Sunday, January 6, 2013

Breaking Paradigms is Good for Golf and Golfers

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are ready for some serious New Year's Resolutions around your golf game!

A friendly piece of advice...Make only one resolution this year.  Promise yourself that 2013 will be the year of having fun on the golf course.  Sounds so easy, but you and I both know, it's anything but, for masochists like many of us! ;)

Meanwhile for all those who are in the business of golf, I want 2013 to be the year you "think outside the box" when it comes to giving golfers what they want - affordable golf, when they want it and how they want it.

Sounds difficult, but it really isn't.  There are some very innovative thinkers in this business who are breaking golf's "must play 18 holes" paradigms and giving golfers different and more affordable ways to "consume" golf, how and when it is convenient for them. 

Ed Kageyama, PGA General Manager of Ka’anapali Resort on Maui is one club executive who's made it his mission to continually look for new ways to offer local and visiting golfers playing options that suit their budgets, their schedules and their lifestyles, without compromising the club's bottom line.  Here are just 3 of them...

While on vacation with family or friends, time is precious and often the biggest factor in deciding to play, or not to play, golf. If your significant other doesn't play, it's pretty difficult to say, "Hey honey, I'm off to play golf!  Find something to amuse yourself and I'll see you in about 5 or 6 hours."

Okay, it's not so difficult to say, but it's pretty difficult to live with the consequences.  So 2.5 years ago Ka'anapali Resort management created a program which allows guests to  play 18 holes of golf over 7 days. You can break up those holes any way you like - 3 one day, 4 the next...whatever suits your schedule. 

In 2009, Ka'anapali began a program whereby local and visiting golfers could walk and play holes 1 to 6 on either the Kai or Royal Course anytime after 4 PM.  For only $79/month golfers could theoretically play 180 holes of golf.

You do the math...180 holes is 10 rounds of golf.  At $79/month you're looking at less than $8 a round, or only 44 cents per hole!

Need less to say, FIT CLUB is very popular with locals who love to drop by the course after work.  In fact, it is such a great deal that the club is seeing golfers who left the game coming back because it's more than affordable and easy to fit into their schedules.

And for all you tourists, it's a wonderful way to work off those Mai Tais while you play the game you love in paradise.  Sweet!

When I was on Maui in November, I saw a couple of dozen golfers of all ages taking advantage of the hottest deal on the island every day.  Someday, one of them will be me!

Now here's a program that more clubs should do to maximize rounds played at their clubs.  At most golf clubs, there are off-season or off-peak times where the course isn't being played as much as managers and owners would like.  One might think that the obvious thing to do to bring in players would be to lower green fees during those times, right?  Wrong!

Once again Ed Kageyama took a more innovative approach to solving the problem.  Rather than discount tee times, Ka'anapali partnered with other resort businesses to offer a "PLUS" to a round of golf played during non-peak times.

For example, from 10 AM – noon during slower months, the resort offers guests an option of a "PLUS" if they play golf within those hours during the day, such as:
  • A $25 gift card for Roy's Ka'anapali restaurant
  • A massage appointment at the Hyatt Regency Maui or Westin Maui Resort and Spa
  • Two for one Luau tickets at Royal Lahaina
Everybody wins with GOLF PLUS.  Golfers enjoy faster rounds during quieter hours; spouses enjoy the extra perks; partner businesses get new customers and the club isn't losing money by discounting green fees.   The results...Rounds at Ka'anapali increased by 25 percent!

The National Golf Foundation announced last fall that rounds played in 2012 were on the rise, and it looks like 2013 is going to be more of the same for golf clubs and resorts in the US.

I just hope that this doesn't create complacency with golf course managers, thinking they can bank on promising industry trends to keep them in the black.

Instead, I hope they take a lesson from Ed and start to think outside of the tee box and look for innovative ways to give golfers what they want while growing revenues and profits for their clubs.

It's a new year full of promise with the bogies of the past behind us.  I wish you and your loved ones the very best in 2013, and as one of my favorite people in the whole world (my coach, Ginny Golding) said to me this Christmas...

May all your putts drop
And all your drives soar
May your chip shots be crisp
To lower your score!

Happy New Year everyone!



jelly andrews said...

Nice posting! This is really interesting. And even though I am not a golfer, I got some ideas from this post too. Thanks for sharing it.

Patricia Hannigan said...

Great post! Though some are loath to admit it cost/time constitutes the biggest barrier to golf and the continued lack of acceptance of anything other than an 18 hole round is often frustrating for time/cash strapped golfers. It's good to see there are those who are beginning to get it.

Gayle Moss said...

Hey Patricia,

Great to hear from you! I totally agree that more clubs need to pay attention to what is important to players.

Most still only care about what's important to themselves.

All the best to you in 2013!