Special Events

mike-ahrnsbrakMike Ahrnsbrak, a past Middle Atlantic PGA Section Golf Professional of the Year and Merchandiser of the Year for Resort Facilities, is the PGA general manager at Blue Ridge Shadows Resort and Golf Club in Front Royal, Virginia.

We have had a lot of success creating and developing activities for non-golfers at the club during an outing so those who don’t play golf can still be a part of the event. This started out as a way to increase food & beverage sales, and has morphed into another sales opportunity and an avenue for corporate, civic or charity organizers to appeal to a broader clientele. We have an 18-hole golf course with a clubhouse adjacent to a 124-room hotel with a full-service restaurant and multi-use banquet rooms. The golf course offers many health and wellness opportunities for events that may not be available at other hotels, and our sales team uses the golf course option to create a competitive advantage when bidding for corporate business. For example, we have corporate partners who have multi-day conferences with an optional golf outing. For an additional fee of $250 per hour, we offer a one-hour SNAG Golf clinic, set up a putting course on the practice green, offer bocce and croquet on our practice tee, as well as cornhole and ladder ball in an area around the clubhouse. To augment our food & beverage options, we purchased a smoker and feature a casual menu featuring our house-smoked meats, poultry and seafood. We set up games and have the coordinators invite non-golfers to attend as the golfers are playing in the shotgun start. The Middle Atlantic PGA Section has inflatables, such as GolfZilla, that PGA Professionals may borrow for special events like these. Both adults and youth enjoy spending time with GolfZilla, and we have used these several times to increase the buzz and as a visual prompt that something different is happening at the club.

Mike Ahrnsbrak on the business impact of creating a special event:
The end result is higher food & beverage sales, an opportunity to introduce the game to non-golfers and, most importantly, a very happy client. The success we’ve had with the corporate business evolved into a new and unique opportunity for the corporate, civic and charitable golf outings we host. Many outings rely on auctions to generate additional revenue for their cause. Instead of just conducting another golf outing, we help them create an event, which increases revenue opportunities for the golf course, our PGA instructors and the event coordinators. Our food & beverage sales for these events have increased nearly 50 percent, and as one coordinator told me: “The more people, the merrier the time, the more revenue we can generate for our cause.” Sometimes you have to think outside the clubhouse and utilize all your space available as an additional revenue opportunity.

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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.