Previewing Tournaments and Outings with a “Dry Run”

Hal-BrownHal Brown, the 2010 Dixie PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities, is the PGA head professional at Ballantrae Golf Club, Pelham, Ala.

Six years ago, we began inviting the tournament and outing coordinators who have events at our facility in the upcoming year, anyone who has managed one in the past, and any coordinators who are currently considering booking our facility for their outing for a fun day of complimentary lunch, golf and instruction along with a guest in the early spring. They arrive mid-morning, have an instructional clinic geared around the short game, have lunch, play in a modified shotgun event, and then have an awards ceremony, mimicking how their tournament or outing is most likely going to function. It’s served our facility well thus far, as these prospective or new tournament and outings coordinators were able to see exactly what their day will consist of and were able to meet the staff who will be helping to make the day go as smooth as possible. We strive for the best customer service possible and this is a way to help demonstrate that goal so they can relax and enjoy their day. We also see it as a nice gesture to past coordinators who have chosen to bring their business back to us on a recurring basis as we give them a complimentary day of golf and enjoyment with their chosen guest. Around 30 people usually participate, and we see it as a logical thing to do to both recruit business to our facility and reward those who have previously brought business to us.

As a facility that sometimes gets outings from people who may not have been able to see our facility before booking or putting us on their finalist list, this day can be crucial to sealing the deal. Over the course of the six years we have offered this program, we’ve seen tangible evidence of exactly that. On average, two to three potentials per year become definites because of these special days, though the exact number varies from year to year. On the financial side of things, we purposely schedule this on a slower day so we don’t hinder our business as much as if we scheduled it on a weekend. This program has definitely helped with customer retention, our instructors have picked up students, our dining room has picked up additional business, all leading to the best year we’ve ever had last year in terms of rounds played. Not all of those things are solely and directly attributable to doing a special day for event managers, of course, but it’s clear that previewing and reviewing the experience for outing coordinators has certainly helped the end product be that much more positive.