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Add your facility to the ultimate destination for traveling golfers

Access to the leading source of golf course ratings and reviews by golfers, for golfers

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WHY GOLF BUSINESS SOLUTIONS?

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golf course partners worldwide.

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golfer reviews of 14,750 courses worldwide.

WHAT OUR PARTNERS ARE SAYING

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The Latest from The Index

Golf Advisor reviewer

Leveraging course reviews for better business

Aug 07, 2019

By Brandon Tucker, Managing Editor, GOLF Advisor

At GOLF Advisor, our editorial staff writes expert golf and travel content about courses all over the world. But many of our readers come to see what other golfers – not those in the business but just like them – have to say about a golf experience. It could be to help them plan their next local round or to aid in their next golf trip.

Our five-star ratings logic weights the most recent reviews in order to provide the most accurate reflection possible of the current experience. In 2019, we're on pace for a record year of course reviews from our community at GOLF Advisor. Since revealing the platform at the end of 2012, we have more than 30 courses that have over 1,000 reviews and more than 2,600 with over 100 reviews! These active courses have a leg up against their peers by providing authentic information on what the facility experience is like. Such a mass of reviews provides golfers with further confidence about whether the experience is right for their next round.

GOLF Advisor sets itself apart from other consumer review platforms because only golf courses are reviewed; you can't review a car or your dentist here. Also, the other general platforms only have one overall category, so, it's difficult to truly know how into golf the reviewer is. GOLF Advisor not only has overall category, but SIX subcategories that let the golfer rate everything from conditions to friendliness. And their profile shows how many reviews they've written, as well as the option for handicap and age information. Golfers can filter reviews by which players and reviewers are most like them. Useful!

Even the highest-rated courses on our platform receive negative reviews or comments from time-to-time. If what the review said rings true, comment on it using your official GOLF Advisor course account and let them know you are aware of their experience and working on it. It's also totally within your right and constructive to readers to point out anything in their review that is a misunderstanding, or statements that are factually inaccurate. It's possible that even if the reviewer is well meaning, they were provided with bad intel or were misled. By having your staff actively engage with customers about what they liked or didn’t like, you are sending a clear message that your facility is looking for any possible ways to improve.

It's not too late to join in. There are many tools in your arsenal to help encourage golfers to share their experience. Be sure to include a link to your course page in email and social communication. You can also add a ratings widget to your golf course website. Ask your GOLF Business Solutions rep for window decals and other signage. But face-to-face communication is also key! Your pro shop staff, greeters and outside service staff should all be asking for feedback on the experience.

If you have a GOLF Business Solutions booking engine, you can have your rep turn on post interaction emails to trigger a notification to golfers to write a review based on their last visit.

For courses in the north, be sure to take advantage of the last month of peak season to grow your review count, and for courses in the south, prime time is right around the corner! Don't let the sun set on your chance to receive more reviews!

To learn more about GOLF Advisor, CLICK HERE.


Nemadji Golf Club

Matching tech to your market

Aug 07, 2019

Years after Bobby Jones had retired and Jack Nicklaus was dominating pro golf, writers would ask Jones hypothetical questions about how he, in his prime, might have handled Nicklaus. “An athlete can only measure himself against those who are competing at the same time he’s competing,” Jones would reply, sagely.

It’s similar for competition on the business side of golf—you can only endeavor to succeed in the market where you’re located, serving the clientele that’s around you. Mark Carlson, a veteran course operator who oversees the 36-hole Nemadji Golf Club in Superior, Wisconsin, knows this well. Average income for golfers in Superior—and the considerably higher average income for people 15 minutes away in Duluth, Minnesota—are kept firmly in mind by Carlson as he sets his prices and policies.

“Annual household income on this side of the state line is just over $39,000, well below the national average,” Carlson says. “In Duluth it’s a few notches higher. I run 100 group outing events a year, and 60 percent of them come from Minnesota—I get good pricing on that business because I’m able to attract it from the wealthier market.”

