Vikki Vanderpool is a PGA Professional and president of Approaching the Green, a golf consulting company in Murfreesboro, Tenn. She was the recipient of the 2009 PGA Junior Golf Leader Award. Below, Vanderpool shares her experiences about creating successful family and junior golf programs. There are currently more than 3,500 family programs to choose from nationwide on www.PlayGolfAmerica.com .
PGA Family Golf Month
July is PGA Family Golf Month. It’s time to get the entire family involved in this wonderful game of golf. By providing free opportunities to each family member, you will create more sales, more rounds of golf and future lesson income. And, it will be a blast for you, your staff and the families. Partner with local food places and area businesses to help promote your event, such as pizza shops, delis, the YMCA and local schools.
Family Golf Clinics
You must be creative at all times while working with kids in order to keep their interest. Keep in mind the parents and their level of ability. If the kids are involved, the parents will be happy. Start with a putting clinic, setting up different stations with a teaching aid. Have the junior show the parent how to use the putting aid. Take the time to lay out a fun 6-hole putting contest complete with trees, sand, rocks, leaves and other obstacles. Depending on the ages of the kids, do an alternate-shot format. As for prizes, hand out hats, golf balls, divot tools, ball markers or coupons. You can also set up the green with a big grid, placing a number in each quadrant (like the Big Break). Each player receives two chances to stop their ball on a number in the grid. The winner will be determined by the person that is closest to a total of 10. Playoffs are fun!
Set up a clinic on the range for a family group. It’s important to provide clubs for juniors and adults, since many participating may be trying golf for the first time. This is also a good time to review the clubs in your bag and also a great way to fit kids for clubs. Find a volunteer from the group. This will most likely get everyone interested. Change up the clinic to include several aspects of golf and use a volunteer from the group to keep everyone interested.
Take your family to the range to practice. Have a designated time for families and juniors to come practice once or twice during the month. Welcome each customer on the range and assist in giving out range balls, and talk to juniors and parents about other programs or clinics that are available at your facility. This can also be a good time to orientate new customers to your facility, show off a clubfitting system, demo clubs or even demonstrate a new video system. Everyone likes to be treated special and get something for free.
Take Your Daughter to the Course
More and more girls are playing golf today. Take advantage of this time to bring in new customers and benefit your regular customers. Call each member of a group prior to an event/lesson to see what they might need upon arrival. Make sure they know the facility dress code and offer to give them directions. Once they arrive, let the kids play free and give everyone a sleeve of balls of their choice along with a coupon to use on their next visit. In addition, give them a schedule of upcoming events and clinics, including a girls only clinic and play day.
July is a great time to have some fun with family play days. Parents and their children will have a great time. Have a Family Day twice a month, allowing the juniors to play free when accompanied by an adult. Change up for the formats - parents can be caddies, or the kids can caddie for their parents. Parents can also help keep score, while staff members are available for rule and etiquette questions. Don’t make it too hard or complicated, just make it fun! Play an alternate shot format so the juniors will be included. Use fun activities on each hole, like wearing a crazy hat when you tee off, or putting around different obstacles on the greens. Try a Parent-Child Team League. The juniors will have a chance to meet new play mates, along with the adults. If you are on a regulation golf course try to make a set of Family golf tees, or juniors tees including a specially designed scorecard with yardage. Hand out balloons and cookies when your families arrive or when they are finished with their activity.
PGA Professionals and facilities may have a difficult time raising memberships, rounds of golf, sales and lesson income. Getting the entire family involved with golf will help stimulate and promote all products that you and your facility offer. Get to know each family member personally – being able to address someone by their name is vital. Offer birthday discounts to the juniors and encourage them continue to play golf.
You never know when you will change the life of a child. And when you do, it will be the most rewarding experience of your life.