push notifications directly to your golfers.
5. Host a podcast
Podcasts are growing in popularity across every industry. Your operation employs key people with deep insights about swing technique, strategy, and even horticulture. Setting up a podcast and hosting it on your website is dirt cheap, and people who visit your site are sure to be interested in the topics you discuss. Even the appearance of having high-value content like podcasts gives your audience the impression that you are a well-respected thought leader and a source of useful information.
6. Develop an eCommerce site
Many industries are implementing innovation to broaden their revenue streams, and golf is no different. Big box superstores aren’t the only ones who can offer information and the possibility to sell their products 24/7 via their website, small pro shops now have the possibility of easily doing so. Modern technology has made it possible for even the smallest pro shops to shift part of their operation online to reach a larger pool of golfers.
Before the global health crisis, our convenience-centric society was tipping the scales toward online shopping and since the arrival of the pandemic, this trend has accelerated. Understanding how to leverage technology to manage your inventory and grow your online footprint will be one of the most important skills golf operators are going to need to acquire in order to be successful in the new era of retail.
1. Organize a charity event
Charity events are important because they support important causes. There are always people that need help in your community—show them you care by raising money on their behalf and giving them the proceeds. Doing so will not only do good to the people around you, but it will also draw in new faces and engage your audience. Charity events offer a significant opportunity to increase the value of your brand and get the word about playing golf at your course.
2. Host an tournament for millennial and gen Z golfers
Driving engagement with young people and getting them interested in the game and your facility is an essential golf course marketing idea. As many clubs are aware, the pandemic led to a massive boom in golf’s popularity unseen since the days of Tiger’s rise to cultural icon.
More than that, though, highly popular golf YouTube stars, social media influencers and apparel companies are changing the face, look and feel of the game for younger people. In other words, golf is becoming cool and buzz-worthy again.
So what are course operators and clubs to do? Capitalize on the momentum! Consider hosting a millennial-friendly tournament, relax the rules and reach out the younger generation. Talk to young golfers to find out what excites them and build a tournament day that brings out this demographic.
3. Partner with local schools
To ensure the growth of the game long into the future, we need to introduce people to the game at a young age. The sooner a person is exposed to the game of golf, the more chances they have of making the game an integral part of their lifestyle. One way to give young people more chances to play is to partner with your local school’s physical education program to provide lessons and give kids a chance to try out the game.
Consider reaching out to your local school board and offer a fair price. Once the students have been to the course, you can win them and their families back by offering deals and discounts for rounds played with a parent. The idea here is to not only increase revenues in the short-term but also set yourself for the future. See why this strategy worked at Sun City Golf Course in Phoenix, AZ!
4. Host family-friendly specials and events
Many people associate their best memories of the game with those times spent playing with family. Golf is a game that bonds those who play it together, and family bonds are the strongest. For years, the game of golf has had a great deal of difficulty attracting new golfers to the game and a great way to counter this trend is by changing the negative perception many people have towards the game.
If you are able to give people the opportunity to create fond memories surrounding the game with their family, the more chances they have of one day becoming an avid golfer. Consider offering family discounts and encourage the entire family to get into the game by providing group lessons. You can also consider hosting a family day at your facility where only families can book tee times which will allow them to play the course stress-free without having the pressure of regular golfers playing at a much faster pace behind them.
5. Celebrate Women’s Golf Day
Women’s Golf Day happens every year in the first week of June where over 900 golf courses in 68 countries held events on their premises. Hosting an event shows the women in your community that you care about developing the participation of women in the sport.
Register to host an event and receive a listing on the Women’s Golf Day website, promotional materials, and training tools to host a successful event. Women in your area will be looking to play a round of golf on Women’s Golf Day this year so make sure your course is fully visible and ready to accommodate this special event.
6. Take advantage of seasonal holidays
Seasonal holidays are the perfect excuse to host a special event and generate extra revenue at your golf course. Do you have a plan for this year’s 4th of July? What about labor day? These holidays typically involve time off work which represents an opportunity to get people playing on your golf course. There are many ways to take advantage of the holidays and your offerings should be adapted to every holiday. For example, for Valentine’s day, you might want to offer tee time discounts for couples as well as creating a custom one-day menu with unique options that encapsulate the romance that’s in the air.
1. Implement a personalized customer loyalty program
Customer loyalty is critically important in the golf industry. Implementing a rewards points system gives customers many more incentives to spend and goes far beyond the paper punch cards of the past. Give customers a goal to work towards and the status of maintaining a certain balance. The problem with so many of these loyalty schemes is that they’re generic. Everyone gets the same offers, the same rewards, the same messaging.
While you could argue that this democratizes the program, it also means it’s rarely a factor when deciding where to shop. Customer expectations around personalization are high. But so are the potential rewards. If you can personalize the way you interact with each customer, then you can drive greater loyalty. This will give you greater insights into the customer which can further improve your personalization and further increase loyalty.
