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November 2020 Update

Fall is upon us which means a record setting year for most golf course owners is coming to an end. Despite the challenges and benefits COVID-19 continues to present, I suspect the greatest impact will be felt over the next few years. The pandemic accelerated changes to golf’s operational model that will likely become permanent – for instance, we do not expect much regression in the percentage of golfers that book and pay on-line. Similarly, given the impact to the profit centers – F&B and merchandise – will golf operators focus on outdoor dining and services and repurpose interior spaces? A few observations are highlighted below as you finish 2020, take a breath, and start thinking about future operations.

What’s in a name?

You probably noticed the revised email template with the change from Billy Casper Golf to Indigo Golf Partners. We are rebranding to more clearly represent some of the tenets we hold dear – Indigo denotes our blue-sky approach embodied by all team members. Golf is self-explanatory – this is what we do each and every day, and Partners because of our active treatment of our partners’ courses and resources with the engagement and care they deserve.

The decision to rebrand was not easy, but we recognized that you’re moving backward if not moving forward. Anderson Consulting re-branded to Accenture, Google became Alphabet, and Yahoo was once Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web. So after 31 years it’s our turn to evolve with the times and signal a more precise and contemporary identity for what Indigo Golf Partners does and how we achieve the goals of our partners. Rest assured, golf course owners seeking expert management, Indigo Golf Partners will continue to innovate, create fun and enjoyable experiences for all, and achieve your desired objectives and financial returns.

The Three S’s

In the pandemic environment, there’s a greater focus on health and well-being, and golf is the perfect antidote to provide sunshine, space, and socialization. Additional COVID-19 outbreaks will lengthen stir crazy and sedentary lives, pushing people to get out and exercise, no matter the weather. To this end, the core golf season may very well be extended on either end. Even six-hole rounds lessen anxieties, boost mental acuity and provide much-needed Vitamin D. Talk about an ideal replacement for treadmills and ellipticals at gyms. Speaking of gyms, what type of membership programs (similar to gyms) are you packaging and incorporating to acquire and retain your golfers for 2021 and beyond?

Training Your Sales Team

Many golf communities have experienced a sharp increase in home sales as individuals relocate from more urban settings. We have experienced a trend within this phenomenon - well-managed golf course amenities are stimulating real estate interest and transactions; while others aren’t exploiting the relocation movement to the same degree. Successful growth strategies will always rely on grass roots efforts to ensure the onsite experience matches marketing and outreach campaigns. Which begs the question – what are you doing to ensure all team members understand they are in sales? FAQ’s, upsell training, and spiffs for keeping their antennae up are all easy steps to increase top line revenues.

Growing Your Team

As you evaluate your team for 2021, how are you identifying those in the “green-box” (top performers) and determining next growth steps? A mentorship program has proven fruitful for our teams, allowing for cross pollination of ideas and exposure to areas of expertise that a green-boxer might not be exposed to on a routine basis. Harvard Business Review recently published an article titled “Why Your Mentorship Program Isn’t Working.” The article highlighted the benefits of a successful mentorship program including greater organizational commitment and increased job satisfaction. Selfishly, as an owner, these are great benefits. However, the article also denotes that poor mentoring is worse than no mentoring and will frequently sabotage employee growth. Long story short, now is the time to meet with your green-boxers and identify their growth goals as well as your observations and growth goals for them. Then, identify other team members, club members, or local subject matter experts to serve as a Mentor – in all likelihood they will be flattered and if committed and open to the process, will learn as much or more as the mentee.

If anything resonated or you want to learn more about some of our best practices and initiatives, feel free to reach out directly as each situation is unique. Stay safe.

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About the Author
With 30 years’ experience in golf, Mike oversees Indigo Golf Partners growth plans and specific lease, acquisition, consulting and third-party management opportunities. He enjoys an invaluable talent of dissecting ways golf courses, country clubs and resorts can create significant new revenue and save expenses without compromise to quality. Previously, Mike managed the company’s vast southeast portfolio. A PGA member, he is a graduate of Mississippi State University, an avid cyclist and diehard college football fan.