Realize Casual Member-Guests Can Work, Too

dean-kandleDean Kandle is the PGA Head Professional at St. Davids Golf Club in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

In addition to our larger and more elaborate member-guest events here at St. Davids, we’ve built upon the success of our weekly men’s league and created a member-guest that simply includes nine holes in the evening and a cookout following play. Six years ago a group of members began casually gathering on Wednesday evenings to play golf together. This eventually evolved into a weekly men’s nine-hole league called the “Guinness Gang.” Twice per season we host a guest night where a member may bring one guest. The event consists of nine holes with formats such as selective drive/alternate shot and better ball of partners. Following play, the players gather on our patio for a casual dinner and drinks. For our members, it serves as a way to bring a friend to one of the most popular men’s golf events at the club. It gives the players a chance to work a full day and still enjoy time at the club while playing in both a fun and competitive environment. In addition, the fact that it is only nine holes lowers the cost to the member and provides an inexpensive way to host a guest at St. Davids. The Guinness Gang Guest Night is a terrific way to showcase the club to guests and potential members. The players all enjoy great camaraderie on these nights and fun is had by all. The casual atmosphere creates a welcoming environment for the guests as opposed to some of the more formal member guest events held throughout the season.

The event is capped at 80 players to avoid pace of play issues, and it routinely sells out, often with a waiting list. Needless to say, it creates much more traffic in the restaurant and bar than a typical weeknight. Food & beverage revenue is 2.5 times higher compared to another night during the week. In itself, Guinness Gang has become one of the most popular events at the club. It serves as a fantastic way for new members to build friendships with their fellow members in a less competitive format. The guest night has become extremely popular, and we continue to see many of the same faces year in and year out as they enjoy returning for the event. It’s not unusual to hear a new member mention that they have heard about the guest night or have been a part of it and that it served as their introduction to St. Davids and potentially influenced them to join. In the end, it’s a simple event for the staff to run that creates a significant impact on the club and can be modeled elsewhere for those looking to eschew bigger member-guest outings.