Meanwhile, golfers on the Wisconsin side can only afford to be regulars at Nemadji if they’re paying a reasonably priced green fee for the area, so Carlson strategizes—and deploys technology—based on that reality. His particular style as a GOLF Business Solutions partner course is shrewdly arrived.

“My rep, Dan Bury, is focused on tee times that go unused and deliver zero value,” says Carlson. “I’m focused on the same thing. All the technology I get through GOLF Business Solutions helps me fill that sheet and get those golfers in the door. For me to price aggressively and blast out emails to my locals is pretty easy, because the price I’m starting from is already at the lower end.”

On his two 18-hole regulation courses, Carlson expects to log 50,000-plus rounds this year. He’s managed Nemadji an amazing 44 years, and over the past 15 seasons he’s leased the facility from the city of Superior; those lease payments have added $2.4 million to the city’s treasury—while around him, other government-owned courses have been draining municipal coffers. His promotional emails are loaded with exclamation points, always delivering on his core belief that “value is the whole deal” to his base clientele.

One recent email, with a value proposition that included a free beer with green fee, included a photo of an icy Coors can that stretched from the top of a computer screen to the bottom. Constructing promo emails so that all their information is current and consistent involves some technical tweaking that Carlson doesn’t have time to do. At that point, he calls on Bury to go behind the wall and make the necessary changes. “Dan is good enough to do it, which I certainly appreciate,” says Carlson. “But if he doesn’t have the time I’ll send it out anyway. My regulars only look at the big headlines.”

Carlson even has a (non-digital) marketing ploy offering golf at a green fee of zero. His target market is people within a certain driving distance who may never have heard of Nemadji and whose no-charge golf rounds go undetected by the regulars. “These out-of-town people pay their $14 cart fee, they buy something to eat and drink, and they might spend a little money in the shop,” says Carlson. “Why wouldn’t I want that money – which added up to $50,000 last year – when the alternative is to get nothing?”

There’s an old golf-business saying that applies here: People who are successful all do things differently, while people who fail all do things the same way. “Mark has a philosophy that aligns with the GOLF Business Solutions point of view on inventory yield,” says Bury. “That being said, he doesn’t dive into the details of the technology and services we can provide, so our team helps him out, where we can. He’s old-school but at the same time he’s very innovative, and we love working with the guy.”

Moral of the story: Know your market, be aggressive, bring in great technology then use as much of it as you need to use, to be successful.

To learn more about what GOLF Business Solutions can do for your facility, CLICK HERE.


Peak weeks and tee sheet adjustments

Managing your tee sheet for peak weeks

Aug 07, 2019

As the functionality wired into tee-time booking systems gets more sophisticated, resourceful course operators are always on the lookout for new ways to leverage it during special weeks on the calendar. Recently, we’ve seen courses make adjustments to their booking function based on predicted high demand during major championships, but similar strategies can be incorporated for a variety of nearby events – or even tournaments or activities you may host, yourself.

Ronnie Wright, Jr., the PGA Director of Golf at The Golf Club at Middle Bay in Oceanside, N.Y., used his GOLF Business Solutions online booking sophistication to exploit this year's PGA Championship at Bethpage State Park, a neighboring Long Island course.

“Knowing the PGA Championship would be down the road from us, we knew that a slew of out-of-towners would be coming here not only wanting to watch the tournament but also hoping to play some golf themselves and maybe entertain clients,” said Wright. “We asked Lindsey Wellenstein (Wright’s GOLF Business Solutions representative) to get with her team and make adjustments to our reservation settings.”

To begin with, the course changed its standard seven-day-in-advance policy so that times for PGA Championship week could be booked 90 days out. The Golf Club of Middle Bay was a member-only facility until five years ago, and its GOLF Advisor ratings are eye-catchingly high. Wright felt that, given the chance, golfers from far-off places would be eager to book his course. “We sold tee times to people from California, Canada, Japan and really all over,” says Wright. “We sold times we wouldn’t have sold, and we sold them at a premium.”

