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Golf Business – Entertain Or Die!

Last week, to prove a point to a client, I called my neighbor from my office. I said, “Allen, remember that great tournament we played in at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Manassas, Virginia? Tell my client about it.”

“OK,” he said. “It’s hard to know where to start since everything was so fantastic. The food was great, the entertainment was great!”

“Stop!” I yelled.” Tell him about the entertainment.”

“You remember,” he said.” That magician at the event… he was unbelievable! The best I have ever seen!”

He went on to describe some of his tricks in detail for another two or three minutes. Finally, I prompted him to talk about the course. “Best course I have ever played,” he said, casually.

Perhaps the most profound breakthrough I made in the karate business was the discovery that, unlike any of my competitors, I was not in the Karate business. Nor was I in the self-defense business, health club business or the more generic, service business. I was in the personal development business helping people “Maximize their potential physically and mentally.” That meant that our ads were different, our look and feel was different, and of course, our curriculum was difference. While 21 other schools in the city of Irvine, California, battled it out for the karate business, I was the only school competing for the personal development business by using karate as the delivery method!

Too many people in the golf industry have lost sight of the business they are actually in which for most clubs is the entertainment business. That’s right; the entertainment business NOT the service business and not the people business and not the golf business. Golf is the vehicle by which you entertain your members or guests. Having a good course, good conditions and a great staff are entry level in this game.

So how are you doing in the entertainment game?

How do you entertain your customers in the golf shop? Do you have a putting carpet set up for guests to try out a new putter right at the counter? How do you entertain them in the restaurant? Is there a theme like the one Haggin Oaks in Sacramento, California, uses where it has historical pictures and stories of the club under glass at each table to entertain you while you wait for your food?

In the bar? Do you have the latest in plasma screen TV’s with picture in picture technology so your sports addicts can watch Tiger Woods and the Yankees at the same time? Is Marshall “Mars” Manning coming out of the speakers of the stereo?

How do you entertain them on the course? Do you have attractive cart girls or an unusually friendly ranger who provide guests who lose a ball with another one? On the range? One range I know has an abandoned van in the middle of the range at about 180 yards. It looks like hell, but 40 people are aiming at it and the occasional squeal of delight and loud bang confirm its entertainment value. In the restrooms? In the restroom – sure why not? It could be as simple as pinning the Sports pages from today’s newspaper to the wall of the men’s room or a more sophisticated approach. At the Bomber Squadron Restaurant in West Palm Beach, Florida, visitors to the latrine there are entertained with piped-in speeches by Winston Churchill. It could be as simple as just having an unusually great restroom with a running waterscape on the wall or unusual faucets. It all counts.

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