A new guide which shows how good design can make golf clubs more customer friendly has been produced by England Golf.
The Customer Focused Facility Guidance aims to help clubs and golf centres to match the design, character and appearance of their course and clubhouse to the needs of their members and visitors.
Abbie Lench, England Golf Head of Club Support commented: “This is so important. The look and feel of your club will directly affect customers and influence their decision to return – or not.
“The first step to designing a successful business is to understand what customers want. This will also help clubs tap into new markets to attract more players and members, become a hub for the local community and create better products and services.”
The guide has been produced with the support of Sport England and input from Golf Business International (GBI), a consultancy which is one of England Golf’s Preferred Partners and offers a wide range of knowledge and expertise across all areas of golf business including course architecture and facility management. A wide range of golf facilities have also contributed information.
It looks at ways to improve the playing and social environment both within existing facilities and as part of any new build project.
It steers clubs through the process of reviewing their facilities – both on and off the course – and comparing them with the local competition, identifying areas for improvement, looking at all the options and drawing up a statement of requirements.
The guide considers everything from signage on the site to the features of the clubhouse, including its appeal from the road or pathway, the welcome of the reception area and how this links with other areas such as the bar, the changing rooms and the professionals’ shop. Transport links and car parking are among the other areas for consideration.
It suggests possible solutions which range from simple steps to remove barriers or improve navigation around the site, to completely new facilities to attract a wider customer base, such as a coffee shop.
On the course it looks at ways to increase customer appeal and capacity such as variable tees positions for all abilities, programing to offer Speedgolf, Footgolf or play over short loops of holes, and the customer flow, both around the course and from the clubhouse to the course and back.
Howard Swan of Golf Business International commented: “I am delighted as Chairman of Golf Business International to have been able to contribute to and support this excellent publication.
“It will be greatly welcomed in the market place and gives essential help and guidance to clubs as to the way forward for the game’s essential, changing future. Our 30 GBI consultants are on hand to support England Golf through our partnership programme in helping to put the initiatives which the facilities guide explains so very well”.
Sport England’s Director of Property Charles Johnston added: “Sport England has supported England Golf to put customer’s needs at the heart of the new guidance, taking into account people’s habits and their preferences, their wider lives, needs and wishes.
“The guidance will help golf clubs design facilities with the best chance of retaining players and attracting new ones.”
The guide complements England Golf’s package on Understanding Your Market. This helps clubs to understand their customers and to attract and retain members by providing the golfing experience they want. It also offers the use of mapping tools to show where potential customers can be found.
Clubs should contact their England Golf regional manager or club support officer for more information or a copy of the guidance.
Case study: St Ives Golf Club, Huntingdon
The club has worked with Jonathan Barker from Golf Business International to improve the flow around the facility and give members and visitors a better experience.
Previously, arriving golfers were channelled around the side of the clubhouse and onto the course.
Now the main clubhouse doors have been opened up to all traffic, including bags and trolleys, taking golfers into a courtyard at the centre of the clubhouse.
There’s easy access to the pro shop and readily available ‘grab & go’ catering from a developing café-style area. This maximises the benefit of the clubhouse also being the halfway house.
Everyone arriving is made aware of news, offers and events as they come through Reception and this has proved a great aid to communication.
The club is about to launch a 9-hole FootGolf course on what was surplus land, used just once a year for overflow parking. Now it could provide additional income for the club.
General Manager Gordon MacLeod commented: “Our engagement with Jonathan and Golf Business International has caused us to look at what we currently have from a perspective that slight tinkering could make a significant difference.”
The club is also working with Jonathan on longer-term proposals.
England Golf www.englandgolf.org
Golf Business International http://www.golfbusinessinternational.com/