How adopting a startup mindset can create innovative member experiences that can help clubs stay relevant and thrive in the years to come.
Golf is a sport that has always been associated with exclusivity and luxury.
Offering members access to beautifully manicured courses, top-notch amenities, and unparalleled networking opportunities.
However, with changing demographics and an evolving consumer landscape, clubs are facing new challenges in terms of membership retention and attracting new members.
Enter the startup mindset.
As the world becomes increasingly entrepreneurial and innovation-driven, clubs can benefit from adopting a startup mindset to create innovative experiences that attract and retain members.
Let's explore how some of the leading private clubs in the country are applying this mindset to create innovative experiences for their members.
Beauty in the (Data) Breakdown
According to a recent report by the National Golf Foundation, there are over 24 million golfers in the United States alone, and they spend over $34 billion on the sport annually.
However, this data also shows that prior to the pandemic, the number of people playing golf had been steadily declining over the past decade.
Fast-forward to the present, and the data reveals just the opposite; the number of people who are interested in playing golf and the number of rounds played annually have dramatically increased.
For example, Monroe Golf Club located in Pittsford, NY which was recently ranked as one of the Top 20 Courses in New York and home to the prestigious Monroe Invitational, saw their number of member and guest rounds increase immensely from pre-pandemic figures.
Growing from roughly 23,450 total rounds played in 2019 grow to over 32,600 rounds played in 2020.
This presents an opportunity for clubs to tap into this interest and create experiences that cater to the changing preferences of modern consumers.
Breaking the Mold
As Forbes puts it, “Startups thrive on innovation, speed, and flexibility. They are always looking for new ways to solve problems and disrupt industries. Golf clubs can benefit from this kind of thinking by approaching their businesses with a startup mentality.”
One way that clubs are doing this is by offering a wider range of amenities and services beyond golf.
For example, the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, has a state-of-the-art fitness center and spa that offers members a range of wellness services.
The club also hosts events such as wine tastings and cooking classes, which provide members with unique opportunities to socialize and network.
Another way that clubs are applying a startup mindset is by leveraging technology to enhance the member experience.
The Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables, Florida, uses a GPS-based golf cart tracking system that provides members with real-time updates on their game and allows them to order food and beverages directly from the cart.
The system also provides the club with valuable data on member behavior and preferences, which can be used to tailor future experiences.
Adapt & Thrive
As Mark Leschly, managing partner of Iconiq Capital, a private investment firm that has invested in several golf-related startups, explains:
"The startup mentality is about identifying an opportunity, taking risks, and iterating quickly. Golf clubs need to be more entrepreneurial and willing to try new things to stay relevant and attract new members."
The startup mindset is also about being agile and adaptable. Clubs need to be willing to experiment and pivot quickly based on member feedback and changing market trends.
As Forbes contributor Mike Dojc notes: "The best clubs are nimble and open to change, and they never rest on their laurels. They take risks, learn from their failures, and strive to stay ahead of the curve."
Stepping Outside of the Comfort-Zone
The club industry is facing new challenges in terms of membership retention and attracting new members.
However, by adopting a startup mindset and creating innovative experiences that cater to the changing preferences of modern golfers, clubs can stay relevant and thrive in the years to come.
As Golf Digest put it, “The golf industry may be slow to change, but those who embrace a startup mindset will be the ones to thrive in the future.”
Clubs that embrace this philosophy are sure to swing for success.
As an industry leading performance improvement consultancy, Club Capital Group focuses on cost management and strategy to reduce operational costs, promote best practices and boost club profitability.
Club Capital is not a fee-based service. Your club will never receive an invoice for leveraging our services.
To learn more about how we can help drive positive change at your club, contact us today