Boosting members via GolfMark at Tenterden Golf Club12th July, 2012 by Jenny Yu
In these challenging times, new memberships are akin to the Holy Grail. The clubs that are getting it right are almost always those that have, among several other factors like improved catering, refurbished clubhouses and proactive marketing, learned to bring their PGA professional into the management and marketing issues of the club, and taken advantage of their unique training, expertise and capabilities.
This is especially true when it comes to attracting complete beginners into the game, let alone golfers of whatever ability, because of a PGA professional’s coaching and tuition expertise.
Previously in Golf Club Management we looked at the activities and achievements of one PGA professional who had seen the opportunity to create an academy type of membership at his golf club. Now we’re going to look at what can happen when a club takes advantage of its PGA professional and his colleagues at the County Golf Partnership (CGP), where the value of the GolfMark accreditation lies for a golf club, and other schemes like ‘Get Into Golf’ that any club can get involved with to meet its own income-generating requirements.
Tenterden Golf Club in Kent has gone much further than most in creating facilities for complete beginners while also improving its golf course’s architecture and presentation, yet it is only pointing the way that many other clubs should heed and start to follow.
In his first two years as head professional at Tenterden, with a bit of help from his friends at the Kent CGP, PGA professional Richard Silman has been helping his club attract lots of new adult and junior players into the game.
These efforts have recently been recognised by both England Golf and the Kent Golf Union as Tenterden has just been awarded the exclusive GolfMark accreditation, which is creating new opportunities to promote golf in local schools and the community.
Gary Bason, who is both a PGA professional as well as a key member of the Kent CGP, said: “At Tenterden, Richard has made a big effort to achieve GolfMark and introduce golfers of all ages to the game. From a golf development perspective he is an ideal example of a forward thinking and pro-active professional.”
Richard Silman is truly delighted at what the club has been able to achieve: “We have obviously worked hard to bring the club up to GolfMark standard and we are really excited about the future,” he said.
“We have worked really hard on making improvements to the course and the facilities. With this in mind we have recently finished the development of our academy par three course and our academy main course. These two courses form the stepping stones necessary to move juniors and beginners through to full golf course standard.
“We have also made significant changes to the main course, repositioning bunkers and building new tees. We are now an accredited ‘adult participation centre’, and Tenterden is also playing its part in the national ‘Get Into Golf’ campaign.
“At our academy we teach lots of beginner and junior groups as well as providing expert individual tuition. Our academy is equipped with the latest training aids, and now that we have access to both the par three course and academy course we are able to offer the perfect learning process to the aspiring golfer. To celebrate all of this, in May we held an open day from 10am to 5pm. Everyone was welcome on the day and there were refreshments, competitions and complimentary club hire.”
Richard is helping the club achieve impressive additional income generation as a direct result of all this work: “Through the academy we introduced 17 new adult members from complete beginners by May from the start of the year,” he said.
“The open day led to our signing up a further seven new members, and we recruited another four in the following two weeks.
“By introducing the beginners’ groups we’ve brought over 50 new players into the game and they continue to have lessons and learn. We have also produced nine ‘access members’ to our club, a points-based system of earning membership into Tenterden Golf Club.
“We have introduced over 20 new junior members from encouraging complete beginners, and well over 100 juniors to the game of golf. A large percentage of those now have lessons with us, and will become members when they reach 18 and reach a good enough standard.
“Our stepping stones route to membership programme – which is run through the academy – is producing new golfers and potential new members for our club all the time. The newly opened par three course and academy course allow this system to work even more effectively.
“With the facilities we now have in place, that is the par three course and academy course, and with our GolfMark accreditation, we hope to introduce even more players to the game, both adult and junior. We aim to be recognised as a genuinely welcoming club for all, and one which is working hard to bring golf to the attention of the local community and beyond.”
There is much to be learned from the various steps that Tenterden has taken, but any golf club that wants to attract more members, whether beginners and academy members, or more proficient golfers, the first step is to talk to your PGA professional and see just how much he or she can bring to your club’s development of a membership building strategy.