Excludes – People who cannot afford the best in life. Limited membership may even exclude people who want to join now!
Targets – The area’s top professionals, old money, sometimes new money, society people
Examples – Trump International, Palm Beach, London Club, UK, Valderrama, Spain, Isleworth or Lake Nona FL
Taglines – “When you can afford the best in life!”
Tactics – High-end websites, blogs, social media, PR, direct mail, and referrals.
Commentary: In every city, the two golf clubs that have the best chance of success are the lowest price and the highest priced or aspirational club. They are at polar-opposite ends of the market appealing to very specific segments of the golfing consumer not stuck dangerously in the middle. Cost is of little concern to these people as long as the golf club is a primary membership and not secondary membership, should be relatively immune from economic ups and downs.
Opportunity: Opportunity in this segment could be capitalizing on a location, for example, buying a lower-end failing club that is well located near a city and revamping it entirely. Golf clubs can raise their status by the addition of a few key members who are prominent in the community. These could be well-known businessmen, politicians or celebrities. For example, while Isleworth and Lake Nona are both fine developments what made them famous was the fact that because of their proximity to Orlando airport, good weather and fine practice facilities they were both favored by a host of PGA Tour stars, the quality of the golf course was secondary (See celebrity members). Having no state tax didn’t hurt either.
Golf clubs can also raise their status by the addition of a major event this might be professional, Doral for example, or it might be an amateur. It might even be an event the club runs itself. In the UK amateur events run by clubs the like Berkshire Trophy, Hampshire Hog, Wem Bowl and Keddlestone Goose are examples of both regional and national events that help elevate a club’s profile. In Tampa, The Gasparilla event at Palma Ceia has an illustrious list of winners as does Pinehurst’s North-South event now in its’ second century!
Rankings in Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Golf Monthly or similar publications in your country’s top 100 lists can also help add to the status and therefore an aspirational value of the club. There are various people who are experts in the politics of this strategy, that can be retained to help increase your rankings (I am not one of them but I know who they are).
This is one of the few cases when I think PR is an effective tactic in the local market using the glossy magazine and local blogs to craft the right story for your club. You will also want your membership process to be part of the allure.
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