Golf Course Winter Activities
The discussion around increasing yearly revenue for golf courses usually revolves around making the most of the golf season, when all the members or patrons are coming to the course to play. However, there are places like my home of Calgary where the golf season is particularly short as winter appears quick and lingers for longer than any other season. This leaves most golf courses with just a few months of good business each year. It’s feast or famine as you have to try and squeeze all the profitability out of those five months as possible to get the club through the winter. That being said, Golf Reimagined has a plethora of ideas that can be implemented to a course to increase the number and quality of winter offerings at the golf course. This essentially expands the business cycle to a year-round format.
One great way of adding value to the cold months is outdoor winter activities. I’m sure you know of a few golf courses that allow or encourage cross-country skiing during the cold months. This makes so much sense as an offering because one thing that doesn’t change when the snow comes is the land that is at each club’s disposal. While greens must be carefully monitored to ensure minimal traffic (due to their vulnerability in the cold), the rest of the grass is almost certain to return in the spring. Allowing patrons to use this form of exercise lends some incentive to being around the clubhouse, maybe they stop in for a bite or a hot coffee after the workout. This tactic can certainly be expanded with other winter activities. Fat tire biking is another trending activity, showing massive growth over the last few years and showing the same aptitude as cross-country skiing for use at a golf course. In my last article, we looked at Pineridge for its innovative 12-hole design, but now I would like to mention their innovation in our current topic as they provide winter activities such as cross-country and fat-tire biking. Primarily an RV golf resort, this makes total sense as the common customer is likely to be outdoorsy and active, even when the weather doesn’t permit golf. There are many other ways of contributing to this idea as well. Tobogganing is a classic to get kids out to the course, and Golf Reimagined has found that adding an outdoor skating rink to the club is not only cheap but fairly easy with the resources already found at a golf course. We found the best way to implement this would likely be on the driving range, as it provides a wide-open and flat piece of land, where the least important grass is. This brings us to the next winter offering ripe for application.
Another trend that has slowly been growing, especially across North America, is updated and heated driving ranges. We’ve discussed at length facilities like Big Shots and TopGolf, but there are ways to bring a similar experience to your members right at home. A prime example of this is the Calgary facility Golfuture YYC. This location provides heated driving bays that allow play all year round and boasts their own Golfuture technology, providing the ball tracing and mini-game aspects akin to the TopGolf experience. While the ability to play a simulated 18-holes with their technology is impressive, the focus here is on what they have done to accommodate winter golfing. A technique Golfuture YYC uses on their driving range is compressing the snow out on the range to allow for the ball picker to drive with ease over top and collect the balls almost as efficiently as in the summer. This means the only thing that really changes about going to the range in the winter is you might not be wearing your favorite golf shorts. Golfuture YYC not only provides a simulated golf experience on their range but has indoor golf simulators to further accommodate golfers, as well. There is a full article on the rise of popularity and sophisticated technology when it comes to indoor golf simulators on the Golf Reimagined website, so we won’t go into full detail here. However, it is another fantastic addition that many clubs are now promoting for the cold months.
Indoor simulators are, no doubt, a great way to spruce up the clubhouse and increase the incentive for visits in the winter, but there is a multitude of other offerings that would help drive success in this area. We mentioned promoting sledding/tobogganing as a winter activity for kids. One of the most popular winter activities for kids is video games. Incorporating a child-friendly system like the Nintendo Switch is a sure way to keep your little ones occupied for an extended period of time while you get some practice in at the simulator or simply have a meal with fellow members. Applying services like massage therapy, in tandem with the natural beauty of the view from the clubhouse, would provide a super relaxing afternoon for any patron who could then stay for a meal, amplifying the fiscal reward while increasing the quality of service in the clubhouse. Speaking of which, many might not be ready to hear that the traditional clubhouse pub-style menu is falling out of favor with golfers. In general, the dietary choices of the public are much more sophisticated than in the 90’s. Simply put, the greasy, boring burger and typical clubhouse sandwich won’t satisfy especially the new patrons to the golf course. Having an unenticing menu will do no favors when it comes to bringing people in for a bite in the winter. If they can’t golf, there needs to be another reason to draw them in. Providing increased healthy and hearty options to the menu is a great way to attract the new generation of golfers, pair that with an updated craft beer menu and some live music and you will have a winning combination.
As this is one of our most passionate topics for helping golf courses and facilities to retain the amount if interest golf has experienced from Covid-19, I have tried to provide a few extra examples and ideas than in a normal article. However, we obviously can’t give away all our secrets in one short form script. Hopefully, the takeaway from this article is that there are truly a large number of offerings, some simple and some more costly, that can and should be added to golf courses to increase their year-round revenue. Some additions are to be made to allow patrons to enjoy the beauty of the course, even if they can’t golf it. Other additions can be made to the clubhouse to provide a warm gathering spot for the community. Many of these ideas are being adopted at courses all around North America already, and this will continue to be a growing trend for those looking to increase the success of their golf course.