Tue Mar 29 2011The impact of golf on youth
By Grant Garrison
The new MYGolf youth program is now getting started and for many, the words Rip It, Roll It, Chip It, Fly It, Blast It, and Bend It will become part of your everyday language. The new program is impressive and gives facilities the resources they need to make a serious impact to the bottom line while growing the game nationally. Below are some golf tips to consider before teeing off.
To “Roll It” close, you must not underestimate the benefits of a successful youth program. A successful youth program can be a serious business promoting tool. It’s not as simple as it might seem, to make a significant impact to your facility you must have a clear objectives, a detailed business plan, and the people in place that can make it happen.
In 2002, I took over a facility in Los Angeles that had 10 juniors coming to a lesson once per week. One year later I had 200 students who paid $100.00 per month in tuition. The benefits of attracting this many children were enormous. In fact, it was the youth program that got the club back into a positive financial position. Sales permeated every department of the club including memberships sold and the facility had its best financial year in more that a decade. Years of trying every type of expensive advertising never got results like building a successful youth program.
To “Rip It” long and straight, you must have the right director with the right compensation plan. The management of a facility must choose someone that is serious about branding themselves as a youth golf instructor. Many youth programs today are taught by pro’s who are not congruent with their personal branding goals.
For years I convinced my teaching pro’s to assist me with my youth golf programs, I could never understand why they were reluctant and often not motivated or dependable. I finally realized that although I was giving them work, they were no longer seen as a serious golfers coach and teaching children was costing them something very valuable, their target market. I then decided to start training and certifying my own instructors who wanted to join my team. Although it took much of my time, it was well worth it as I was able to create a competent, dedicate, and reliable team.
A compensation plan should be created for the director of the youth program that creates a win/win situation for the facility. Your director will become motivated based on the rules the club creates. Therefore, a creative compensation plan must be offered that represents the needs of the facility.
Years ago my course decided they wanted more rounds played at the course so we simply created a compensation plan for the teaching staff that rewarded them financially when their students paid a green fee. It was amazing to watch the instructors create innovative ways to get their students playing more such as student tournament, leagues, and play with the pro days. It turned out to be very successful as green fee revenue went to an all time high as well as residual income from food and beverage and golf shop sales.
To “Chip It” close, you must have an attraction plan that continually feeds your youth program with new students. Your Grass Roots programs should not resemble your on course program in any way as the objective is much different. The emphasis should always be on fun and self expression.
Years ago I decided to start 7 school campus programs using the Almost Golf Ball which is a limited flight ball with all the same flight characteristics as a real ball, these balls are now available in Australia and they are a step above any other limited flight ball. I had children design courses around their school grounds as part of their art program and we competed in tournaments each week until they were hooked on golf. I then hosted a Youth Golf Day at my golf course which became an interactive golf party. Because of this carefully planned attraction program, I was able to register over half of these students into my Golf Academy. It worked so well that I could run this program anytime I wanted new students. Check out the product - www.almostgolf.com.au
To “Fly It” it long, you must have a retention plan. I have noticed that most youth golf program have a start and ending date but golf is unlike other sports as it doesn’t actually have a season, golf is played all year long. Consider the effects of a year long program because golf is not prohibited by weather. In fact, many youth golf programs in the US which are located in cold climates are running indoor programs to keep their students continually in training.
Years ago I realized that the most successful youth sports program never came to a stop, they were continual. For instance, Martial Arts had an average retention rate of 11 months and dance had 14 months. I realized that I had a 6 weeks retention rate because that’s all that I offered. I decided then to extend my youth golf program all year and build a program that would take my students from a beginner to a tour player. We backed up this thinking by offering a substantial discount for a 1 year program. The growth and fiscal impact was staggering.
To “Blast It” your youth director and team must possess business skills. Naturally, your youth golf director will be a great teacher and love children. However, marketing, selling, and management skills may not be strengths or something they even enjoy doing. Like any growing business, there are many details that create a successful program and getting bogged down with the business side can stall your growth.
In 2003, we took the Nike Junior Golf Program nationally and after 1 year we had a problem, our instructors could not handle the administration needed of running a large youth program, often appearing unorganized. Even after training, in what clear that the instructors were overwhelmed and it was taking them away from what they know best and what they loved to do, which was teaching golf. We then started hiring assistants differently looking for administration and business skill and it made all the difference.
To “Bend It” you must create magic. Ultimately, children must enter into the culture you have created; they must find identity, confidence, excitement, fun, and in the end a better life. We often become too serious about this game and forget the magic we felt when we got hooked.
In 2005, we stumbled upon a best practice that was truly amazing. Each instructor was to create a “Magic of the Game”. The definition was simply to tell a story about how you got started playing the game, why you liked golf and what it means to you now. The goal was to create an emotional response with an audience. What happened was truly amazing as over 400 instructors nationally were telling their stories. Not only did the learning centers have a record year but we had very little turn over as our teaching staff was finding new meaning and influence in their positions. We then started every conference call or meeting with someone sharing their Magic of the Game as a reminder of why we are the caretakers and ambassadors or this great game.