Donate Memberships

trey-walewskiTrey Walewski, a six-time Central New York PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities, is the PGA general manager at Timber Banks Golf Club in Baldwinsville, New York, and owner of Meadowbrook Golf Club in Weedsport, New York.

At both my facilities – Timber Banks Golf Club where I am the PGA general manager and Meadowbrook Golf Club, which I own along with my wife Tina – we offer a free membership for a charity to sell at their silent auction or raffles. We started the program eight years ago as I was trying to come up with a way to secure big charity events. They first must have a minimum amount of players and purchase our complete tournament package, which includes golf rounds, golf car, food and golf shop credit. The membership given is entry level and the winner can subsequently pay to make it a full membership. The only restriction is that a current member cannot win. Importantly for us, because we can write it off as a donation, throwing in the membership eliminates the financial burden on the facility and serves as that little extra kicker we offer that other courses may not. And that could be a deciding factor on if we get the event or not.

The impact of this program is twofold:  first, that little extra kicker has been worth tens of thousands of dollars to both facilities and the goodwill it has generated is priceless. Charities know how much country club memberships mean to some people – especially ardent golfers – so it’s a huge carrot to put out there. At auction, the free membership usually goes for around $500 to $700 for Meadowbrook Golf Club (regular price is $1300) and around $1000-$1500 for Timber Banks (regular price $3600). Secondly, we gain a new member who, while free for the season, is still giving us revenue via his guests and food & beverage. In the past eight years, between the two clubs, we have donated 22 memberships to various charities, with 16 of the winners currently being full dues paying members. Our event re-book is over 90 percent over the past eight years and the keeping of those 16 members speaks to the experience we hope to show them. That’s a crucial element here: because current members can’t win, we’re constantly inviting in potential new clientele – a constraint stream of potential new users and members. In the end it’s been a boost for the charities while giving us a new revenue stream in the process.

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