Wright captured his premium fee by having GOLF Business Solutions disable his dynamic-pricing tool for that one week. “We set things up so our normal triggered price drops got eliminated,” he explains. “That allowed us to enforce our weekend rack rate of $83, including cart, for the entire period.”

Similar strategizing helped the 36-hole Bayonet and Black Horse Golf in Seaside, Calif., make hay out of this year’s U.S. Open at nearby Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Pat Jones, the facility’s director of golf, worked far in advance of the U.S. Open with Charles Fralix III, his GOLF Business Solutions rep, on business strategy. The idea was to make the Bayonet and Black Horse inventory as attractive yet high-yielding as possible on GOLFNOW. Jones asked that all tee times for the two courses be sold in a package with cart, lunch, beverages and a souvenir logo hat included – there’s your attraction angle – easily justifying a basic $225-per-player fee.

Meanwhile, parts of the two tee sheets (one for each of the two 18-hole courses) were organized as shotgun blocks, while other parts stayed in normal sequential form. All of the packages were set up to get prepaid by the booking golfer. Where the sheet remained in its normal matrix, a dynamic-pricing tool was turned on, to set the fees according to demand. On two separate days there were times that sold for a peak price of $275.

“All the public-access courses in this area know and prepare when there’s something big coming up on the calendar,” says Jones. “Whether it was us, or Poppy Hills or Carmel Valley Ranch or whichever facility, we all had strategies to maximize revenue.”

One key adjustment along the way involved prepayment. “At first, we weren’t requiring up-front payment, but we tested it and found that nobody minded. We heard that same thing talking to other courses, so we flipped the switch to prepayment,” says Jones.

The approach that emerged from Jones’s brainstorm sessions with Fralix proved successful, to say the least.

“We didn’t 100 percent sell out,” Jones says, “but I’ve got our records from 2010 when the U.S. Open was also here at Pebble Beach, and revenues in 2019 were much higher. In 2010 they averaged about 450 rounds a day, and this year we averaged 400 a day, but back then the green fee was around $140 and this year we were selling at $225 all the way up to $275.”

Pasatiempo, the renowned Pacific Coast course with its Alister MacKenzie jewel of a layout, used an interesting strategy to parlay this year’s U.S. Open into business success. Poring over the records from 2010 and 2012, when there were U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach and the Olympic Club, respectively, general manager Scott Hoyt set his revenue goals based on total spend more than premium-priced green fees.

“In a 10-day window from Friday, June 7 to Monday the 17th we bumped our fee from $275 to $295, then at a certain point we moved it up to $310,” says Hoyt. “Still, that was a modest premium—one course actually doubled its rate—and as a result we had a steady flow of positive comments about our pricing.” Once the policy was set, Hoyt closed his office door and crafted a lengthy, highly detailed email that would go out to everyone who had booked for the 10-day period. It asked about walk versus ride, need for rental sets, need for caddies and forecaddies, dining plans, and other ancillary-spend categories. Golfers responded enthusiastically, eager to get all aspects of their visits to this bucket-list destination squared away.

“We begged and borrowed rental sets to cover the need,” says Hoyt. “We called in caddies from all over – even some of our members took loops. Our F&B operation maxed out on sales. On one hand, people were super-thankful we gave them the opportunity to reserve everything in advance – customer experience was through the roof. On the other hand, we made money like never before.”

Compared to June 2010, Pasatiempo eclipsed revenue from that entire month in only a four-day period this year. “And June of 2010,” adds Hoyt, “had been our biggest green-fee revenue month ever.”

Obviously, the two U.S. majors that move around may not be coming to your area anytime soon, but even lesser events like the U.S. Amateur or the two senior majors could potentially spike up some demand. The key is knowing how the best booking engines can accommodate those unique scenarios and using them to maximize your revenue and exposure when they occur.

To learn more about our tee time booking system, CLICK HERE.