How can public golf courses succeed in 2022 & beyond?

By: August 8, 2022

I thought it might be useful for you to learn about the everyday challenges of an American public golf course – Maple Lane Golf Club – and what solutions he found for them.

You can read my interview with Chad Byron (General Manager, Maple Lane Golf Club) in the following.

What are the biggest business challenges of public golf courses in 2022 and beyond?

Costs are rising. Not only out fixed costs like fertilizer, equipment, merchandise, and F&B but most importantly, the cost of quality labor. Frankly, it’s become harder to retain loyal talent that wants to spend a good portion of their short Michigan summer working at a golf course than it used to be.

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While it’s true that most public golf courses have benefited from an increase in revenue due to the Covid-boom, courses like Maple Lane Golf Club have also reinvested those dollars into things like new equipment and other outstanding capital projects like fixing drainage and irrigation issues. While revenue is up, running a golf course has become increasingly expensive.

As a general manager, my job is to forecast the future and anticipate what will go wrong so that I can stop it before it does. No doubt, in the coming years, the biggest challenge facing public golf courses will be how to grow revenue streams that keep up with our growing costs in the post-COVID boom golf world.

What do you do to increase your revenue per customer?

One of the reasons we installed Club Caddie was because of how rich the data suite is. Because all golf services, food and beverage, and retail sales are tracked within a single app, I can quickly filter through my customers and see where there are opportunities to upsell.

As just one example, I can quickly see that Mr. Smith spends $1000 in pro shop sales, $800 on beer, and $1,400 on golf services when I check him in.

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He’s somebody I want to make sure I retain as a customer, so we’ll put flags on his account, prompting our staff to ask him if he like his favorite ball or a six-pack of his favorite beer at the register.

We also are accepting golf league payments online, saving credit cards to customer accounts for real-time charging, and we’re even exploring mobile food and beverage pickup orders.

In my experience, customers spend more money when you make it easier for them to spend money. Club Caddie’s technology does just that – it provides more opportunities for our operation to generate revenue from each customer.

How do you want to maximize green fee play, membership, F&B, and pro-shop sales?

It starts off with training our staff the right way. They know how to use our system to see which customers are frequent visitors or which ones are healthy spenders.

They’re trained how to upsell to their preferences, and they know to make sure they go out of their way, even if they’re busy, to go above and beyond for them.

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With respect to F&B and pro-shop sales, Club Caddie provides us with extensive reporting data that clearly shows us what is selling, what isn’t selling, our margins, and more.

When you understand the data you’re looking at, you start to see opportunities to increase sales and margins.

I consider this data when making purchasing decisions. We also use Club Caddie’s marketing and promotion tools to get more eyeballs on our specials and events.

What made you choose Club Caddie?

Jason and his team have a great reputation in the industry with golf course operators that I respect. When I evaluated all of the technology solutions, they checked the boxes that some of the other systems could not. I also love the updates.

The software is good, and every month it gets better and better. I haven’t seen that before with other providers.

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What is your favorite feature of Club Caddie?

My favorite feature of Club Caddie is the ease at which you can find different items and change screens between the tee sheet and point of sale.  Our public golf course is unique.

We run 54 holes out of one 400 square ft pro shop and when you have that many holes in such a small space, you need to adapt on the fly to how people want levels of service you need to move people in and out quickly. It’s a complex operation. 

We can turn 12 paying golfers out the door every 7 minutes, and it makes for a hectic pace unlike any other golf course around. 

Club Caddie offered the best opportunity to take care of people fast and without compromising the service they have grown accustomed to from our three courses.

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This article is brought to you by Club Caddie.