Member-Guest Experience for Nine-Holers

Tommy-BrummettTommy Brummett is a PGA assistant professional at Greenbrier Golf and Country Club in Lexington, Ky.

At Greenbrier, we wanted to create a fun and exciting event for our nine-hole ladies to build morale and positive energy. Our efforts focused on a new event: a Big Break-style member-guest patterned after the Golf Channel reality show. We have four PGA Professionals on staff, so we set up four holes with a Big Break type of challenge, and the teams played a scramble on the other five holes. Points from the challenge holes were added to the scores from the scramble holes, with the goal being the fewest points, so the better the result on the challenges, the fewer points awarded. The main thing we wanted was all four challenges to have different professionals so the ladies would get to know the professional staff. The first challenge was a tic-tac-toe game. We set up a grid on the fairway about 50 yards out, and the ladies hit pitch shots at the targets. The next stop was the four-shot short-game challenge. We had teams hit two different bunker shots, a 50-yard pitch and a chip shot. They got to designate who on their team would hit each shot. On another hole, we had an uphill blind shot to the green, again with a series of rings around the hole; on these two challenges, teams tallied fewer points on shots closer to the pin. On the final challenge hole, the professional hit the tee shot for them, and the ladies could choose to play out with his shot, which all of them did. That was fun for them because they got to play out from a spot they wouldn’t normally be on their tee shot. We designed this member-guest so that each challenge took approximately 15-20 minutes, roughly the same amount of time as it would take to play the hole. That way, the pace of play was the same as a normal round of golf. We settled on this Big Break idea well in advance and recruited hard, and our efforts paid off; the ladies really thought this idea was cool and innovative, and it was our first member-guest for nine-holers that was more than 20 people. It’s important to note that the ladies who ran the tournament did a great job recruiting and really took ownership of the event, which helped us a lot. It also has created interest in seeing what we’ll come up with for the next member-guest.

The benefit to our club was not limited to this one event. The enthusiasm the Big Break member-guest created spread to our ladies nine-hole league in general. Our ladies nine-hole membership last year was nearly double what it was in the previous year. The league had 30 members in 2011, but last year, there were 52 members. We attribute the increase in league members directly to the buzz that the Big Break member-guest created. The enthusiasm has spread to the weekly nine-hole league events, so we’re having more creative formats and attracting more participation. To be able to mix it up with these kinds of events creates a little bit more buzz, and we see a lot more participation on a week-to-week basis. It’s not just more nine-hole members that are driving the participation. Women who played occasionally are now playing nearly every week, and they’re already talking about the next member-guest.