Golf club customer experience – It’s not a mystery

By: Simon Wordsworth - CEO, 59Club May 27, 2019

59 is the ultimate score in golf, the holy grail if you like, something that most of us can only ever dream of achieving – that’s what 59club is about, it’s striving to achieve the ultimate.

My aim when I started 59club was to provide the complete performance management tools to advance sales and service levels.

A recent study showed that nearly 90% of customers are dissatisfied with the levels of service they receive in the Golf & Leisure industries.

Further statistics indicate that most of these customers would gladly pay to play or join another golf/leisure club that provided better levels of customer service, even if the facilities were not as good. 

Customer service has always been about exceeding customers’ expectations so that the experience far outweighs any associated costs.

It’s not a new philosophy, but it is something that many managers still struggle with. Consistency is one of the hardest elements to maintain in the service environment, as is keeping ahead of the competition.

It’s impossible to know how good or bad we truly are without analysis from our biggest critiques – our paying customers, and in this instance Mystery Shopper Audits and Customer Satisfaction Surveys play a huge role in gleaning the critical data around the industry’s sales etiquette and customer service offering.

59club clients have the unique advantage of being able to make like-for-like benchmarking comparisons against the industry average, the best performers and their chosen competitors – that’s powerful information that will help to shape the customer journey and drive sales, service, enjoyment and participation levels within the game we all love.

Mark Reed, Director of 59club, answered a few questions about how good service can be achieved:

What does ‘good’ service actually look like?

“Good service is delivered by staff who predict customer expectations and react accordingly, ensuring they work to advance the customer journey and exceed aspirations. Service can’t be left to chance, people need process, motivation, and reward if we expect them to consistently deliver”.

Why introduce mystery shopper audits?

“Insiders are often too close to their operation to identify flaws. Strengths are rarely celebrated, and the club continues to deliver their interpretation of ‘good’ with nothing to measure this against, or perhaps to aspire to.

“Our independent mystery shopper audits allow managers to view their club through the eyes of their customers, enabling them to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses against industry-leading best practice, whilst the ability to make service comparisons – on a global scale, delivers the motivation to set targets and achieve higher service standards that intern elevates sales performance”.

Whatever type of club, be it a private member’s club or a resort, 59club has engineered mystery shopping audits that measure your:

  • Golf Visitor Experience,
  • Group Golf Day Enquiry Call,
  • Golf Membership Sales Enquiry (Call & Tour Appointment),
  • Leisure Membership Sales Enquiry (Call & Tour Appointment)
  • and also a Spa Day Guest Experience.

Additional Audits also available: Retail Enquiry, Custom Fit Appointment, Stay & Play Golf, Security Breach, Fine Dining, Conference & Events & Beauty Treatments.

59club’s mystery shopping audits allow you to measure the entire customer journey across golf, leisure, spa & hospitality.

Empowering managers to understand business trends, monitor performance, and exceed customers’ evolving expectations.

Emirates majlis-7th-59Club-golf club customer experience
What do you stand to gain from delivering customer satisfaction surveys?

It costs 5-6 times more to recruit a new customer than it does to retain an existing one! Any business needs to know what its customers think, what they want and what their future intentions are, the golf & leisure industry is no different.

Some clubs may conduct a ‘one-off annual survey’ to their members but don’t follow this up, whilst others only conduct a ‘member exit survey’ which is way too late. 

The links in the middle that measure member integration and customer satisfaction are the factors that see successful clubs thrive.

It’s not just about pleasing members, your visitors and guests’ pound is equally as important and the reason 59club has created flexible survey templates that talk to your corporate and society organizers, green fee visitors, retail customers as well as the beauty, spa and leisure users for the resort-style clubs.

Satisfactions surveys are used to breed loyalty, by giving members, guests and visitors a constructive channel to voice their opinions based on their encounters.

Clubs who adopt these simple strategies see better member retention rates and more repeat visitors than those who fail to ask; as the perception is that they don’t care or value their customers’ opinions!

Service can’t be left to chance; it needs to be managed.

There seems to be some misunderstanding around customer service in golf clubs; customer service is about people being themselves, not artificial.

Golf club employees need to interact with other staff and members, and most importantly, enjoy their work. The managers who seek feedback from customers and measure experience in order to advance are those that will be successful in the long run. 

Some of the world’s most prestigious clubs have very quickly established themselves as award-winning customer service providers, and credit 59club for the service they provide – and it’s not just big name, big budget venues that benefit from delivering a great service.

There’s no quick win.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys Exposed:

The following statistics have been taken from member & guest surveys, as delivered by 59club affiliate venues:

59Club Satisfaction Surveys-2-page-golf club customer experience
Mystery Shopping exposed:

The following insights/statistics are derived from trial audits requested by venues whose staff were not exposed to 59club’s test criteria and had not received any related training – you can see from this the huge opportunities to advance:

When a prospect calls your club to enquire about membership:

You fail to ‘sell’ the club on 62% of occasions, neglecting to promote your club’s USP’s – those things that really make you ‘stand out’ from the competition.

