Create a Welcoming Environment to Find New Golfers
When I was seven, I came across a driver and some golf balls at a garage sale our neighbor was having across the street. They were both unusual and intriguing. Mesmerizing. The weirdest things I had even seen. Despite the driver being too big for me and not even knowing how the game was played, I didn’t put them down the entire day. Our neighbor ended up simply giving me those clubs and balls and that was that…I was a golfer for life.
For those who need to take a stroll down memory lane, golf was not very popular back in the day. It was not a mainstream sport, courses and practice areas were limited, equipment was inferior, participation was expensive and golf fashion was simply deplorable. There was essentially no outreach to attract new players, and to top it all off, golf is hard. Bottom line, it took a lot to get into golf.
Today, some of the same challenges face the sport and new players to the game. While golf is still a challenging game that requires a financial commitment, the number of course options have increased greatly, costs have come down, quality has gone up, advances in club technology make the game more enjoyable and we can all safely say golf clothes are pretty darn stylish.
While no one can make the game easier, as a golf club, our goal is to expose as many new players as we can to the game and allow them a variety of options to explore their interests. There is no greater or more popular brand in the game of golf than the PGA TOUR, so our efforts carry with them extra importance as the utmost ambassadors of the sport.
In our geographic market, TPC Las Vegas exposes new players to the game by participating in junior programs such as the PGA Junior League and Youth on Course. The PGA Junior League is a team-based activity which encourages camaraderie and a unique twist on golf, complete with matching uniforms to imitate other sports. Youth on Course is a newer program that allows for significantly reduced greens fees and practice facility usage at some of the best courses across the country.
In addition to participating in these nationwide efforts, TPC Las Vegas has its own junior programs which feature an annual Areawide Junior Clinic, new golfer orientation programs, reduced junior rates throughout the year, annual Summer Camps/Clinics and our own dedicated instructor (Matt Henderson) with an emphasis on new player development.
Probably one of the most successful efforts we have adopted to attract new golfers comes from an adjustment we made to our Annual Member benefits. Currently, any member at TPC Las Vegas can bring their children to play or practice after 3pm, any day of the year for free. This gives children an easy and cost-efficient introduction to the game by the greatest influencers in their lives, their parents.
Last but not least, let’s not forget that not all new golfers are juniors. The same wonderful member benefits provided for juniors, also carry benefit for spouses. Every day of the year, our members can bring out their spouses for only a cart fee after 3pm. This program is perfect for a spouse who is not quite sure they are committed to the game enough to pay a regular green fee or purchase a membership. In the comfortable afternoon environment, at a low cost, with a member of their family, they can gain the confidence and determine if golf is a game they wish to pursue.
These avenues seem to point us in the direction we need to go. A team effort. A community partnership. No one person or entity can do it alone. Friends and family matter. Courses need to work with golfers and the community to make it easy and attractive for new players to take up the game and from there, commit to a program or programs that keep(s) them in the game. Almost like an all year long garage sale.