There was a time when golf operations were very successful within our own little bubble, but these days, it’s important more than ever to keep an eye on the world outside our gates.
When I was learning the business, golf was booming, but times have changed. Golf courses are closing, the time available for people to play is not what it was, and we face an uncertain economy.
Take a look within a 30-mile or 50-mile radius of your operation. What are restaurants charging? How much are they increasing their prices? What does it cost to go to a gym or a racquet facility and what percentage are those fees going up?
It’s all relative of course, but these are the things that members see every day. If I raise my dues three per cent and hockey fees for your members’ kids are going up five per cent, then I’m looking okay.
What are other golf courses in the area doing? Some might be raising their dues seven or eight per cent and if we’re raising ours three per cent, what are we or the other clubs doing wrong?
You do get compared. If two or three golf courses are doing a big clubhouse renovation, we’re going to be asked why we’re not. We don’t need to, or do we? Where does the extra money come from?
I don’t imagine our members care about a fancy clubhouse. They just want us to spend money on the golf course, be organized and friendly. Maybe, when our member survey comes back, a new clubhouse will be important to a group of people.
I won’t know until I get the surveys, but I think in this day and age, nobody wants to see a big increase in dues when you look outside the golf course at the three-year property tax plan in Calgary that will see it rise five per cent this year, five-and-a-half next year and five the following year.
These are the types of things that are on your members’/golfers’ radar, which makes them important for us in the golf industry.
Your members and golfers are well-informed. A lot are business people and realize how the economy and taxes are affecting their own businesses. It’s actually easier to explain a hike in dues to those people that someone on a fixed income.
Part of your due diligence in running your operation is understanding what’s going on outside of your gates.