Courses missing the online opportunity

Dean Watson takes a look at where a lot of clubs are falling behind when it comes to running a business.

It has been this way since golf was discovered.

You would arrive at the club, line up in person and when it was your turn, write your name down on next week’s time sheet in pencil! (gasp) In the past 10 years, golfers have discovered a different approach to entering their name on the time sheet – the online line, if you will.

Both old and young are getting online Courses missing the online opportunity

There will be no second opinion ladies and gentleman – the online time sheet, indeed the increasing online aspect of golf clubs is here to stay.

New technology, like a new 5-iron, takes some getting used to. A quick Google search of golf clubs in your local area rapidly reveals just how inadequate most clubs’ websites are at telling you what you want to know.

Most have a few pictures of the course, most have some information about the pro shop and most state clearly enough how to contact the club.

Where clubs are losing business and showing their youthful innocence online, is in their failure to advertise for the future of their club (ie. the junior program they offer, along with the availability of the clubhouse or function room for bookings, both highly profitable ventures in their own ways.)

There are several golf website systems that help clubs set up a smart looking website including Golf Computer Systems Australia, miclub Online, and Golf Software, but what general managers must realise is simply saying you have a website, is not enough.

A golf course is no longer just a golf course – it’s the clubhouse, the friendliness of staff, the quality of function space and the range of food.

If you don’t tell anyone about your wonderful facilities, your junior golf program and the course itself, they won’t stay long on your website and they certainly won’t bother spending their money at your club.

A good website speaks for itself. It’s easy to read, warm and inviting. A good website will save you a phone call, unless you’re a guest and you need to call up to book. Outstanding examples are Curlewis, Riversdale and Medway golf clubs to name a few.

Riversdale is the best example of a junior golf program explained. Similarly, Curlewis Golf Club has a simple, but effective junior golf aspect to their website.

If I lived in 1618 and had 11 children, I’d be sending them all to learn golf at one of those clubs – clubs that advertise what they offer juniors in an easy-to-understand format. Less stress for the father of 11 kids.

Money is not an excuse for an unprofessional online presence.

A Facebook page or a Twitter account is free to set up and most clubs don’t have either. If they do, it’s usually a member under the age of 25 that has set up the account as a joke.

Golf clubs of Australia, this is your chance to control how the general public perceive you. Profits are going begging because websites are too difficult to navigate, the focus is misguided or the information is sparse and in some cases, missing altogether.

You don’t have to be a genius or have a lot of money to create an online presence – although most golf clubs have the latter.

You just need a day or two to write up and work out a simple way of communicating the appealing parts of your golf club online.

If that still seems too complicated, get a 15-year-old to do it. If they wear glasses, better still.