Community Golf Fan,
The pandemic has certainly helped reignite public interest in golf! With all the buzz, it’s becoming more and more clear just how important municipal courses are to the game of golf. But what are you doing to capitalize on this momentum??? Even with the uptick in rounds, the competition within the golf market to attract these golfers is greater than ever. The most successful municipal courses – and the one’s making the headlines – all have one thing in common: they all have a story to tell!
Okay, that’s great and all… but what story can my course share?
Not every municipal course can boast a noteworthy history or a championship pedigree, yet it’s important to remember every course has a PURPOSE! You have a role in your community and have been a part of the story of the thousands of golfers that have played your course. Do your research, talk to your users, and find what makes your course authentic. Then, just lean into this role and create a conversation piece your community – and the media – can grab onto!
Writing Your Story
From the headlines the industry has seen so far, there are three major trends...
1. Showcase Your History – historic designs have made a huge comeback in the golf market, and many of our municipal courses have a legacy they don’t even realize! Whether it’s ties to a famous architect, a lost tournament of legend, or a moment that defined your community’s history, if your course was designed before the 1950s, there’s a good chance that a story is sitting somewhere in the archives.
2. Engage the Community – though most courses are seen as valuable assets to their communities, many people aside from golfers will never set foot on your property. But some of muni golf’s biggest headlines have come from courses who have changed that notion! Hiking trails, outdoor event space, multi-use areas, etc. are all experiences that introduce people to your facility, help them understand your course is open to everyone, and build ever-important public support!
3. Change the Narrative – for courses without a decorated history or space for expanded community amenities, the ones making the headlines have been those willing to completely change the narrative around their golf experience. It can be risky, but with proper research and guidance can lead to some of the most talked about results. Full-scale renovations, alternative golf opportunities, and innovative user experiences have all helped once failing courses to stand out above the crowd!
The biggest tip for any municipal operator looking to take the next step is to know you don’t have to go it alone! Some of the best headlines in recent years have been collaborative efforts between courses and their local communities. Above all, be sure to partner with local business leaders, golf management experts, and a golf architect to develop the storyline and position yourselves to bring it to the finish line!
Once you have the right story – promote it, get feedback, generate interest, and get people involved! You’d be surprised how many people will rally behind the right story, and including them early on is the best way to generate project support.
If done properly, the excitement will grow organically, and people will want to be a part of the story. Once this wave occurs, the media will be there to bring the initiative to wider audience and generate the traction needed to gain local approval.
What you need to know:
• Despite recent golf interest, municipal operators still need to prepare for the future
• Municipal courses today are making a name for themselves by having a story!
• Courses that showcase their history, engage the community, and take chances are the ones making the headlines in today's market
• Involving the community, local leadership, golf management experts, and your golf architect early on is key to project success
Until next time— keep writing your story!
Andy Staples, ASGCA
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