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NGCOA’s Player Development Award Winners Use Creativity to Increase Participation, Revenues
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Jan. 4, 2007) – Along with a commitment to grow the game, winners of the National Golf Course Owners Association’s 2006 Player Development Awards have another characteristic in common: creativity.
At Cyprian Keyes GC in Boylston, Mass., for example, Friday nights have turned into a social occasion for golfers of all ages and abilities. For just $30, participants in the club’s Nine & Dine league are treated to nine holes of golf, golf car, prizes and dinner. “We’re averaging 40 to 45 people a week, and everyone is having a great time,” says David Frem, general manager.
Juniors learning the game at Carson Valley Golf Course at Gardnerville, Nev., keep score not by marking down a number, but by circling smiley faces or frowns on a scorecard designed by Head PGA Golf Professional Alan Hoover. “It’s a simple thing to move the emphasis away from scoring and put it on having fun,” says owner Tom Brooks.
In San Jose, Calif., earlier this year, students at a local elementary school hiked along a nature trail from their school to the Los Lagos Golf Course as members of the maintenance staff and golf shop personnel led a discussion about the area’s environment and wildlife habitat. Once at the course, the innovative field trip also included hotdogs and a putting contest.
The NGCOA’s annual Player Development Awards recognize courses that successfully introduce golfers of all ages to the game and thereby increase participation and revenues. Cyprian Keyes, Los Lagos/Rancho del Pueblo and Carson Valley were chosen by owners and operators who make up the NGCOA’s board of directors.
In the last two years, programs for juniors – including membership, tournaments, instruction and clinics – generated more than $100,000 in revenues at Cyprian Keyes, which won the Golf Digest Junior Development award in 2005. “These revenue totals have a relatively small impact on our overall revenue, but the participants in these events spend money on food, clothing, equipment and instruction, so we value them for more than their direct revenue impact,” Frem says.
In addition to its creativity, Carson Valley also took a long-term strategic approach to addressing player development. “All the national research concludes three things: golf takes too long, it’s too expensive and it takes away from family time,” says Brooks. “We thought we were in a good position to tackle all three challenges.”
Following the model developed by U.S. Kids Golf, Carson Valley constructed new tee boxes and installed family tees to shorten all 18 holes. Then it promoted the idea that experienced and beginning golfers could enjoy the game together without slowing the pace of play. Carson Valley also revamped its women’s programs to become more inviting and put more emphasis on junior clinics. Brooks estimates that 60 percent of all students are retained as regular golfers or clinic participants.
Sharing the award with Los Lagos is sister course Rancho del Pueblo. Los Lagos is a 5,396-yard par 68 that averages 68,000 rounds a year. Rancho del Pueblo is a 1,419-yard par 28 averaging 40,000 rounds since opening in 2000. In East San Jose, where residents are primarily Hispanic and Vietnamese, Rancho is adding to the game’s diversity. The combination of the two courses, adds General Manager Scot Hathaway, provides a “natural progression” as players advance to longer, more challenging courses.
About the NGCOA
The National Golf Course Owners Association is the leading authority on the business of golf course ownership and management. The Association represents the key decision makers with ultimate responsibility for golf courses throughout the world. Through advocacy, information resources, purchasing programs and networking opportunities, the NGCOA helps golf course owners and operators run more successful businesses.