You fail to promote the idea of attending a show round appointment at the club on 52% of occasions.

Worst still, you fail to request a name & telephone number 50% of the time.

When a prospect arrives at the club interested in membership:
  • You fail to understand their main ‘membership requirements’ 60% of the time.
  • You fail to relate the club offering to their ‘requirements’ 73% of the time.
  • You fail to “ask for the sale” on 91% of occasions.
  • Worst still, only 6% actually pick the phone up to ‘chase the sale’
When it comes to group golf enquiries and visiting golfers:

You only send their golf society quote 20% of the time, and only follow up the inquiry with a call on 4% of occasions.

When it comes to upselling, the message is tragic; only 11% attempt to upsell additional items in the pro shop, and you fail to upsell hire items 87% of the time.

Only 17% promote drinks & snacks, plus bar staff fails to upsell additional food & drink 72% of the time.

Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club West Course 16th Green 59Club golf club customer experience

Service Excellence at its BEST

The best performers are rewarded at 59club’s Service ‘Excellence’ Awards Ceremony annually. This year, the 9th annual awards was hosted on 13th March at St Andrews, The Home of Golf.

A day which started with a golf tournament on the Jubilee and iconic Old Course, ended in a celebratory awards ceremony at The Old Course Hotel, within the Hall of Champions.

The awards, which recognised the leading golf venues that consistently achieve ‘service excellence’ across all areas of their businesses – sales, service, operations, retail, golf course, food & beverage and management – are determined by scores collected from 59club’s independent visitor panel who evaluate the experience presented to both visiting golfers and prospective members, all in accordance with 59club’s industry-leading, non-subjective benchmarking criteria. 

To ensure venues of all sizes are recognized for their outstanding levels of achievement, 59club introduced two categories for selected individual and team awards, thus segmenting clubs who charge an average green fee of either above or below £75

This ensures clubs of all sizes and budgets have the chance to receive the credit they deserve, based on the market segment they have chosen to compete in.

A few award highlights can be seen below:

  • The Ultimate Golf Resort​: The Belfry Hotel & Resort
  • The Ultimate Members’ Club​: Emirates Golf Club
  • Golf Group of the Year 2018​: Dubai Golf
  • Overseas Golf Manager​ of the Year 2018​: Stephen Hubner (Dubai Creek)
  • UK Golf Manager of the Year 2018 (over £75 green fee category): Brad Gould (The Grove)
  • UK Golf Manager of the Year 2018 (under £75 green fee category) ​: Chris Reeve (The Belfry – PGA National)
  • My59 Ultimate Service Excellence 2018​:  Macdonald Hotels & Resorts​, Celtic Manor Resort
  • Gold Flag Resort 2019​: Celtic Manor Resort, Forest of Arden, Foxhills, Gleneagles, Monte Rei, Rockliffe Hall, Son Muntaner, The Belfry Hotel & Resort, The Dukes – St Andrews, The Grove, Yas Links
  • Gold Flag Members Club 2019​: Abu Dhabi GC, Dubai Creek, Emirates GC, Roehampton Club, Royal GC Bahrain, Saadiyat Beach GC, Stoke Park, Trump International Dubai

I, (Simon Wordsworth) CEO of 59club said during the evening of the awards:

St Andrews Old Course Hotel provided an exciting and memorable evening celebrating our 9th Annual Service Excellence Awards. The winners have all showcased the very best client experiences possible, a trait that will consistently see them advance standards across the industry and ensure they stay at the forefront of the golf and hospitality industry.
My team at 59club has consistently pushed the boundaries with customer service standards and thanks to our proven benchmarking tools and training support, the success stories amongst our client base continue to grow.
I’d like to congratulate all of our winners, nominees, and venues we work with, who continue to dedicate themselves to delivering the best experiences possible for their members and guests.

Club Golf Membership Retention exposed:

Strong retention rates are achieved when members are afforded a ‘sense of belonging at their golf club, rather than paying to use the facilities’.

59club industry statistics taken from new member integration surveys highlight that

  • during their initial term golf members rated their sense of belonging at 75%,
  • whereas on relinquishing their membership, the industry leavers statistic around sense of belonging currently sits at just 55%,
  • with 85% of these members not using the club as often as they would have liked and
  • having rated the value for money of their membership at just 58%.

Performance management tools have been developed to measure the entire member lifecycle from member sales, new member integration, member retention, life as a member, right through to a leavers survey – powerful information that focused managers rely on to advance.

What the future holds for the golf leisure & hospitality industry

59club’s development over the last twelve months has been very exciting. We have continued to develop the range of industry-leading products and as our footprint in the UK, Europe, and the UAE takes hold in new territories in America and Asia.

We can all look forward to witnessing a boost in customer satisfaction, revenues, and profits more aggressively than ever before as we continue to drive sales & service levels globally.

For more information visit and contact your regional 59club manager, who can discuss your needs and arrange a trial today.