Mike Bradshaw, the 2010 Rhode Island Chapter Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities and the chapter’s 2013 Professional of the Year, is the PGA head professional at Kirkbrae Country Club in Lincoln, R.I.
At Kirkbrae, we hold between 15-18 outside outings for corporate groups and charities every year. Over the years, we have noticed that the main contacts for these groups are busy organizing volunteers and collecting donations during the event, which means they don’t get to enjoy the same guest experience as the rest of the participants. The overwhelming majority of them don’t play golf on the day of the event, and if they do, they spend their day constantly changing hats from event planner to golfer and back. I decided to invite the main contact of each event to a one-day member-guest tournament, as my guest, to allow them to have a day on the course in a stress-free environment. They get to see an event from the other side of things, strictly as a guest. This serves many purposes, but the most important is strengthening the relationship I have with the event contact. It’s important to let them experience your entire operation, which makes them feel much more comfortable when the day arrives for their big event. It’s a simple idea but it has certainly paid dividends for us.
All in all, our outside golf outings account for 30-35 percent of our golf revenue for the season, so any steps we can take to maintain and/or increase them is worthwhile. This generally results in the event selecting our golf shop for their tee gifts and prizes, as well as additional food & beverage revenue for the club when they see the lunch and dinner tied to a member-guest, which is more substantial than that at a normal outside golf outing. Maintaining a strong relationship with the event contacts is something that takes minimal financial commitment from the club and goes a long way toward keeping our clients for years to come.