I’m 27 years old, and I love everything about the sport of golf. Recently, I’ve become more and more interested in joining a private golf club, especially while I’m in most clubs' Junior Member age bracket. I’ve requested information from five clubs in the Twin Cities area and will continue to do so until I feel like I’ve found a place that I love.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult for me to fall in love with any clubs because it's hard to grasp what it looks like to be a member using the information available online. And I’m really not ready to spend a bunch of time touring clubs I don’t feel strongly about.
That’s a big issue.
Golf clubs claim they all want to “get younger,” yet it doesn't seem like clubs are rushing to adapt to what millennial golfers and families want to see.
So, to help clarify what we're looking for, here's what I really wish clubs would show me and other millennials if they want to attract younger members.
1. Show me what membership means
For me, it’s important that I know and understand all of the options available for me and my family. If I’m interested in membership, what does that look like for my girlfriend? Or our future family?
What are the initiation fees and monthly dues? And, what are my options for paying them?
I really wish I had access to all this information without having to speak with anyone or schedule a tour. If I can’t find membership options and pricing information on your website, I can guarantee I’m going to be frustrated along with everyone else in my generation.
We want less friction during the buying process. In other words, don’t make me adapt to your sales process. Guide me through the process, but allow me to go at my own pace and take detours if I choose to.
Over everything else, I want transparency and authenticity. Always be upfront with all details of membership including annual fees, monthly dues and minimums, and any additional fees I will be required to pay so I can make an informed decision.
2. Show me what playing golf looks like
There are a lot of benefits to joining a private club, but for most, the golf is of the utmost importance. And this goes well beyond the actual course.
How do I request tee times? Can I get a tee time or do you have too many members? Do I have restrictions when it comes to days of the week or time of the day? Who will I be playing with? Are leagues available to join? If so, how do I join? Are there couples leagues? Are there leagues for my future kids?
And most of all, will I fit in?
Most of these questions can be answered throughout the sales process. However, if you want to grab the attention of more people like me, I encourage you to produce videos and write blog posts sharing the tee sheet process for members. And, with that, share stories of members playing together and becoming friends. Or members holding their trophy after winning a league.
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In other words, remove the fear and uncertainty that I have about the golf aspect of joining a club. I want to know that I can easily request tee times and enjoy a round of golf with people who will respect me and my game.
3. Show me what events look like
What type of social events does the club host? I’m sure there are a fair amount of weddings, banquets, etc. But what about events for the members? If I join, will my girlfriend be able to join a club within the club? Something like “Wine Wednesday” or “Book Club?”
If I’m getting her to buy in, I have to show her that the club is so much more than golf. She’s not a golfer… yet. Help me show her the value and benefits because getting her buy-in is part of my decision-making process.
Also, what events are hosted for young children? Are there fun activities for them to be involved in on weeknights and weekends?
Do members do anything outside of the club for the community, like charity events?
Social media is a good way to showcase events the club has to offer. Both member and non-member events help tell the story of the club. Other young people that are looking at membership (or looking with their significant other) might like to see that you host beautiful weddings, social events, or have fun lunches for members once a month, for example.
Don’t be afraid to share those stories. Millennials are actively seeking them out!
4. Show me what childcare looks like
This is an important amenity for young members and their families. Can my future wife and I have a nice night out at the club without worrying about finding a babysitter? Or, can I get nine holes in on a Saturday morning when she’s out of town on a girl’s weekend?
If you offer childcare, what does it look like? What are the details and how does it work? Can I feel safe leaving a young child in the care of the employees you have hired for childcare roles?
This would be a huge selling point for a young family or a couple considering having a family down the road. If your club offers this service, scream it from the rooftops. Put it on your site, share it on social media, and send emails about it. Hell, you can even pay for online advertising if you have a message this enticing.
5. Show me what the food looks like
The quality of food at your club is a major deal. I want to know what the menu looks like. Don’t be afraid to show me!
I’ve worked with many clubs and they’re all very proud of their chef, their menus, and their food. But most club sites don’t share this pride with their web visitors. And why not? We want to see!
Food isn't just food. Are you serving beef stew or beef tartare or both? Do you serve local favorites? Do you provide gluten-free or vegan options? How often does your menu change? What are your member's favorite meals?
If I'm going to join a club with a food and beverage minimum I want to know that it's somewhere I can envision spending time and money. (And I'm not likely to take off time from work to come in for lunch, or even a meeting, if I don't see good reason to do so).
6. Show me the culture
I want to know what it would look like if I go to the club on a Sunday afternoon in the fall. Will football be on TV? I understand it’s a golf club, but what if I want to watch the Vikings game? Is there a location in the club where I can go to watch the game with other fans?
And if I’m trying to watch Tiger on Sunday, is there a fun area to relax and watch him surrounded by other enthusiasts? Does the room feel comfortable and have modern furniture and technology? Or does it feel stuffy and uncomfortable?
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What if I want to go on a Tuesday night to get away from my house and get some work done. Can I find a quiet, Wi-Fi friendly area to plug in and get through some emails? Or, what if I want to swing by after a long day of work to de-stress? Is there a happy hour?
If my girlfriend and I go out on a Friday night, will there be other couples like us there enjoying a meal and cocktails? We want to make sure we’re not going to stick out like a sore thumb and be forced to entertain ourselves if we visit the club on a whim.
Once again, you’d be wise to show these things to millennials like me. Share your member's stories, add pages to your website, and share photos on social media. Embrace and showcase your culture!
7. Show me other amenities the club offers
What other amenities do you offer? If your club offers any of the features below, get them in your messaging and on your website.
- Exercise equipment
- Meeting rooms
- Practice facility
- Driving range
- Putting green
- And everything else you offer! (don’t assume we know — or that we'll dig to find out)
8. Show me what the experience will look like
If you want my business and the business of other millennials like me, strive to build an online experience that highlights everything it means to be a member of the club. Shape your marketing tactics around what’s actually happening at your club every day.
Also, if you’re a 501c7 club, you’re absolutely allowed to share what the experience looks like without traditionally “marketing” your club. That’s what millennials want, anyway! We don’t need to be marketed to or sold —just show us what makes your club unique and let us decide if that's the right thing for us.
Remember, you’re not going to sell us with your 10-year, no interest financing options or your scenic patio or any of your features. If you do a good job being transparent and intentional surrounding all the things I said above, you’re going to sell us on the experience. Do you know why? Because we don’t want to miss out on the lifestyle your members experience every day. That’s why we’ll join and that’s why we will refer our family and friends.