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Feb OtR: Retention is Job 1 in 2023-Abstract

Volume 22 Issue 02

Where Do We Grow From Here?

As promised last month, we continue our summary of our 20th annual State of the Industry discussion which Stuart and I hosted during the Golf Business Conference/PGA Merchandise Show back in now-distant January.  I’ve borrowed (stolen?) Stuart’s primary observation during his qualitative assessment portion of the presentation which was that COVID brought us a lot of new golfers and more diversity (primarily gender &  generations vs. race; we’re still failing the DEI litmus test/trifecta) but now our challenge is maintaining their interest and involvement in our sport as life gets back to normal.

In spite of the combined time, energy and money devoted to player development over the past 20 years, the elephant in the room has persistently been not that we can’t attract golfers, it’s that we’ve never had much success in keeping them.  In this issue I’ll channel Stuart (we’re both old white guys with gray hair) in recapping what we can and should be doing about retention in 2023 to help ourselves and stop sabotaging whatever success we’re having in player development:T

  • Can we make a more concerted effort to proactively “fix” the primary causes of golfers abandoning the sport?

  • The only way to attack golfer defection is to determine root causes (consumer survey) and remedial actions (PGA pros are positioned to be part of the solution)

  • Facility operators are (could be?) uniquely positioned to help their own cause by attacking customer defections, if they can identify and connect with those who have strayed

Stuart has studied the annual “churn” figures and his fact-based assertion is that we pretty steadily attract 2-3M new players to the game annually.  Where our fortunes rise (during COVID) and fall (the 18 years since ’00 pre-COVID) is how many players we lose annually out the “back door” who abandon the game (defined as not playing a single round in the current year after having played 1+ rounds the previous year; the bar is not high).  If we could figure out a way to close the back door, even halfway, in one or more successive years, the steady inbound participant flow would propel us to higher numbers of golfers and, not assuredly but most likely, more rounds (and revenue).  Great theory, but how do we actually do that as an industry?  Unlike player development, there’s no magic, universal player retention bullet; it will be the cumulative efforts of individual facility owner/operators to close their back door which will result in moving the national needle.  I’ve always said, “the last entity to see a departing golfer is the last facility he/she played at.”  Let’s see what Stuart and my solution to the challenge looks like.

For our subscribers, read on to get the supporting facts and insights.  For everyone else, you can get the rest of the story one of three ways:

  1. Subscribe to the Pellucid Publications Membership for $495/yr (most comprehensive coverage & detail) - Annual subscribers get access to the following:
    • Outside the Ropes monthly digital newsletter
    • Annual State of the Industry report portfolio (PowerPoint presentation, PDF commentary report, access to Jim/Stuart video of presentation)
    • Geographic Weather Impact Tracking (US, 45 regions, 61 markets) or Cognilogic for Golf Playable Hours/Capacity Rounds for individual facilities
    • National Consumer Franchise Health Scorecard (expanded data and tables underlying this issue's summary figures)
  2. Subscribe to OtR, 12 monthly issues for $250/yr (or you can opt for monthly payments of $25, annual term) with a money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied at any time during your subscription. Subscribers also get access to the historical archive of past issues (last two years) via the members-only section of the Pellucid website
  3. Subscribe to Golf Market Research Center (for operators wanting a combination of insights and action tools) – Here’s what’s included in the current “promo package” for either $500 annual or $450 for NGCOA members (or $45/mo or $41/mo respectively):
    • Full suite of Performance Tracking reports (Market profile, comparative trends report and 7 KPI scorecard for any month and Year-to-Date for data provided by facility
    • Facility-level Cognilogic historical weather impact portal/reports access, Golf Playable Hours & Capacity Rounds by day in current month, by months in current year and by day-of-week in current year with comparisons to Year Ago and the 10-Yr Norm
    • Facility-level Foresight 60-day Capacity Rounds forecast, select forecast weather elements (hi/lo temp, daily precip etc.), variance to last year and long-term Normal. Not infallible but better than guessing or trying to collect all that yourself and organize it manually…
    • Outside the Ropes monthly e-newsletter (consider this a sample of topics and treatments)
    • State of the Industry Presentation, PowerPoint presentation slides of quantitative results and qualitative trends-to-watch as well access to 90-minute PGA Show presentation video

To learn more about GMRC:

  • Click here for 2-page program overview or
  • Click here for 15-minute video demo (you do have to register to see video; don’t worry, you’re not signing up for anything)
  • Click here to subscribe for a single facility
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. me for multiple facilities or special situations


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