After Dark Events

Patrick_DillPatrick Dill, the 2011 North Florida PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities, is the PGA director of golf at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate in Champions Gate, Florida.

As a resort in Florida that sees a lot of play during the fall, winter and early spring, summer is not our busy season. It’s hot, humid and thunderstorms roll in, but that doesn’t stop golfers from wanting to stretch their muscles. So this summer we’ve used a built-in advantage at ChampionsGate to our benefit to host events: We have a nine-hole lighted course. The events on this course have included: a long drive contest using light up LED golf balls that land on a glow stick/rope yardage grid; a nine-hole team scramble on the lighted course with regular golf balls; a $1 million hole-in-one shot for nine closest to the hole winners (a 165-yard shot with a real golf ball); a nine-hole putting contest in a roped-off area with hazards, obstacles and boundaries; and finally, a night pitching contest with a 30-to-40 yard shot into an inflatable swimming pool with light-up LED balls. These events are great for our group and membership customers as they fit into the limited timeframe many groups are allocating for recreational events (taking two hours or less). These events are also tied together with a cocktail reception after their dinner function, conducted under cooler temperatures, and can even involve more non-golfers.

Patrick Dill on the business impact of running events after dark to spur profits:
We promote the events through the site visit process; our golf sales managers promote the events to groups/events they are calling and via e-blasts for member events. We’re not sure how many total events we’ll have this summer as it will depend on how many group event planners choose to add this to their programs, along with assorted member events. We make between $2,500 to $5,000 per event depending on size and scope. Our margin is around 65 percent depending on negotiated selling price, which is an advantage of the limited costs. The prizes vary from event to event, and we have an insurance policy in case someone wins the $1 million hole-in-one contest. To date in 2015, this approach has produced an additional $7,500 in golf sales and over $15,000 in food & beverage sales. The events draw a lot of attention from other guests/groups as the range grid and flying glow balls light up like a laser light show that we hope will lead to future sales. And by taking place in a fun environment, it increases participation from non-core golfers, especially when the events are connected with cocktail hours.

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Editor’s note: The above comments reflect the opinion and experiences of the submitting PGA Professional and are not endorsed by PGA Magazine or the PGA of America.