Many of my fellow hoteliers have been discussing the state of the golf industry today and how they can market to golfers. I feel that I can give sound advice as I am now well versed in that area. This past summer, Enchantment Group took Seven Canyons golf course out of bankruptcy. Now a private course, Seven Canyons only offers access to course members and Enchantment Resort guests. While we are still in the early stages of revitalizing Seven Canyons, I’ve already spotted a couple of industry trends.
First, golf is not the primary reason members are joining our club. They SHOULD be joining for the mere fact that Seven Canyons is a Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course and offers one of the most dramatic natural settings on earth, but that’s not the main driving factor. Members are joining to belong to a “club.” They’re interested in the social aspects of the club and being with other members just as much as, if not more than, playing golf. The members want to be around people with similar lifestyles and experiences.
As far as resort play, corporate golf groups are still few and far between. The AIG effect still lingers for the golf world as golf still has the stigma of excess. There is some light at the end of the tunnel, as some groups are giving their guests a resort credit that can be used for golf, which is the first step in bringing golf back into the corporate world. A bright spot is the leisure golfer and the social golf groups. These golfers love to travel and want to play experiential courses such as Seven Canyons.
The demographics are changing too. One cannot help but notice that the average golf club member and golfer is getting older. So in my opinion, the top priority for the golf industry should be focusing on getting younger players into the game of golf to maintain numbers. We will be working on junior golf programs and creating incentives for younger members to join the clubs and clinic. We want to do our part to increase the number of players in the game, and I encourage my fellow hoteliers to do the same.