2. Reward your top spenders
Retaining valuable customers and generating as much revenue as possible from your top spenders is a proven strategy for boosting the bottom line. The 80/20 rule states that approximately 80 percent of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. However, identifying your VIPs isn’t always easy so we recommend introducing loyalty programs designed to reward your highest spenders.
Loyalty programs are particularly useful for this because they collect robust data and can help you identify exactly who your top spenders are and who could become a top spender if nurtured correctly. Customer loyalty programs are also one of the best ways to strengthen your relationship with your loyal customers and get them to visit the 19th Hole after every round.
1. Offer curbside pickup & delivery
To thrive in this new era of dining, clubs have to embrace new technology and shift their operation online to offer services such as takeout and delivery. Many golf course operators introduced curbside pickup and contactless delivery to accommodate social distancing. However, one of the major marketing challenges golf courses face is branding—people aren’t used to looking towards their local golf course to buy food.
As with any part of your business, your restaurant requires its own business planning. Golfers will know the restaurant exists because they’re coming to your course to play. However, you need to consider a marketing strategy to reach others in your community. That’s why it is essential to have a robust online presence composed of an online menu, online ordering and a high-quality photo gallery. Fortunately for you, through modern technology, it’s easier than ever to quickly shift online and have the same look and feel as any other restaurant in your area.
2. Refresh your menu options
Tastes and food trends are constantly evolving, golf clubhouses need to keep up with what guests are looking for in a dining experience. Constantly striving to stay up-to-date will set you apart from all of the other courses that only sell burgers and fries and give people one more reason to visit your operation.
In addition, as mentioned above, we are heading towards a more on-the-go business model for restaurants so you should have items that reflect this trend. Whether a person order’s ahead to eat after the 9th hole or once they are finished their round, your menu needs interesting options that will be easy to consume and delicious even without in-person dining.
Promotions & Sales
1. Use text message marketing
Text message marketing requires some strategic thinking. You can’t just blast anyone with a text. Instead, there has to be some context as to why you are sending them a message. One great example is sending text messages to people who are actively playing a round on the golf course—send them F&B specials and easily increase your revenues per round. If your software permits you to send text messages to players directly from the tee sheet, sending these promotions is very simple. Make sure any text message you send has clear and immediate value.
2. Sell business or corporate packages
Do you actively seek out and market to businesses that are looking to host a company event? Even if you are new to the game, golf is a fun sport to play in groups. With the right tournament format and amenities that everyone can enjoy, everyone from the office can have a fun afternoon at the golf course. This year, why not try developing a business package strategy and actively marketing your operation as a fun place for offices to spend some quality time.
3. Create a referral campaign
Referrals are known as one of the cheapest marketing strategies because you put your best salespeople in charge: your customers! Word of mouth is still considered the most influential method of generating new customers since humans have the intrinsic quality of trusting their friends and wanting to share experiences.
Instituting a referral program will help incentivize customers to spread the word about you. One strategy to implement a referral program is to use loyalty software that permits members to refer their friends through their customer profile. With these loyalty systems, you can set clear reward parameters that incentivize referrals by benefiting both the referrer and the referee.
1. Use smart promotions
In today’s business landscape, data is the engine that drives all good marketing efforts. If you’re going to be at all effective at growing your golf course, you need to back up your strategy with powerful insights that can only come from accurate information. The days of lazily slapping tee time promotions on a website, newsletter, email, or print ad are over.
Grasping what goes on in golfers’ minds involves analyzing their actions with powerful software. In-depth analysis and reporting tools let you accurately plan your marketing moves and measure their effectiveness. Modern technology offers the opportunity to understand exactly how well promotions are working—whether you got a good ROI and which customers and player types used each promotion.
2. Make use of data and business intelligence reporting
Data is crucial for informing your marketing decisions. You need to collect detailed data for each customer to be able to build a meaningful customer data profile. Once you can segment your customers based on data, you can understand their behaviour much better and determine what type of messaging is necessary to reach each group.
Business Intelligence reporting is useful for benchmarking the success of marketing initiatives. For example, if you are building marketing campaigns in an attempt to encourage more online bookings, your reporting tool will be able to show your spread between phone and online reservations before, during and after the campaign. This will allow you to determine whether your strategy is effective or if adjustments need to be made.
Feeling inspired by these golf course marketing ideas?
Beyond these ideas there are many, many ways to bring a fresh marketing angle to your golf operation. Putting effort into improving your strategy demonstrates the value of your brand to your customers and will leave them wanting to come back over and over again. That said, in addition to good strategy, well-timed campaigns and clear messaging, you need a technology partner that can help you execute.
Do you want to bring your golf course marketing ideas to the next level and increase revenue? Talk to one of our experts today to discover how Lightspeed Golf can help you stand out from your competition.