senior community golf players carrying bags

Case Study

Facility: 18 Hole golf club with small clubhouse
Location: Resort area in the Southeastern United States
Ownership: Member owned
Focus: Growing revenues while trimming operating expenses
About: A small annual budget of $850,000, but a great public golf course with small food and beverage operation. A typical story after the market downturn – the club was originally built as part of a moderately priced housing development that had long since been sold out. This facility was losing money.

Challenges We Faced:

The challenge at this facility was to operate within the $850,000 budget, while delivering a product that the customer base appreciated and the club could be proud of. We were also challenged heavily to drive additional revenue. The fate of this locally developed community hung in the balance.

Solutions for Bringing this Senior Community Golf Value:  

Sometimes the most satisfying projects are not the big ones, but the ones that bring the biggest impact to local communities. This senior community golf marketing project turned around a country club and provided much needed service to a group of adults looking for great affordable golf.

Market Research

Rather than relying on educated guesses and opinions, we knew this project would require significant market research. We survey our customer base, gathered feedback, investigated our competitive set, and explored sources of underlying demand in the area. This research helped us identify key opportunities for growth as well as better positioning the club alongside nearby facilities.

The Benefits of Clustering

We were able to tie this facility to several others that we had in the area marketplace. Players at each facility gained access to all the others. We developed both a frequent players card and membership plan that included multiple facilities.

Most of these offerings focused on some senior golf lovers in the area. Through our research, we determined this population was highly under served. Not only that, the senior community golf market was expanding in coming years, proving incredible opportunity for future growth. Establishing an early foothold in this market proved to be the best move we could have made for this club.

Fixing Staffing Issues

Upon inspection, we were able to right-size the staffing model at this facility. There were several staff members who were overpaid relative to similar support in the market. We also downsized certain service offerings based on past performance and member feedback. Price was the primary concern for many players at this value-driven club – not extravagance.

For example, the halfway house was a big and longtime money loser. At the same time, member surveys revealed that the convenience of the clubhouse grill with its added offerings was preferable anyway. We added water stations and simple vending machines at the halfway house to trim staffing and golf operational costs while still contributing some value to the experience.

The Outcome Today

Repositioning can and does occur in many ways. Just a slight operational modification at this facility turned a long time loser into a respected winner. We found the right course maintenance team that was capable of maintaining good conditions with fewer team members.

The course has ultimately become the number one value-oriented facility in the area. Top-line revenues have grown by $200,000. The club continues to be strategic with multi facility memberships and marketing primarily to senior clientele. We’ve turned things around and the club now turns a $25,000 – $75,000 profit annually.

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Casey Bourque

Principal at KPI Golf Management
Casey is our marketing and business development guru. He's a published golf author and comes from a golf operations and marketing background. He owns a web development agency called Web Design Phoenix - pioneering programs like PGAGolfDay.com that has raised over $3 Million for PGA Sections and golf orgs nationwide. Fun Facts: Casey's Youtube channel has over 2 million minutes watched, he's also played on the PGA Tour, including the 2004 US Open at Shinnecock Hills.
Casey Bourque
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