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Buyers Guide Accelerate

Midlands executive director focuses on long-term results

When Joe Goldys took over as executive director of the Midlands Golf Course Owners Association (Midlands GCOA) in July of last year, there were 10 paying members.  Today, there are 24.

While many people would be satisfied with those results, particularly in this economic climate, Joe is frustrated precisely because of that climate. 

“It’s an extremely tough market here in the Midlands of South Carolina with double-digit unemployment and far too many courses for the demand,” he says.  “There is an uneasy feeling about how long-term these new members are.  Right now, they’re busy trying to out-discount each other.  My most important job is to get owners talking to each other to understand that cutthroat discounting isn’t good for anyone, and to realize that there are tremendous cost-saving opportunities if they would instead concentrate on group purchasing or equipment sharing programs.”  

If anyone can accomplish this, Joe would be the first choice because of his contacts and persuasive personality.  “It’s critical to get one-on-one with owners, to visit them as often as possible without being an annoyance,” he says.  “Today especially, you build confidence by being there, by getting face time so that owners know that you’re more than just an e-mail address.”

 Joe also has a history of success in making things work in the golf industry.  Prior to becoming executive director, he was marketing director – Southeast for the American Golf Corporation; the founder and owner of Guaranteed Golf, a discount golf card, which he later sold; and general manager and director of marketing of the Heritage Golf Club in Atlanta.  After seven years at Heritage, he moved to South Carolina and resurrected Guaranteed Golf. 

That’s when the Midlands GCOA persuaded him to become executive director, and to roll over the courses that participated in his company into the Midlands Golf Passport Program. 

Now he is focusing on selling the Passport by expanding the distribution network for its flyers, featuring 42 courses, in the Columbia, Aiken, Greenwood, and Lancaster areas. 

There also is a major effort by the Midlands GCOA to offer a personalized service matching golfers with a course that, according to Joe, “will meet or exceed their expectations.”  The vast majority of the association’s members are located in Columbia, the state’s largest city and capital, so he is working with the metro area’s major hotels to get them to provide their guests with the full-color brochure describing the program. 

“Thirteen of Columbia’s largest properties currently participate, plus we now have an opportunity to distribute the information at the state’s nine visitor centers,” he says.  “The really exciting aspect of this program is that there are no discounts involved.  For each tee time at the rack rate, the association gets 10 percent.” 

Despite some frustration, much of which is due to the economy and out of his control, Joe says that continuing to lay the foundation with solid association marketing programs will pay big dividends when the economy finally does rebound.  “Making sure owners know the Midlands GCOA supports them in the tough times is key to long-term strength and growth,” he says. 

Most memorable golf experience:  After arriving at his club, Brandermill Country Club in Midlothian, Virginia, Joe was informed by the starter that there was a threesome in the dining room looking for a fourth and would he like to join them.  He agreed and went to introduce himself.  At the table were Curtis Strange, fresh off his second US Open win; Lanny Wadkins (21 PGA Tour wins); and Lanny’s brother, Bobby Wadkins (six runner-up PGA Tour finishes).  Joe told them he was a 10-handicapper, and Strange said, “I’ll take you.”  Needless to say, Joe was a bit nervous on the first tee, but was still able to hit a 3-wood down the middle.  “I parred the hole for a net birdie and then went on to shoot a 77 with my ball,” he said.  “Curtis and I took all the money.”    

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