Instituting Fun Programs

Lynne-HunterLynne Hunter, the LPGA Northeast Section’s 2010 Professional of the Year and 2012 Junior Golf Leadership award winner, is the PGA head professional at Kenwood Golf and Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

After the success of our Friday night mixed golf twilight program, a play and dine event, we were looking to expand our Friday night event offerings to fill gaps that existed in the schedule. So last year we came up with our Play and Learn program. For this new event, members of our mixed golf group (adult men and women, both individuals and couples), come to the course for a two-hour event that starts with a 30-minute clinic on whatever the given skill is for that day. It is then followed by 90 minutes on the course via a shotgun start. The time on the course features a contest for the groups involving the skill of the day, with a winner awarded in each group of players. For example, if it is a putting day, the contest would be the longest one-putt made within the group. The winners all get a prize after the round is completed. My assistant and I also drive out on to the course to help the players and reinforce the skill learned in the clinic. We averaged 24 participants for each Play and Learn, which is a great size for two instructors to be able to get time with all the groups on the course. At the conclusion of the two hours, regardless of the number of holes completed by the groups, we meet in the clubhouse for drinks, the first of which is paid for by the club. Looking back on the three Play and Learn nights we held last year, everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, with great camaraderie all around. That was epitomized in the fact that most stayed for dinner as well, which served as a perfect ending to a perfect social event.

Lynne Hunter on the business impact of instituting fun programs to increase participation:
From a business standpoint, this had numerous tangible and intangible benefits. From the tangible side, it was a two-fold revenue producer. First, the players stayed for dinner, which pumps additional income into the club. The second part came from the program itself. The entry fee was $15 per person, which covers the clinic, golf, the prizes, and the first drink. On top of that, the program was so successful that 25 percent of the participants started taking private lessons afterwards, creating added opportunities for our professionals. But the biggest benefit actually proved to be the intangible one: The realization that this is a perfect format, as players are free to pick up if the hole isn’t going well yet still participate in the contest, whether it’s a closest-to-the-hole chipping contest or the aforementioned longest one-putt made game. That ensures that everyone, even new players, have fun, and will keep them coming back again for more. That has also led to increased interest in the event, as word of mouth about how much fun everyone had quickly spread around the club.