It’s been a difficult time for golf clubs. Thanks to poor weather and lower consumer spending on leisure and luxury services, many clubs have been driven out of business.
And to make matters worse, the ‘Golfer’ has become a nomadic creature – forsaking loyalty to their local club in favour of flitting from one course to another. It’s little wonder that income from membership fees has hit an all-time low.
But Cottrell Park in the Vale of Glamorgan has managed to buck the trend, by adopting the old adage “you have to adapt to survive”.
“We have always had loyal members, but like most clubs in Wales, our revenues had fallen,” admits Derek Smith, the Resort’s General Manager. “So we decided to make better use of our resources – firstly to attract and retain the golfing market, and secondly to reach new markets, like golfers’ families, businesses and the local community.”
After a quick round of market research, Smith and his team developed a new set of attractions, starting with two state-of-the-art golf simulators – the first of their kind in the UK.
“The simulators are more than all-weather courses,” Smith reveals. “They’re also used for tuition, so golfers can analyse their swing and take home a recording of their session”.
Golfers have responded well to the new simulators, along with other attractions like a new fishing lake and enhancements to the clubhouse. Since the beginning of the year, the club has welcomed 194 new members, with renewals up by 5% on 2010 – all at a time when other courses are seeing their numbers fall.
Local communities have also welcomed the changes, including an 8km nature trail where visitors can walk or jog – or if they prefer, hire a Segway and get around on two wheels. And corporate guests have seized the chance for a day out of the office, taking up team building challenges like raft building and kayaking.
Smith comments: “Innovation is key to staying ahead in the current economic climate, and our huge investment in the resort will benefit the business, our members and the community.”
If there’s a lesson to be learned from Cottrell Park, it’s all about diversity. By improving the golfing experience, they are making inroads with their core market, while appealing to whole new segments by adapting existing land and facilities.
Smith concludes: “You could say we’ve taken a sideways approach to marketing. It was a brand new concept for us, but it’s certainly paid off. I’m sure we’re going to see all kinds of other business adopting a similar model, and hopefully enjoying the kind of success it’s brought for us.”
Cottrell Park www.cottrellpark.com