There are multiple ways to get juniors to become members at clubs, but a question that has gone unanswered is how do we increase junior engagement once they are members?
Stoke Park, UK, recently applied a new scheme that has already had a significant effect at the club.
Stoke park is a well-developed club, with a 5 star health club and championship golf courses, the main course holding the Trilby Tour Final – a testament to the outstanding facilities. On top of this, the estates benefits from a 1,000 year history, entertaining famous figures from British history in the past millennium, undoubtedly boosted the clubs brand image on an international scene. Consequently, one area that has suffered due to the exclusivity created by its history is its junior section, this is the process Stoke Park is taking to become the best facility for junior golfers in the South of England…
The members of the golf committee, owners and management at Stoke Park felt for some time that there was not enough activity and competition within the junior section at the Club. Realising that the key to a healthy club in the future is a strong junior section, and with two thirds of junior members not playing golf on a regular basis, the committee and management saw the same view of growing the activity and competitive element in the junior section.
In the summer of 2012, stoke park held a series of trails for junior golfers to compete against one another to gain a golf scholarship at the club. Through the use of ATL and BTL marketing strategies, the club managed to see a turn-out of 48 junior golfers, ready to show Stuart Collier, Director of Golf why they deserved the scholarship through their skill and development potential.
The scholarship comprises of free coaching, range balls, access to the course, practice facilities and membership at the club – every golfers dream at such a prolific golf club.
Stuart Collier, Stoke Parks Director of Golf commented on the intended long term benefit of the scheme;
“The long term intended benefit is to create the strongest junior section, firstly in the county, then moving onto the south of England over the coming years.”
Analysis of scheme;
The majority of initiatives employed to develop the club, either its image, awareness or membership always requires funding. This is no different to this scholarship scheme to boost junior engagement and membership. Although stoke park has the added benefit of being one of the best clubs in Europe due to its 5 star multi-facilities and large budget compared to most clubs, the club found funding through an ingenuitive way. The management team wrote to all its golf members at the renewal and requested a £20 donation towards the scheme to help fund the program, although this was optional. In all, 27 members opted out of this scheme, with the owners of Stoke Park committed to match the donation made by the members, producing enough money to fund 12 scholarship places.
Success to date;
12 junior golfers have been awarded a scholarship at the club, all starting on the 1st of December. As a result to the wide awareness of the scheme in the junior golfing community and success at running the trials, a lot of the candidates that didn’t receive the scholarship have subsequently joined the club. Stuart Collier puts this down the juniors wanting to play with better golfers, giving themselves a better chance the next time scholarships are awarded. This has dramatically increased the junior engagement levels at the club since December 2012 and the amount of juniors attached to the club, helping to increase the end of year turnover and brand image of Stoke Park to junior golfers.
Stuart also stated when asked about the direction of the scholarship;
“It’s very early days to look at the direction of the project but we can see a positive effect on the members and the current junior section with the influx of keen young talent.”
“At present, I wouldn’t change anything. We have taken on 4 girls and 8 boys from an age range of 9 to 15 with varying handicaps and experience. I am sure as the season progresses we will look at how the program can be improved but at present, we are happy with the way things are moving.”
Advice for others wanting to mimic this scheme;
“The key advice I would give is to ensure this is something firstly that the members and the management want to see happen and can implement. Have a clear vision of what you are looking to achieve to deliver this and that you have the buy in from the senior staff at the Club. The selection process has taken quite some time and then to deliver a high level training program will require commitment from the Professional Staff.”
This furthers the point of clubs needing to have a healthy working relationship between all staff at clubs, from the PGA professionals to the Senior Management staff. If you are interested in implementing such a scheme at your club and in need of advice, please contact the CMAE.