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Strategic marketing for golf in tough times

Golfer-2by Michael Nicks

There seems to be a bit of confusion on whether the economy is improving or not in the media today. Most people are feeling the pinch in one way or another, including the golf course business. Recent statistics indicate there are more golf courses closing than opening.

There are two basic income options for most golf courses. (1) Charges for the number of holes played and (2) Charges for joining the golf course through a membership system. The average charge for 18 holes these days average $40, while golf memberships can run into the thousands. Most golfers are like everyone else these days, short on time to play and money, this is shrinking the net operating income of the golf course. Owners must develop a marketing strategy to have a chance, in this risky business climate.

The first step is to determine your target market. You must know which group of golfers, will use your golf course. By doing this, you are narrowing down the market to a specific group, a “niche”, a unique group of golfers that you have determined to be your target market.

This leads into the next step, market segmentation. This is done by finding the demographics in your area. This information can be found at your library, courthouse or other like sources. This information will give you the break down of the golfers in your area. Now you have the information you need to begin marketing your golf course to your “niche“.

Now that you know your target market you will need to reach them, and communicate all the unique things that you can offer your golf clientele. You can reach them in three different ways. First you will find that to stay competitive with other golf courses, you will have to convert to public play if you are strictly a membership only course. The other direct change to your course will be to reduce your yearly membership fees.

The second way to reach your golf “niche” is develop advertising that reaches people on line. On line advertising can be a website, social networking like Twitter, Face book, etc., email, and links. You can also use some of the on line search engines to advertise like Google. Google has one of the most sophisticated and effective advertising searches. Make sure you offer specials or coupons and state your reduced pricing to adjust to the new, slow growing economy. The social network Twitter has become a very popular way to reach new people and this means more golfers for your course. There are also lots of free sites to advertise on; just Google free ads and lots of options come up.

The third method for reaching your clientele is offline advertising. This can include brochures, business cards, postcards, radio, newspaper, and local TV advertising. Also develop some kind of logo and branding to make your course stand out. People just don't have the time to play as much golf compared to when things were better in the old economy. You must think and be creative in this new economy, to increase your customer base.



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