Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why Didn't We...

keep the golf course open? El Nino is certainly having an effect on our weather, as we begin the first days of winter. We officially closed our golf courses on November 18, taking advantage of some decent conditions to get the winterizing program done before the inevitable snowfall. Well, most of you know what happened: the temperature stayed mild, sometimes in the low double-digits. Of course, the phone started ringing.
But with the winterizing done, it wouldn't be wise to open the greens again. So we opened our "temporary holes" and saw a bit of action; however, most golfers want to putt on greens, and not just whack a ball around. Oh, well. If we had a better crystal ball - or, believed unconditionally in the 14-day trend from The Weather Network - then keeping the whole course open MIGHT have happened. Have a look at this current 14-day trend. Crazy!

Okay, So They're THAT Good!

Like most of you, once in a blue moon I do something on the golf course that makes love the game all over again. Like drain a putt farther than 20 feet from the hole. Or stick it to within a foot on a par 3. Or get a birdie! Have a look at these top shot from the Pros for 2015:
Top 10 PGA Tour Shots of the Year

Friday, October 16, 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Wake Up Call

When you're in a certain business for a long time, a sense of comfort - and an unfortunate habit of making quick assumptions - tends to set in.
In the golf business, when someone shows up at your golf course, we assume that they know about golf... otherwise why would they be here, right? Well, we recently had an event that promptly put us on our toes, and reminded us about the necessity of good, pro-active communication:
A local company decided to treat their staff to a day on the golf course. Great! We love that. We promote that, and would like to grow that market.
Our tournament co-ordinator had everything organized in terms of tee times, carts, dinner, etc. What we weren't ready for, was the number of people who had NEVER been on a golf course, had NO previous exposure to golf otherwise, and had absolutely NO IDEA about anything to do with golf.
"What hole, a hole? What's a tee? Do you rent golf balls? Can we share clubs?"
We finally got everybody sorted out, did our best with the customer to put golfers and new golfers together, and held our breath as we watched people hit a ball 3 yards at a time.
Lesson learned:

  1. If it's a group new to the golf course, ask pertinent questions to the person making the booking: are there any new or non-golfers in the event?
  2. If yes, can we suggest ways to make your event run more smoothly? (i.e., pick up the ball after a certain number of strokes, and proceed to putt)
  3. Can we offer a 30-minute clinic to the new golfers before they tee off, to help them with the rudiments of the golf swing?

    Other ideas came out of this experience, but the important thing is "nipping it in the bud"... and don't assume!

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Long or Short of Golf

An interesting article appeared in many of the TorStar newspapers' Business Sections on Saturday (May 16), with, in my opinion, a somewhat inaccurate headline:
There's no question, the prevailing sense among the very casual or very seasoned golfer is that golf is an "18-hole" game; and on some golf courses, it can be a 5-hour commitment (or more!) if you factor in some warm-up time, and a beverage afterwards. 
Over the last decade, as we have had to become more competitive to keep and grow our customer base, we've learned to think outside the box a bit. The "time factor" of golf has definitely been a major consideration in our marketing plans. For example, we began promoting a Fun Nine & Dine to groups and companies, as an alternative to the full-on 18 hole tournament. We've had some marginal success with this, and the groups that have bought into it love it: start at 4:00, play 9 holes, have dinner, and away you go!
We've even began replacing the word "Tournament" with "Event" or "Golf Day", since learning that many people new to the game, or non-golfers who wish to participate in a company golf event, are intimidated by the word "Tournament".
Back to the article: Golf does NOT have to take TOO MUCH time. The options are: hitting balls on a driving range, or practice putting; play a 9-hole round instead of 18 (for example, 9 holes at our Victoria Park Valley course can be walked in as little as 90 minutes or less!); or, a membership can offer great flexibility: if you don't want to play competitively, with a membership you can golf as little - or as much - as you want. Some of our members come out in the evening and play 4 holes.
The game of golf is certainly going through some changes, but I firmly believe there will always be room for the Purist, and if you ask around, always be options for those who are new to the game... or just enjoy getting out for a bit of fresh air!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Wake Up! Smell the Turf.

Wow, so much going on...
I just noticed my last post was LAST YEAR, so I thought it was time to get back on the bandwagon.
We opened both Victoria Park East and Valley this year on April 11, so an average opening date. Course conditions are, what I would term, as a "standard spring" - minimal winter damage, otherwise healthy turf. So that's good news.

We hired an experienced food manager this year to look after the food & beverage controls for both golf courses, as well as manage the Golfers Lounge at the East. Derek Wright comes to us with a solid restaurant and resort background. This is a big job, and takes a load off my plate. I will work closely with Derek, to ease him in to the vagaries of the golf business, and I will also concentrate more on marketing our golf courses.

Now a week-and-a-half into the season, I'm very pleased to see the number of returning members to the East and Valley, as well as the up-tick in Junior players at the Valley. Also, our FlexPass discount program, introduced last year, is a hot seller!

What else is new this year? We're considering using the larger golf hole (8-inch diameter), occasionally, on 9 holes at the Valley: this may help with speed of play for beginner golfers, as well as add a bit of fun to the game. Other golf courses in the region have tried this, comments have generally been positive. More on this later!

Another big plus is the number of returning staff. We're very proud of our teams here, and we continue to instill the importance of great customer service among our staff.

Comments from our customers are always welcome; it's great to hear positive comments, but I always understand that problems will come up and need to be addressed. Contact me any time:

Long-time members Ted and Randy practicing for Opening Day, April 11 2015