Establishing Relationships at Tournaments

Cozby.Cary-TOCCary Cozby, the 2002 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities, two-time South Central PGA Section Golf Professional of the Year and the 2013 South Central PGA Section Bill Strausbaugh Award winner, is the PGA head professional at Wichita (Kansas) Country Club.

We begin our member-guest with festivities on a Wednesday night. While the dinner is one of the main attractions, we have much more going on, such as cigar rolling and whiskey tasting for all participants. They really enjoy this unique experience to do something different at the beginning of the event. This night of fun includes many things to do, but it is kept in a small area of the club, the grill, where we also serve our main entrée, which is usually steak. We also have host a concert for our participants, which is always well-received. We hold different contests as well, including a long drive contest. The long drive contest is a unique marketing tool in that the players hit our demo clubs after they receive a mini-fitting. Not only are they participating in a contest, but they are testing clubs that they may go on to purchase. This casual event is time that we can build relationships with each player and learn their names before a round even begins. For the remainder of the tournament, we have a connection with each one and everybody knows everybody. We create an atmosphere at the beginning of the event that establishes good will.

Cary Cozby on the business impact of establishing relationships at the beginning of tournaments:
Our member-guest is a very successful event. We always reach our field limit of 60 teams. We have a waiting list for the event, but with withdraws, we are able to get everyone in the event. We have even exceeded the field size limit at times to avoid excluding anyone from the event. The entry fee is $1,200 per team, all of which is used to cover expenses. With everything being centered around the golf shop on Wednesday night, we are able to boost our merchandise revenue as well. We average $4,000-$5,000 worth of merchandise sold that night alone. Our liquor distributor also handles our cigar business, so everything runs through them. The owner of that distributor is a member at our facility too. We sell plenty of cigars that evening, and typically part of the awards for the long drive and closest-to-the-hole is a bottle of the featured spirit. Guests for this event come from all over the country. Roughly 60-70 percent return each year to play in the event. During my 15 years at the club, 15-20 guests that played in this event have gone on to join the club, which is responsible for thousands of dollars of revenue. Some members seek the professional staff for lessons in preparation for the event. Usually, they just want a quick fix, but we help them and gain credibility, which can lead to lessons in the future.

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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.